Some schools choose to ban technology, saying it’s not that complicated and kids will learn it later. Other classrooms fully embrace technology to open windows to new worlds, including their own. But for many schools, financial restraints make the choice for them. Recently a group of inner-city students from Los Angeles who were fated with a technology depleted school decided instead of accepting their circumstances, they should set out to to start a revolution and change them, according to the Mind/Shift article “Students Demand the Right to Use Technology in Schools.”
Students from five inner-city schools in Los Angeles recently traveled to the Digital Media and Learning conference held in San Francisco with the money they raised on Kickstarter. They came holding their cell phones, tablets, and video cameras demanding the same opportunities afforded to their more affluent peers. One of their spokeswomen, Myquesha Moore, listed some of the following greivances:
- Students shouldn’t have to go off school grounds to find a working computer to do their homework on.
- A lack of technology in the classroom makes students part of a “permanent underclass.”
- “Give us the resources we need. Because there are children like me who give a damn about our future.”
The students researched the presence of technology, or lack thereof, at their schools using their personal smartphones, tablets, laptops, and cameras and presented their conclusions at the conference. At Crenshaw High, students found:
- 10 out of 14 computers worked, 2 are new, and three can print.
- 10 out of 30 laptops can access the Internet.
- 90% of computers operate on Windows 2001.
Students are not allowed to use their own technology in the classroom, but they also aren’t given acceptable pieces of technology to use in their place. These kids ask: “Doesn’t it make sense to use the tools that engage us the most? How are we supposed to use technology responsibly if we don’t use it at all? Why aren’t schools creating culturally relevant curriculum?” Why do publishers still have largely text based technology?
It’s important students learn how to use technology and also how to think critically about the information they share online. Some employers and colleges are asking applicants to show them their private Facebook profile during an interview, according to the article “Background Check for the Digital Age: Employers, College Insist on Full Facebook Access.” Scholarship providers also search for online identities of their applicants. If students don’t learn how to be responsible digital citizens in school, where will they learn it? Digital mistakes are forever and can hurt chances of getting employed, accepted in college, and keeping a job.
If students aren’t taught basic computer skills in school, how can they be expected to compete in the workforce against those who were ? How can the poverty cycle be stopped by affording underprivileged students the same tools as privileged students? How much will we as a society gain from students who learn to love challenge and can teach themselves as well as learn from others? What will it cost us if this doesn’t happen?