…we have to be cautious though with the digital divide that we don’t further disadvantage those without access to the technology outside school – a difficult nut to crack….
This brief comment got me thinking about my own experiences with students and their ability to access the Internet. In responding to Paul in the comments, I got off on a bit of a tangent:
… if lack of access in the community is a widespread enough problem, I wonder what role the school could play in providing that access on an evening/weekend basis? And perhaps not only access, but instruction as well, perhaps in an adult-learning model?
If we are going to commit to instructing not only students, but administrators and parents, too (as folks have suggested elsewhere in the edublogosphere recently), should schools commit to providing community Internet access and education, especially in communities where folks may not even own computers?
I’m not talking about an ISP in the sense of Verizon or Comcast; I mean a full-on commitment to keeping a free or minimal charge drop-in computer lab open with a small staff to assist people as needed, and maybe run adult-ed-style classes on navigation, search skills, online banking, online safety/security (e.g. avoiding phishing/email scams), etc.
So many questions come to mind as I think this through: would the existence of such a service go over well in your community? Would taxpayers find this an acceptable use of school funds? Even if schools don’t have an obligation to do so, should they step up in the name of social action and provide this service to the communities that need it most? Furthermore, could it help to combat this seemingly pervasive attitude of alarmism (and, dare I say, ignorance?) such as appears in this month’s Scholastic Administrator (please also read John Pederson’s response) [both via Christian @ think:lab]?
Do any of you have any experience with such a plan in your district/state/province/country? How successful (or unsuccessful) has it been? Could it work?