There is no social media use without the Internet--it's what connects social media users to each other. The digital divide creates gaps in that connectivity. Now that you've reviewed the material, how has the course content (material I post in the module, the readings and resources provided) extended, challenged, or deepened your initial understanding around the digital divide as it relates to Canadians in general and Aboriginal peoples in particular? To online learning and the notion of privilege? What implications does this have for social media use in an educational context? Will your knowledge affect your behaviours or expectations when using social media in an educational context? (Cite references as appropriate.)
September 14, 2013
Social Justice Boundaries
My teaching position from 1988-1999 was in an upper middle class neighborhood that included a low income housing cooperative. Our concern at that time, for the low income families, was their ability to purchase school supplies. When I started teaching in a distributed learning school in 2004 all the course work was paper based and we had one computer for the administration to use.
Things have changed a great deal since then. The BC Ministry of Education is looking to 21st century learning and in relation to this has developed the “BC Education Plan” (2011). With this comes the expectation of increased use of technology. As cited by Hengstler (2013b) from Hicks and Turner (2013), "...we know that students in areas without access to tools of technology and the Internet will struggle to participate economically and politically" (64). Hengstler (2013b) also cited Looker & Naylor (2010) "school and public access can compensate in important ways for lack of home access" (14). If we take in to account that there are families, that due to socio-economic and geographical circumstances, do not have access to a computer and/or Wi-Fi then the ministry needs to be prepared to come forth with the money needed to provide computers and Wi-Fi access to all BC schools. Without this the digital divide will continue to exist and once again those who may need this knowledge most, to move up in society, will be left behind.
Presently I work in a school building that houses three schools, Distributed Learning, Alternative Education and Continuing Education. We have a number of Aboriginal students that attend all three schools. I have found as stated by Hengstler (2013a), “Despite the technological hurdles, research around the country and in BC note that Aboriginal people--like most Canadians--are active on social media.” Although some students appear to deal with socio-economic difficulties, they still manage to have access to a computer at home and/or at school, while others are walking around with an IPod and/or cell phone that can access social media. Being connected is important to today’s youth.
In looking to social privacy, which should go hand in hand with all schools having access to the world wide web and in particular social media, the Ministry of Education either needs to come up with a province wide policy on the acceptable use of social media, in relation to school work and the school community, or expect each school district to do so.
There is a point that Hengstler (2013b) made that I would like to question,
….My first inclination was that I'm teaching professionals who will be teaching in online or hybrid
environments; ipso facto, their students will have the necessary technical skills. Then I questioned
myself a bit further, "Why is it ipso facto? Aren't these types of programs self-selecting for students
with technical inclinations? If so, what are the social justice aspects for those who do not have the
opportunities to develop technical skills because of socio-economic constraints?" ….( Hengstler
Not all of the students who presently register in the PE 10-12 courses I teach, in a distributed learning school, do so in relation to technical inclination or technical skills. They do so as the course meets their learning needs. For some they do not have access to a computer at home so they access and submit their work either through the school computers or go to the public library. In relation to students having the necessary skills needed when they choose to do an online course, this is not always true. For those who due to socio-economic constraints may not have the technical skills can develop them as they work through the course work, with guidance from experts in the field, classmates and perhaps even through viewing YouTube videos. In this way they can successfully develop technical skills, in relation to the usage of a range of online tools and social media.
To think twice about offering a student the opportunity to take an online course due to lack of technical skill, technical inclination and/or socio-economic constraints does a disservice to our students, and can add to the digital divide and lead to further social injustice.
BC Ministry of Education. (2011). The BC Education Plan. Retrieved from
Hengstler, Julia(2013a). Aboriginal Contexts. Vancouver Island University, OLTD506_2013, in D2L.
Hengstler, Julia (2013b). Social Justice Boundaries. Vancouver Island University OLTD506_2013, in D2L.