Intro: There exists in America a gap, widening gap between inner-city and rural education. The trend across the United States is consistent: urban youth do not achieve as much in school as kids in rural or suburban areas. But why does that gap exist? Could a lack of technology be the blame for it? What can be done to begin to close the gap and raise education for these inner-city schools? These are three key questions I will address in this report.

What is the problem?

It may be difficult to believe with technology seemingly everywhere these days that there could be a deficiency in inner-city schools’ technology. But studies show, every child may not have the same access to technology. In 1996, a national study was conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress aimed at analyzing the relationship between different cases of educational technology and its various uses in schools. They observed a group of 6,627 fourth graders and 7,146 eighth graders. It is important to note that the study was not just focused on the how many computers were available to each demographic of student, but rather four factors of computer use:

  1. Student access to computers at school for mathematical tasks.
  2. Access to, and frequency of use of computers at home.
  3. Preparedness of mathematical teachers for using computers.
  4. Ways both students and teachers use the computers.

The study showed  was that ethnicity and community status had a vast impact on the usage and access to a computer. Though urban school and schools with a high population of black students tended to have lower test scores and a higher dropout rate among other separating factors, their computer usage was consistently higher than suburban white students, at least at school. Among fourth graders, the gap was about ten percent (42%, black students reported using a computer at least once a week at school while only 32% of white students had). The eighth graders followed a similar trend.

However when it came to domestic use of computers, the results were much different. Usage of computers among Asian and White students at home was at about 68 and 64 percent respectively, while among Black and Latino students it was 45 and 44 percent. Sixty-three percent of those students living in rural or suburban areas had access to computers at home while only 53 percent of urban students had home computers.

But what about actual usage? Despite the lack of having an actual computer in the home of many urban and black students, this demographic had the highest use of computers among their peers by almost 30 percent. And teachers? There were seven percent less teachers of urban schools who had training on how to use the computers in their school within five years of the study. (Winglinsky)

But what does it matter? So evidence shows that computer usage among urban youth especially black is on par with others but access to computer usage is much less. Is that really important in determining why there is an education gap? According to a 2002 University of Illinois study, plenty of good can come from IT or information technology. They found similar results to their study which examined a little more than 1,000 14 year olds about their computer usage at home. The two groups they looked at were the highest and lowest income families in the area. (The study found more than 97 percent of the upper class kids had and used computers at home, while only 85 percent of lower class kids did the same.)

Mary Keegan, a professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois says that IT is vital in developing a child’s chances of succeeding in life. She cites four reasons why this is so important.

  • Future employment and earnings
  • Seventy-four percent of youth surveyed about jobs said that IT was a crucial factor in helping them find and get a job.
  • Opportunities for civic and social involvement
  • Educational advantages
  • Helps provide teachers with a wide body of info to teach kids.
  • Creates new opportunities to help kids retain meta level knowledge and make it interesting to them
  • Motivates kids to keep learning
  • Brings greater awareness of equity and civil rights issues

(Keegan)

Others authors will blame the apparent gap in education standards not on statistics, but rather on factors that cannot per se be traced back to any evidence. These conclusions are based on qualitative evidence rather than quantitative.

Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz puts emphasis on the teacher’s prejudice against urban kids. She says that teachers feel urban youth aren’t able to handle educationally what suburban youth are and don’t give them the same opportunities. The best environment for these kids is one that embraces their cultural diversity and meets the kids where they are to help them learn on an equal playing field with other youth. (Sealy-Ruiz)

Susan Goslee and Chris Conte, Authors of Losing Ground Bit by Bit: Low-Income Communities in the Information Age, say community issues are to blame. They say there’s not just a lack of technology in schools and in homes of urban youth, but in their whole community. And that can most directly be contributed to the lack of funds in these areas. Most funding for projects that insert technology centers and such into local communities is provided by private donors, a luxury not often afforded to low-income communities. The lack of technology can really set a community behind especially for the kids that grow up in it. (Gosslee and Conte)

So what’s being done?

Despite these disparaging facts for urban neighborhoods, the good news is there are people out there looking to help bring technology aid to those areas that really need it.

University of Massachusetts-Amhearst Professor K.C. Nat Turner recognized that certain poor areas in California were lacking in educational standards. He began a study on what he referred to as Fannon Middle School (not the actualy name). The school was located in a very poor neighborhood and test scores were below the state average. The study would see how well these kids could analyze, critique and create their own media, a concept that was almost completely foreign to them.

