This creates a problem in terms of homework exercises: students without a computer at home could hardly be expected to complete computer assignments outside of the classroom. This widens the digital divide, as students with computers at home have a large advantage in terms of learning and concomitant future opportunities.
Solutions for the Digital Divide
The digital divide is a significant problem not only in education, but also in terms of job opportunities and the future of learners. It is directly connected to the divide between the very rich and the extremely poor, which means that it is imperative to address the problem if any social equality and human rights are going to be reached in the future.
TeacherNet (2007) cites the case study of Bowbridge Primary School, where an initiative has been launched to increase the learners' access to computers not only at school, but also at home. The project entails a small donation (of 1-2 pounds per week), for which students receive laptops from which they can access the Internet and school system both from school and home. Such an initiative provides learners with the opportunity of increased learning. The donations are also used towards upgrading the school's library and information systems, that students can visit for their learning needs.
Projects such as the above provide a very good solution for the digital divide, and will increase the opportunities of those with smaller incomes. Specifically, such projects also target the adult population, as children can share their knowledge and learning with parents at home via the laptops the school provides. This will furthermore increase the potential of families to earn additional or higher incomes.
The overall goal of the district's instructional plan is to improve instruction for all students. In order to achieve this, the focus will be on all sub-populations in the area, including Anglo, African-American, Hispanic, and Asian, as well as groups such as those who are economically disadvantaged, need special education, and are English language learners. Action strategies will focus on incorporating engaging activities, programs, tasks, assignments, assessments and opportunities, integrated towards the goal of increased student learning. The action strategies are divided into a number of different subject areas.
Action strategies for all the academic subjects and special projects focus greatly on educational support for both teachers and students, and particularly for new teachers and struggling students. The aim is to provide all students with the opportunity to reach their full potential. Further strategies relate to integrating relevant reading, writing and vocabulary skills into the various subject areas.
The primary action strategy for all areas is academic support. This integrates with reading, writing and vocabulary skills. In order to be of optimal help to students, teachers are supported via relevant training programs. These are appropriate to each teacher's existing experience and training level. In terms of training, students are treated in the same way. Students with particular learning needs are taken into account, and opportunities for special training are provided to those who require it. For this purpose, particular assessment programs are put in place to assess the needs of each student. Teaching strategies are then implemented accordingly.
It appears that the primary action strategy is targeted towards the meeting the specific needs not only of students, but also of teachers. Providing educational opportunities for teachers means that students also receive a higher quality of education. This addresses the objective of ensuring increased learning. Specifically, the needs of non-English speakers as well as special needs learners are met via implementing specific strategies that address their concerns and shortcomings. Training teachers in these concerns also help them to implement specific and targeted strategies within their classrooms.
Furthermore, the objectives of the plan are met via creating opportunities for students to learn not only material directly related to subjects such as science, mathematics, or social studies, but also related skills for correctly addressing such material. Skills such as reading, writing, and research methodologies are integrated with all subject areas in order to help students develop skill sets that are targeted towards their future beyond the school setup.
I do believe that this strategy will provide the feedback the Board of Trustees need to evaluate the District Instructional Plan for the purpose of modification if necessary. The reason for this is that the strategy is directly targeted towards reaching the primary goal of the plan: to provide opportunities for increased learning for everybody, regardless of ethnic, educational, or mental background.
The strategy also includes numerous assessment methods, on a continuous basis, as well as on yearly and quarterly levels. The results of these assessments will then provide the authorities with an indication of which specific strategies work best, and which need to be modified.
I believe that the focus on targeted instruction and skills integration is a good combination to provide both students and teachers with the skills necessary to obtain optimal results both in the present and in the future. By targeting specific needs, both students and teachers are assured of the best quality that is possible in instruction.
LMS Associates (1990). Lesson Plan: History of Mathematics. http://www.eduref.org/cgi-bin/printlessons.cgi/Virtual/Lessons/Mathematics/History/MAH0001.html
Malachowski, Michael J. (2007). ADDIE-Based Five-Step Method Towards Instructional Design. http://fog.ccsf.cc.ca.us/~mmalacho/OnLine/ADDIE.html#ID
Mallette, Bryan (2007). Social Change Instructional Plan. http://www.lessonplanspage.com/SSSociologySocialChangeHS.htm
National Institute for Literacy. (1999) a Research-based Guide for Literacy Practitioners Serving Adults with Learning Disabilities. Guidebook 3. Washington DC: AED. http://www.nifl.gov/nifl/ld/reports/bridges_pt3.pdf
North East Independent School District (2007). District Instructional Plan. http://www.neisd.net/camp/campusplan/DIP_0708_MasterJuly2007.pdf
Robert Gagne (1916-2002). http://www.my-ecoach.com/idtimeline/theory/gagne.html
TeacherNet.com (2007). Narrowing the 'digital divide'. Bowbridge Primary School. http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/casestudies/casestudy.cfm?id=220&subcatid=84&catid=36