Monthly Archives: July 2011

Technology Integration and The Digital Divide

What does Digital Divide mean?  It refers to the number of people who use technology to connect to the internet vs. the number of people that without the capability to connect to the internet.  There is a distinctive gap between those that are engaged in the use of connected technology via mobile devices and hard lines and those that are not connected.  The Digital Divide is not just affecting those here in the US; the entire world is part of this have and have not world. The inception of the World Wide Web has seen a large gap between the haves and have-nots; this was also the case with the telephone, radio and TV in each of their inceptions. defines divide as; to separate into parts, groups, sections, etc. It defines inequality as; the condition of being unequal; lack of equality; disparity: inequality of size.

Digital Divide: The gap between those who have access to digital technologies and those who do not; or the gap between those who use digital technologies and those who do not understood in binary terms distinguishing the “haves” from the “have-nots” (Hargittai 2003)

(USA Today 2011- all graphs)

According to USA Today, (2011), Fifty-one percent of Hispanics and 46% of blacks use their phones to access the Internet, compared with 33% of whites, according to a July 2010 Pew poll. Forty-seven percent of Latinos and 41% of blacks use their phones for e-mail, compared with 30% of whites. The figures for using social media like Facebook via phone were 36% for Latinos, 33% for blacks and 19% for whites.

Peter Chow-White, an assistant communications professor at Simon Fraser University and co-author of “Race After the Internet.”  States, “As long as you have structural inequalities in society, you cannot expect to have anything less than that on the Internet,” he says. “The Internet is not a separate space from the world, it’s intricately connected to everyday life and social institutions.”



In the western hemisphere the Digital Divide has a distinctive gap when comparing North, Central, and South America.  The US and Canada have 4 times the mobile use and 6 times the internet connection as Central and South America.  The US has more then twice the number of Internet users than the remaining 42 countries in the America’s.  Brazil, Canada, and the US make up 80% of the Internet users in all the America’s.  Mobil use in the US is only at about 60%, while some countries in the have 100% mobile penetration (USA Today, (2011).

The general public is unaware of the significant problem that not only our great country faces but all developed and developing counties face.  We are staring at a revolution that is leaving many behind, even with the greatest intentions of our government, nationally and locally.

The encouraging aspect of this is that as the market grows so does the availability of Internet access as long as pricing is kept in check.  The gaps are getting smaller as we move forward in the Internet connected generation.  Research also shows that that cell phone service prices have dropped almost 25% in the last decade and Internet service has only come down 4%.  The electronic devises that are available for connectivity has increased steadily over the last decade and show no signs of slowing down and prices have come down with the influx of new technology, but connection prices have not come down to match.  As wonderful as this new technology is, it does no good for connectivity if the Internet service provider has priced most of America out of the market.  Along those lines, with the purchase of new technology, the user will need to understand how to operate the new technology to its fullest potential.  Without the understanding of how to use the Internet other then to be the end user, the user does not gain the full potential of being connected.

There are ways of correcting the Digital Divide we face in the US so as to ensure our competitive edge in the global market.

  1. The first comes with education by enforcing the knowledge of communication and understanding of how to use technology as a means to improving our way of life.
  2. Keep the cost of equipment and Internet service down to an affordable level for all economic levels.
  3. Recycling used equipment to be refurbished and sold at a discounted price to those that cannot afford new equipment.
  4. The last would come from training individuals on how to use the technology for more then just being the end user, to have a more proactive role in the Internet.



Barzilai-Nahon, K. (2006). Gaps and bits: Conceptualizing measurements for digital divide/s. The Information Society, 22(5), 269-278. (PDF file)

Computer and Internet Use by Students in 2003. (2006). Retrieved from

DiMaggio, P., & Hargittai, E. (2001). From the ‘digital divide’ to ‘digital inequality:’ Studying Internet use as penetration increases. Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Working Paper Series number, 15. Retrieved from…gittai.pdf

DiMaggio, P., Hargittai, E., Celeste, C., & Shafer, S. (2004). From unequal access to differentiated use: A literature review and agenda for research on digital inequality.