The results were very successful. After 10 weeks of meeting with the kids about three hours per week in a computer lab teaching them these skills, the final product was remarkable. In addition to learning basic computer skills, kids in the program were able to further develop their media literacies to interpret and articulate their findings and use them across a number of different contexts. The skills they learned helped them do other homework they were given as well.

The Science Leadership Academy located in Philadelphia is a college preparatory program that teaches its kids a little differently from the traditional institution. Instead of focusing on regular teaching methods, the school uses a technological approach to learning that focuses on engaging the kids in an acquisition style of learning. The class periods last much longer than normal schools allowing the kids to have additional time with teachers to participate in labs, giving them hands-on experiences. The learning process is one that is interesting and motivational to the kids and they can use their skills outside their school as well to help create knowledge at home and in their communities. Here is the PBS documentary: http://video.pbs.org/video/1797357384/

It’s a real shame that there is such a gap in education between inner-city school and suburban areas. Being given fair opportunities to learn however is only half the battle. The evidence has told me that urban kids have been given the short end of the stick in terms of opportunities to gain access to technology. But based on the fact that studies have shown usage among this group is more than their peers, one can see that what you do with the technology given is just as important as providing the actual technology itself.

The study conducted by K.C. Nat Turner was instrumental in proving this theory. I feel that on top of providing programs that teach and provide technology to kids, there should be further instruction on how to properly use technology to help enhance their futures. The study conducted in the Winglinsky article did not investigate what the kids used the computers to do, but one can come to the conclusion that not as much time was spent on the computers for urban and Black youth enhancing their media education than their fellow peers. That is what has to change.

In terms of funding such projects, the truth is what it is: these neighborhoods do not have the money to support such projects on their own. There are some programs out there to help them out some but the problem is bigger than that. There are many external factors that have a great impact on how much money is in these communities that reaches beyond anything technology can begin to solve. Until these bigger economic issues are resolved, there will continue to be a struggle in lower-income, urban communities to gain funding for such programs.

Schools like the Science Leadership Academy are fantastic for education not just within poor neighborhoods, but communities everywhere. I feel it’s extremely important to give these kids a voice. In order for that to happen, they need to be able to understand media literacy. Traditional learning will continue to set urban school children behind.

Works Cited

Eamon, Mary. (2004). Digital Divide in Computer Access and Use Between Youth and Non-Youth. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare.

Goslee, Susan, Conte, Chris. (1998). Losing Ground Bit by Bit: Low-Income Communities in the Information Age.

Sealey-Ruiz, Yolanda and Greene, Perry. (2011). Embracing Urban Youth Culture in the Context of Education. Urban Review. 43 (3), 339-357.

Tuner, KC Nat. (2011). “Rap Universal”: Using Multimodal Media Production to develop ICT Literacies. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.

Wenglinsky, Harold. (2000). Does It Compute? The Relationship between Educational Technology and Student Achievement in Mathematics. 1-41.

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Image  —  Posted: November 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

Reading response 4

Posted: October 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

The first main idea of the articles and movie was that through non-traditional, hands on learning via games, education is now meeting kids halfway so they can learn. The fact that kids tweet, text and facebook so much these days is unavoidable. What schools like the gaming school in New York are doing is allowing the kids to learn the same set of skills, but in a different way. More importantly it is in a way that they can enjoy, so they’re encouraged to continue. The article and video are both very clear. The curriculum is still the same. Children are still expanding their knowledge through learning and even keeping up with the standards the state is giving to them. But the method makes all the difference. Kids are learning the same way that they entertain themselves and having fun in a structured, educational way. In some ways, it’s almost like the kids aren’t aware that what they’re doing is actually “school”. Many forms of text that the kids are receiving are not traditional books or papers that directly address reading and writing skills, but are built upon these concepts.

Also the kids designing games at the school are not just learning the content, but are being trained to be experts on the subjects. So much so that they can now use the skills that they learned to teach others,  a very effective method of learning.

The second main idea was the idea of tinkering. John Seely Brown said it best when he said “Tinkering brings thought and action together in some very powerful, magical ways.” He later says that the structure of a video game is set up in such a way that there is a problem presented to the player that he or she must then solve in order to move on or win. Learning through technology allows the “players” or students to break down a complex concept into several smaller concepts to be attacked. Not to mention it’s still a lot of fun for the kids. They can also use their power of community to test their knowledge on other students or ask for help. A hive mind is typically more powerful than a single one.

