I really loved this research article from my previous class reading, Opportunity for all? Technology and learning in lower-income families. There was so many angles that came to mind when I first read this and started a “draft” post nearly two weeks ago. I will share my hodgepodge thoughts, mainly from personal experience relating to this article.
First, I didn’t see any of the key findings, which are of major concern, as something new to me because I can relate and also see it within my students through my work. However, I really appreciate this study “Because lower-income parents are not usually the focus of studies on technology and learning…The purpose of the survey is to document, at a national level.” (p.4). This is a very important issue as it demonstrates the inequity in children’s learning.
Second, I didn’t realize how much of a reliance people use the Internet for because they have access to it. I forget that awesome convenience in turning to the computer to “look up” information, and what a privilege it is do so within hands reach. Just the other day, I changed my own car battery via looking it up online.
Third, the interview stories, facts, and tables in this article hit home for me as I become cognizant of how fortunately tech savvy I am. You see, I have fell under this lower-income status during my high school and undergrad years. In one sense, I was fortunate that my dad decided to buy a computer, during my junior year in high school, and pay for dial-up, internet connection. He bought the cheapest one available. The allotted monthly hours were split weekly and among my sisters and me. We drew a weekly chart to log our hours, so that we wouldn’t go over.
My older sister was really savvy with her minutes, and I learned to maximize mine like she did. You log on and open all the applications and articles that you researched or wanted to read onto new windows, then log off the Internet connection to read the opened tabs. Sometimes, we would even copy and paste onto word document to read for later. It probably helped that we were always fighting to use the computer for no good reason (at least, not academically); this way, we weren’t on it too long and using all our minutes up for the week!
I knew that having a computer was a privilege back in the 90’s, since majority of my classmates and friends didn’t have one. To give you some perspective, there was only one computer with Internet at my high school library (no joke). Although I had Internet at home, it was slow as molasses and sometimes a spotty experience. As I continue to reflect how tech savvy I have become over the years, I realize that all my skilled formatting techniques came from learning it during private school years (when my family had money).
I cheekily titled this blog as such because I’ve made it through undergrad years without owning my own Internet at home. I had to rely on school library and local library for Internet access. At that time, I also discovered that the construction company that was building new apartments where I was living had open Internet access. I would find the hotspot within my apartment to connect to it; sure, I got disconnected a few times or it wouldn’t work but for the most part, I got lucky…very lucky. I also waited until my junior year in college where I finally invested in buying my own laptop. It is the only one that I’ve ever own and still use today. I am near the end of my graduate career and still do not personally own Internet connection at the place that I bought. This time, I am not so lucky, as most wireless connections are password protected these days.
To tie this post back to the reading: the issues brought to attention are uniquely fascinating and problematic towards society as a whole. The fast pace advancement in technology and necessity for Internet use enhances the undeniable digital divide that can’t be ignored. Last quarter, my professor asked if access to the Internet was a basic need. In reading this article, I can confidently argue yes; but I remember that I responded quite oppositely initially.
Was it just me or did you have similar experiences? How or in what ways are you tech savvy?