Social Inequality, 355-400. Retrieved from…uality.pdf

Hargittai, E. (2003). The digital divide and what to do about it. New Economy Handbook, 821-839. Retrieved from…divide.pdf

ITU Country rankings. (2010). Retrieved from

McConnaughey, J., Nila, C. A., & Sloan, T. (1995). Falling through the net: A survey of the “have nots” in rural and urban America. National Telecommunications And Information Administration. Retrieved from

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Posted by on July 26, 2011 in Uncategorized


Assistive/Adaptive Technology for Education

When you turn on the news, read a newspaper, or read your news online, you are most likely going see the debate over how much money should be cut from education and what programs or resources will be lost because of the cutbacks.  In this post I hope to show some of the reasons we need to make sure that assistive and adaptive technologies are not only still funded but possibly see an increase in funding.  What is assistive and adaptive technology?  According to assistive and adaptive technology is:

Assistive Technology Products can enable people with disabilities to accomplish daily living tasks, assist them in communication, education, work or recreation activities, in essence, help them achieve greater independence and enhance their quality of life.

Assistive Technology devices can help improve physical or mental functioning, overcome a disorder or impairment, help prevent the worsening of a condition, strengthen a physical or mental weakness, help improve a person’s capacity to learn, or even replace a missing limb.

Assistive Technology Services support people with disabilities or their caregivers to help them select, acquire, or use adaptive devices. Such services include functional evaluations, training on devices, product demonstration, and equipment purchasing or leasing.

According to Roblyer & Doering (2010) assistive/adaptive technology is extending the abilities of an individual in ways that provide physical access (e.g., wheelchairs, braces) and sensory access (e.g., Braille, closed caption).  The common goals of assistive technology are to provide an individual with: the opportunity to become more independent, learning capabilities, and to become productive.  When we talk about assistive technology, a person without a disability sees a type of technology that will increase persons opportunities.  The question we need to ask ourselves is, what does the person with the disability see?  The answers we might get back will be; freedom from limitations, independence from relying on others for communication or mobility, the chance to express there selves visually or verbally, and the opportunity to accomplish a task solely to feel the joy and pride in the accomplishment.  Who needs the assistive technology and who doesn’t get it?  The IDEA provides us with answers to these questions.The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that students with disabilities receive special education to enable them to have the opportunities the mainstream student has.  The following statistics were gathered by the National Center on Education Statistics (NCES), Special Education Regulation, in 2001.

  • Nation-wide, depending on the student’s specific disability, 55% to 64% of schools that serve students with disabilities reported that they provide assistive or adaptive hardware while 39% to 56% provided adaptive software for these students.
  • Special hardware was less likely to be available to students with learning disabilities in schools with the high minority enrollment compared to schools with low minority enrollment, 47% versus 61%, respectively.
  • Availability of special software for students with physical disabilities was more prevalent in large schools (60%) than in small schools (40%).
  • Only 35% of elementary schools were found to provide special software for children with hearing disabilities, while this was observed in 48% of secondary schools.
  • Schools with the highest poverty concentrations were less likely to provide special hardware and software for students with visual disabilities. High poverty schools provided hardware 52% of the time and software 42% of the time, while schools with students from more affluent backgrounds were better able to provide visually impaired students with both hardware (71%) and software (63%).

The table below show a chart of students enrolled in 2001, of the schools reporting back information 95% enrolled students with cognitive disabilities. (National Center for Educational Statics, 2001) Schools with the highest poverty concentration were less likely to have special hardware and software available for students with visual disabilities than were schools with the lowest poverty concentration (52 percent compared with 71 percent for hardware, and 42 percent compared with 63 percent for software).



Without assistive technology we deny the students with disabilities the chance to be all they can and want to be.  We keep them from expressing their self to the fullest extent possible.  Providing an assistive/adaptive technology for a student with disabilities is not an option, it should be automatic.

Resources for Assistive/Adaptive Technology
This website provides several resource links for different types of assistive and adaptive technology.
Adaptive Technology Center for NJ Colleges Fall 2009 at The College of New Jersey 
 Dawn Ontario Disabled Women’s Network Ontario
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
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Posted by on July 18, 2011 in Uncategorized


Using Spreadsheets and Databases

What is a spreadsheet and database?  What are the differences between a spreadsheet and database?  We must understand this before we can move forward on why and how to use them in a classroom or at work.

A Spreadsheet is a program designed to organize and manipulate numerical data (Roblyer & Doering, 2010).  Information is organized in rows (horizontal) and columns (vertical).  The information is placed in a cell, the intersecting point of a row and column.  The cells, rows and columns can be manipulated to suit different requirements of the person creating the spreadsheet.