The third idea was technology is allowing certain kids who otherwise wouldn’t have an opportunity to express themselves, to do just that. Kids at the Digital Youth Network are using technology as a tool to further express their character. Many of the kids in the program would not have an opportunity to do some of the things that they were doing if it wasn’t for technology. Without it, one would think it would be difficult for them to discover positive things that they are capable of. Discovering hidden talents is a huge deal especially to inner-city school kids who are slacking in the opportunities department. They can not only dream big, but also accomplish big things.

Weekly Response 3

Posted: September 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

Even though LeBron James is plastered all across this commercial, Nike is actually the real author of this message. The purpose is was complicated as Nike sells shoes and other athletic apparel, yet the purpose of the commercial was to defend LeBron’s big decision to play for Miami that year instead of staying in his home town to win a championship. The commercial uses fast clips of varying scenes featuring LeBron in many aspects. The fact that he is in the commercial at all holds quite a lot of attention to the viewer. The content of what LeBron is saying is very controversial especially for the time that this commercial was aired. Many fans and non-fans alike wanted to hear his response to the whole situation. LeBron’s view is the only one represented here. He feels that his change of scenery was the right decision despite all the flak he took for it. Fans of his outside the city of Cleveland or even the state of Ohio might take this lightly and consider it a move in the right direction for him. They would enjoy the comedy and sting that commercial’s message brought. However, a resident of Cleveland or a fan of the Cavaliers might think that this message was arrogant and wrong. What is very obviously omitted from this commercial was an attempt to sell any type of product of Nike. They simply slapped their name on the end, and flashed a few pairs of LeBron’s sneaker line in the middle. The logo lingered in the commercial with the possible intention of slipping in some subliminal advertising while we watched LeBron defend himself. 

Weekly Response 2

Posted: September 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

“It is sometimes helpful to say it is not individuals who speak and act, but rather historically and socially defined discourses speak to each other through individuals.” (Gee, ‘What is Literacy?’ pg. 3)

-This says to me that individuals themselves do not hold values and beliefs alone. Rather, each individual in a sense subscribes to a particular discourse or discourses and becomes a representative of that discourse. The individual is the vehicle which carries the message of the discourse to others. In some cases, they support each other’s notions, and other times they must defend their discourse.

“We are better at what we acquire, but we consciously know more about what we have learned.” (Gee, ‘What is Literacy’ pg. 4)

-Gee describes acquisition as acquiring knowledge through experiencing events with some trial and error. Traditional learning occurs through a ‘teacher’ who knows the subject and can analyze it making it understandable to the students. This statement is powerful because it acknowledges the strengths of both types of learning bringing to light that both methods are important to educational development. They can both be used in different settings of our lives where appropriate.

“Players can perform before they are competent, supported by the design of the game.”

-This statement is a testament to the level of comfort a student will feel when learning through video gaming. In a usual school environment, the system only allows a student to show their skills after they are given an opportunity to fully know the material. In video gaming, I feel it’s very important that kids experience the material as they are learning it. According to Gee, their skills will be more defined after learning through acquisition.

“While we can visually detect most people who can overhear our speech in unmediated spaces, it is virtually impossible to ascertain all those who might run across our expressions in networked publics.”

This is a powerful statement about the anonymity of the internet from the publics, or ‘other’ point of view. I think it’s very interesting how private we attempt to keep our real-world communication, yet seemingly have no problem sharing all kinds of information on the internet about ourselves and to other people. But perhaps that is what drives us to do so. If there is no one in front of us to judge the nature of our conversation, then we become more open to share that information.

“Good video games lower the consequences of failure…Players are thereby encouraged to take risks, explore and try new things.”

Taking risks I feel is a crucial part of learning. The fact that we are human means that we are inevitably going to make mistakes, lots of them. In traditional education, making mistakes is often punished in such a way that children are heavily encouraged not to make them. With games, kids can mess up and learn from that mistake without ever having to worry that their grade will be lowered or that they will be reprimanded. Taking that pressure off learning can make it both fun and more effective.

 

Goffman, Erving.  1963.  Behavior in Public Places.  New York: The Free Press.

