The economic decline has made it increasingly difficult for Americans to utilize the technologies necessary to bridge the digital divide. According to the United States Census Bureau, roughly eighty percent of Americans have access to the Internet. Around fifty-five percent of African Americans, as well as those belonging to other ethnic groups, have Internet access. These groups are, in turn, lacking the opportunity to participate in the growth of the modern-day economy.
In schools across the country, the youth are also disadvantaged due to their institution’s absence of sufficient and updated tools for learning. A select few schools, however, are taking steps into the next generation and are thriving when it comes to these technologies. Laptop computers, e-readers, and tablets are all becoming the norm as the needs of the student are being realized. Students today exhibit a need for structure, depth, models, and other visual aids in order to remain focused and reach their full potential. These devices offer a glimmer of hope for the future.
When students are faced with group work, technology can pave the way for solid communication between that group’s members. Submitting writing assignments electronically on sites like Turnitin (Turnitin.com) eliminates plagiarism as well as the classic “my dog ate my homework” excuse. The computer application SelfControl (downloadable at Selfcontrolapp.com) allows the user to block selected websites that may prove disrupting such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, or even Wikipedia.
Today, books are slowly becoming obsolete. The introduction of e-readers and tablets has revolutionized the way that readers interpret information by giving the user one page to focus on at a time as well as the ability to cut, paste, define words, underline, highlight, and take notes. Both of these devices are compatible with software that allows students to upload their school textbooks for instant access and may also stream audio, video, and have web capabilities. Tablets and e-readers usually run from about $30 to $1000.
We, as a people, suffer due to the fact that our institutions of learning are not developing as quickly as we are. Our brains and the way we learn are changing, but the entire time we are stuck with the same old textbooks, Windows 98 computers, and dial-up connection. The next step of our evolution begins here. Will you be a part of it?