The advantages of using a spreadsheet in your classroom or at work include: (Roblyer & Doering, 2010)

  • Spreadsheets perform calculations that save time by not having to perform the calculation manually.  Formulas can be created manually or upload from the spreadsheet program.
  • Spreadsheets are capable of organizing and storing data in manipulated rows or columns.
  • Spreadsheets enable the creator to see visually how numerical data is affected by changes in data.  The data can be utilized to create charts and graphs for visual effects.
  • Spreadsheets allow the end user (students, workers) to work with technology; this is a motivating tool for teachers.
  • Spreadsheets increase productivity on students and teachers.
  • Spreadsheets are a way of displaying and tracking grades for all users.

A database is a computer program that allows the user store, organize, and manipulate information, including both text and numerical data (Roblyer & Doering, 2010).  Databases can perform simple calculations but they are mostly used for storing and recovering information.

The advantages of using a database in your classroom or at work include: (Roblyer & Doering, 2010)

  • Databases reduce the redundancy of stored information by allowing multiple people to view the same database document.
  • Databases allow you to input new and change existing information without having to create a new document.
  • Databases enable you to compare information that meets specific criteria.
  • Databases show relationships between stored information.

In the complexity of our technologically advancing society it is in the best interest of the students that teachers utilize the tools of a spreadsheet and/or database in the classroom.  Students are subjected to numbers with just about everything they participate in at school and outside of school.  Using these tools helps prepare the students for life after school.  There are numerous website with example lessons that could work in your curriculum.  A few websites are listed below for locating spreadsheet and database lesson plans.

Computer Applications


Manassas City Public Schools spreadsheets

Manassas City Public Schools databases

National Teacher Training institute

The article Computer Spreadsheets and Draw Programs in the classroom (Ploger, Rooney, Klinger, 1996), discusses the use of a draw program used in conjunction with a spreadsheet in multiple phases.  The students create spatial patterns using a draw program then examine the number patterns created in a spreadsheet to determine relationships.  I can visualize how an art teacher may collaborate with a math teacher to create a lesson similar to the one described above.  (Evans, 2000) talks about building simulation models to track data collected through observation to illustrate probability.  The simulation goes through four steps to create the spreadsheet:

  1. Formulating the problem
  2. Developing a logical model
  3. Specifying probabilistic assumptions
  4. Implementing the model

This formula would also fit with most science courses for measure data when conducting experiments.  In my 9thgrade manufacturing course I teach the students how to build a spreadsheet for tracking all the data related to producing a product during the planning, production, and sell of the items produced.  The students are able to see how the cost of materials, production time, cost of advertising, commission paid, and profits are tracked.  This also allows them the opportunity to see how it all affects the sell price of the product produced.

YouTube video on spreadsheets.


Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (1985). TechTrends: For leaders in education & training. Washington, D.C.: Association for Educational Communications & Technology.

Evans, . (January 01, 2000). Spreadsheets as a Tool for Teaching Simulation. Informs Transactions on Education, 1, 1, 27-37.

Locsin A. (2011). The advantages of using spreadsheets. Retrieved from

Ploger, D., Rooney, M., & Klinger, L. (1996). Computer spreadsheets and draw programs in the classroom. TechTrends, 41(3), 26-29. doi:10.1007/BF02818876

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.


Posted by on July 10, 2011 in Uncategorized


Benefits of Multimedia

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off video clip, YouTube.  Retrieved July 3, 2011.
Hill, F. & Cohen, S. (2004). Impacts of design on learning: multimedia in the classroom. Franklin Hill & Associates.
Ludwig, T. E., Hope College. Daniel, D. B., University of Maine at Farmington. Froman, R., John Brown University. Mathie, V. A. James Madison University. (2004). Using multimedia in classroom presentations: best principles. Pedagogical Innovations Task Force.
Pink Panther video clip, YouTube. Retrieved July 3, 2011.
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Posted by on July 9, 2011 in Uncategorized


Video Enhanced Lesson

This SlideShare presentation is a lesson plan for creating stop motion animation at the middle school level, grades 8 and 9.

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Posted by on July 4, 2011 in Uncategorized


Stop Motion Animation

This SlideShare presentation is the handout that is given to my students in class when we start the activity.

