Nampa South Middle School
229 W. Greenhurst Rd.
Nampa, ID 83686
Dear Parents of South Middle School Students:
My name is Scott Hogan, and I am a teacher here at South Middle School. I am writing to you today to make you aware of a term that I just recently learned, which is connected to a situation that most of us probably knew existed. The problem is that my students, your children, probably have greater access to the internet here at school than they do at home. The term associated with this problem is “digital inequality.” According to a 2006 report, if you are part of an ethnic minority, didn’t get a college degree, or make less than $20,000 a year, statistics show that your child will probably not have nearly as much internet access at home as they do at school. (Computer Use, 2006) The study shows that schools have done an admirable job of providing up to 83% of students nationwide access to computers and the internet at school. (Carvin, 2006) For students whose parents are some of the above mentioned groups, these same reports show that there will be 20-40% less internet access available at home. Unfortunately, this may have some effect on your student’s ability to do homework and projects–both now and in the future. As long ago as 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau found that 57% of students ages 7 to 17 used the internet at home to help them complete assignments. (Computer Use, 2006) One can be assured that as availability of computers has gone up in the last 7 years, so has their use by students in homes.
I am not writing to you to add to the pressures you already face as a parent. From what I see in the daily interactions with my students, you as parents are doing what you can to give kids their best chance to succeed in both school and life. I know you want the best for them. My purpose today is simply to make you aware of statistics showing that interaction with computers at home, and access to appropriate internet sites, will become increasingly important for your child’s educational success as South Middle School works to include the newest technologies into our teaching methods. As a teacher I pledge to you that I will always give students time in our computer labs when my assignment calls for internet resources. I will not give homework that requires you to have internet access in your home. However, there will be many assignments throughout the year that would benefit from such access. Also, there are countless sites that offer troves of information that would make their learning experience in my classroom more valuable. If there is anything I can do to put you in touch with resources that will help your student in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Carvin, Andy. (2006). New Govt. Report Exposes the School-Home Digital Divide. Learning.now, Sept. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/teachers/learning.now/2006/09/new_report_exposes_the_schoolh.html
Computer and Internet Use by Students in 2003. (2006, September 5). Retrieved September 21, 2008, from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2006065.
My EdTech 501 Digital Divide Letter to Parents is one of the artifacts I’ve chosen to show my mastery of the idea that one must know about the learner to help that person succeed. As was typical of my experiences at BSU, I had never even heard of the term digital divide before I enrolled. I hadn’t even given much thought to students’ at home computer use since I didn’t have them use school computers very heavily either. Research for my letter showed that while students at school had very good access to computers and the internet (83% of children), depending on their economic and ethnic backgrounds that rate could dip to as low as 20-30% with access to computers and the internet once they got home (Computer Use, 2006). The school district in which I teach lies within a city that is surrounded by agricultural. The report found that rural areas also saw less use of computers at home. We have a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds in our classrooms, and a large hispanic population. All of these factors can statistically lower a student’s chances of having adequate access to educational technology at home. The point of the letter was to make parents aware of this potential problem. I assured them that their child would not be forced to do assignments that required access to technology they didn’t have, but did inform them of why we thought it was important for their student to get hands on experience with computers as soon as possible. This letter shows the parent that as a teacher I understand certain aspects about my students that makes me highly qualified to help them overcome their challenges, and my mastery of this AECT standard. As my school increases its use of Web 2.0 tools, I should try to get this letter included in the information we give out to parents at the beginning of the school year (once I refresh the research information).