Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Digital Divide Essay

The Digital Divide Essay

In an ever-changing technological world, some people are inevitably going to be left behind. Although the cost for home computers continues to lessen, a good percentage of Americans still cannot afford the "analytical engine." This gap between those who do and those who do not have access to computers or the Internet has come to be known as the "digital divide." Unfortunately, it is not only the lack of computers that creates this divide, but also the content of the Internet itself. In order to close the gap completely, access needs to be more prominent and content needs to be more suitable for those who are computer illiterate.


It is clear that those with low-income have less of a chance to purchase a computer for their home. However, that does not mean that access to the Internet is automatically denied. The Bush administration created a bill in 2002 that would set out to make all public schools have the ability to access the Internet.

Unfortunately, those who do no have access need more than the help from the federal government. Communities, especially those in very urban areas, need to be active. Many cities, such as New York or Philadelphia, have been creating places to access the Internet with in community centers, churches, mosques, etc. Even schools themselves are taking their own initiatives, partnering with other firms that may help them fund a program to help those people with low-income gain the access they have been denied.

A good example of schools taking initiative is that of Community School District (CSD) 10 in New York City. It is the largest in the city with a population of about 42,000 students. The students represent 108 countries and speak 75 languages: 66% are Latino, 21% African-American, and 11% white and Asian (Zardoya 1). Outside of the school, most of the students have little or no access to the Internet because their parent or parents have little resources to even provide for daily living. It is the opinion of the CSD that the lack of access and basic technological skills provides a barrier between their students, and students like them, and those who have regular access. The deprivation also causes the students to be left behind as future candidates for success in tomorrow's work environment and global economies.

The CSD is a good example because of what it has done for their students and their families. The CSD created a program called MAC at Home, a leasing agreement where the payments are split in half between the district and the home. At the end of the 36-month leasing term, the student can purchase the computer for just one dollar. "The leasing agreement provided several components: a 36-month plan, the I-Book and carrying case, an airport card for wireless connection in school, necessary for creating classroom environments, an extended 2-year warranty on parts and labor, and full insurance coverage against damage and theft since students would be carrying their laptops both to and from school daily," states school superintendent Irma Zardoya (7).

The concept of this program proved successful. Teachers reported that students completed their assignments faster on the laptop than with paper and pencil, which in turn granted the teachers more time for more lessons and activities (Zardoya 15). Teachers also said that there was a marked improvement in the overall quality of student work produced by students using a laptop as compared to non-laptop students (Zardoya 16). Students became more organized and showed greater responsibility. All we need now is for more and more schools to follow an example like that of CSD 10. Equal opportunity is expected in the work environment and in today's age, the same should go for the learning environment as well.

Besides access to the Internet, there is the concept of content. In his essay "One Internet, Two Nations," Henry Louis Gates Jr. discusses the concept of Internet content. He states, "Few African-Americans have been compelled to sign on to a medium that offers little interest to them. And educators interested in diversity have repeatedly raised concerns about the lack of minority-oriented educational software" (510). Gates also discusses an appropriate analogy to support this idea of Internet content. He brings up the fact that blacks responded to the recording industry of the 1920's only when companies, like Columbia Records, introduced records that were aimed at the African-American market. Instead of wasting money on records by white Americans, they would line up for several blocks for the newest record from a powerful black artist. Gates states,

"New content made the new medium attractive. The growth of Web sites dedicated to the interests and needs of African-Americans can play the same role for the Internet" (501).

In a study entitled Online Content for Low-Income and Underserved Americans: The Digital Divide's New Frontier, The Children's Partnership found that, "a lack of local and culturally diverse information on the Net present the greatest limitations for disadvantaged communities." (The Children's 3) The study also concluded that lack of access was not the primary reason low-income Americans were not online. The users themselves stated that they would use the Internet more if there were content that was engaging and useful to them (5). Many low-income users also discussed the fact that they wanted more localized information and that the information itself is written at lower literacy levels.

It is apparent that we have a "digital divide." It is necessary steps are taken, such as that of CSD 10, to help guide all citizens into the technological revolution. The entire nation was based on equality. That stands true now more than ever. The more technologically skilled people there are in this country, the better off the country will be. The world is competitive and the need for knowledgeable people is in high demand.

Warning!!! All free online essays, sample essays and essay examples on Digital Divide topics are plagiarized and cannot be completely used in your school, college or university education.

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