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Posted by on July 4, 2011 in Uncategorized


Social Networking and Walled Gardens

Walled Gardens

In my 9 years of teaching I’ve worked in two school district that are only separated by 125 miles.  The geographical location is relatively close, however the student body demographics and backgrounds are completely different.  Regardless of the differences in the student body the school districts have the same opinions when it comes to Internet social networks walled gardens.  The stance both districts have taken is to not allow the students access to social network sites at all.   As social networks become more prevalent and relevant to a student from the ages of 10 on up we come to a crossroads with Internet inclusion.  Should we consider using social networks in the classroom as part of our lesson plans?  First, we must understand what a (social network) walled garden really is.  Webopdedia defines a social network walled garden in this way.

On the Internet, a walled garden refers to a browsing environment that controls the information and Web sites the user is able to access. This is a popular method used by ISPs in order to keep the user navigating only specific areas of the Web, whether for the purpose of shielding users from information — such as restricting children’s access to pornography — or directing users to paid content that the ISP supports. America Online is a good example of an ISP that places users in a walled garden.

Schools are increasingly using the walled garden approach in creating browsing environments in their networks. Students have access to only limited Web sites, and teachers need a password in order to leave the walled garden and browse the Internet in its entirety.

The term walled garden also commonly refers to the content that wireless devices such as mobile phones have access to if the content provided by the wireless carrier is limited.

When we talk about social networks our first thoughts usually turn to Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, YouTube and possibly online gaming.  What does not come up are all the websites that have educational roots for classroom instruction.  These websites include, BuddyPress, CourseCracker, Diigo, Elgg,, and many more websites.  The Educational Networking website offers a list of educational networking websites and a description of their function, including links directly to the websites.

The common goal of a walled garden is to protect the students from inappropriate content found on websites.  The problem with this attitude is the firewalls put up to block content and websites is very general and widespread.  Therefore, most if not all social networking websites are block from student and teacher use at school.  If a student is accessing a social network before and after school to find help with homework, then why not incorporate that into classroom instruction.  Creating social network websites specifically for a curriculum that allows students to share ideas and information will only improve their chances of succeeding in the classroom and outside of school.

Students today use the internet daily for staying in touch with friends and family, gaming, checking grades, watching videos, listening to music and other activities.  An article in Science Daily (UM 2008) states, of the student’s surveyed 94 percent used the Internet, 82 percent go online at home and 77 percent had a profile on a social networking site. When asked what they learn from using social networking sites, the students listed technology skills as the top lesson, followed by creativity, being open to new or diverse views and communication skills.  These are some of the skills that are required of most high school and college graduates when applying for jobs.  A study done by tella Wen Tian of the University of Science & Technology of China (Suzhou Campus) and Angela Yan Yu, Douglas Vogel and Ron Chi-Wai Kwok of City University of Hong Kong found that social networks have a positive impact on a student’s educational experience.  The study shows that “In terms of learning, students reported that Facebook allowed them to connect with the faculty and other students in term of friendship/social relationship, provide comments to peers/share knowledge, share feelings with peers, join Groups established for subjects, collaboration: notification, discussion, course schedule, project management calendar and to use educational applications for organizing learning activities (Tian, Yu, Vogel, and Kwok 2011).  Author Christian Dalsgaard believes that social networking should not be the main source of educational instruction but rather a supplement to other tools for enhancing instruction.  He also states that transparency in the communication between students, and student and instructor is vital to the potential of social networks in education.

There are always positive and negative aspects to any argument, however when it comes to incorporating social networks in curriculums the positive out weight the negative heavily.  A social network can be a tremendous asset to teachers during school and outside of school for communicating information.  If the goal of a school district were to prepare their students for a career in tomorrow’s world, the district would be doing the student an injustice by not incorporating social networking into the curriculum.


Dalsgaard, C. (0000). Social networking sites: Transparency in online education. Institute of Information and Media Studies, University of Aarhus, Helsingforsgade 14, 8200 Aarhus N, Denmark. Retrieved July 1, 2011, from

Inderscience Publishers (2011, May 9). Social learning: Can Facebook and related tools improve educational outcomes?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 2, 2011, from

University of Minnesota (2008, June 21). Educational Benefits Of Social Networking Sites Uncovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 1, 2011, from

Wieland, K. (2007). Walled gardens come tumbling down. Telecommunications, 41(9), 16-18. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

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Posted by on July 3, 2011 in Uncategorized