-I found this citation in the article “Why Youth (Heart) Social Networking sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life” by Danah boyd. I picked this citation because I am interested in the way humans react in certain situations under different circumstances. The title seemed to fit my interests. I found it first by googling the title and author, then finding the electronic version at Temple’s eLibrary. The book talks a lot about human behaviors that are rarely noted in society that have incredible effects on their daily lives. He shares how human behavior often keeps the world running as we know it.

I found two of McLuhan’s ideas particularly important to remember. The first was his notion of “media is the message” which had become and is still remains an important facet of media today. Later in the article this idea is simplified further when McLuhan says “What is implied in this phrase is that the medium consists of all the services evoked or provoked by any innovation.” I take this to mean that as new forms of media arise, they begin to shape the world we live in, how we see it and also how we learn from it. Every new form of media that has been created has opened up many new opportunities to do all three of these things, most importantly the latter. Despite the uses of these mew mediums we are introduced to, they allow us to learn and discover things we were never able to before. I feel people get confused in thinking that what’s important is what is being shown to them through the medium instead of the medium itself.

The second important idea was addressing the advent of books and language upon man. McLuhan says, “The whole man became fragmented man; the alphabet shattered the charmed circle of and resonating magic of the tribal world, exploding man into an agglomeration of specialized and psychically impoverished ‘individuals,’ or units, functioning in a world of linear time and Euclidean space.” What he is saying here is that literacy and the discovery of the written word opened up many opportunities for man to better himself. No longer was his mind confined to the everyday struggles of staying alive. However, the written word also divided man into an unequal world of ‘educated’ and ‘non-educated’ humans. This I feel is an important dichotomy that has a drastic effect on the history and development of humans throughout their history and even continues on today in many ways.

I discovered these ideas first-hand last year in Barry Vacker’s Media in Everyday Life class. He taught us the importance of important media factors such as memes and the hyperreal. Moreover, he taught that devices in which we receive all of these messages on, whether it’s a phone or a newspaper are just physical things. The real advent of knowledge came with the discovery of these devices and how they could be used to better our world. He noted the differences between writing a research paper when he was in school, compared to writing one now. It was astonishing how much technology (more specifically computers and the internet) has made just that very thing so much easier. I can also remember a time when freshman year for an assignment, we had to go 24 hours without using electronic media or devices. It was extremely difficult to wean ourselves from the devices we hold so close to our lives every day. But it showed how far we’ve come from the days when that was never an option.

Posted: May 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

Posted: May 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

media tech–review

Media Tech Final Essay

Posted: May 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

Intro to Media Tech has taught me a variety of new skills. Before this class, I had an extremely limited knowledge of Photoshop. Now that the course is complete, I know how to do more advanced techniques like tracing and cutting objects from their original picture and placing them in a new background. Also, I was able to play around with the shapes to figure out the best ways to create a webpage design. Placing words within the picture was also new to me.

Using Audacity was also a new skill I learned. I now know how to record an original soundtrack and upload it so that it may be used in other forms of media like adding it to a video project. I learned how to layer sound and mix audio levels so that they all fit within the same file neatly.

Final Cut Pro was a completely new world to me. I had never used it before so everything I learned was new. I can now place pictures or videos within the track and place effects on them like zooming, panning and fading in and out. I also learned how to upload my video project to Vimeo and sites like it to share with the world. I am able to create a slide show and add the music to it as well.

In lecture, I was able to learn a great deal about the history of the technology that we use every day. I never knew that computers had such a long history dating back to difference engines. Also, the evolution of photography was a something I never learned before.

This course has taught me a lot about the production side of media. There is so much that goes into everything that we view both on TV and the Internet, not to mention the work that goes into radio production as well. Looking at a well edited YouTube video, newscast or movie won’t be the same anymore. I can understand how much hard work gets put into editing to insure the best viewing experience possible. With a better understanding of it, I will now appreciate such productions much more.

Also I know that certain focus will be put on specific audiences depending on what the content of the video is. And the content’s meaning can be altered depending on the editing. That editing can also determine what channel that media is displayed on.

I will no longer blindly turn on the TV. When I watch programs from now on, I will be paying close attention to the small details to see exactly what the creator of the program did in order to put it together.

As a consumer of media, I agree strongly with the notion that what we watch influences the world. As a future broadcaster of news, I intend to bring the world its news from a fair and balanced perspective. The information in which I broadcast should be that way so that whoever is receiving it will get the whole truth, not one that is altered.

Sound Assignment

Posted: March 27, 2011 in Uncategorized