Thursday, July 3, 2014

Digital Divide Series: Lessons Learned Introduction to Network Information Systems Course

Living in a Democratic Society Means Being Responsible About the Digital Divide.
I learned a great deal from an introduction to network information systems course that increased my awareness about the digital divide.  I would like to share information from a one minute paper I wrote.
  • What is the biggest remaining question from this week?
The issue of the digital divide is complex.  After reading the digital divide articles and hearing a fellow teacher librarian’s question at meeting recently, “are people ditching libraries for the Internet?”, I have many questions that lead to more questions that apply to a K-12 educational environment.
A few snippets from my the paper.
  • Digital divide is impacting school libraries with unequal access to software, hardware, and instruction.
  • Information seekers taking the easy street who are unwilling to change and refuse to learn information literacy and technology skills and view these topics as unwanted or not needed, will be adversely affected in an increasingly technology and media rich society.  These types of schools are more likely to suffer the negative consequences of the digital divide. How do we handle the resisters? Even if we encourage small steps towards change how long is that feasible before that digital divide gap is wide open?
  • We need to consider that there are varying cultures of learning.  I think that our educational communities need to believe that learning is a culture.  
Network considerations...Wireless Connections...Internet Speeds
Questions from another assignment: Is WiMAX dead? It peaked in 2012.  If it is dying why do you think that is? Could it be resurrected? What are the benefits to WiMAX?
I don’t think that WiMAX is dead.  There are places outside of America where it is being resurrected by the demand for networks and are unable to access the most cutting edge technology available. The ongoing issue of the digital divide will keep WiMax as a sought after network service until our technology advances over time and transitions to the next phase when something else replaces WiMAX as a viable service.  The benefits of WiMax are working to bridge the digital divide by expanding its markets and areas covered.  For example users in Africa are having opportunities to connect with networks that might not be able to otherwise.
Compare to Wi-Fi
Compared to LTE or WiMAX, Wi-Fi is a wireless local area network (WLAN) technology that has a smaller range of 200 to 300 feet. The digital divide could be lessened with the public having increased access to high speed Wi-Fi and global Wi-Fi roaming capabilities making it convenient to connect with hotspots.  With our technology world changing so rapidly it is a challenge to meet the needs of users who want Internet access. Perhaps technology will advance where different types of networks can connect seeminglessly and services will become more streamlined.
Of the three which one seems to be the strongest option for widespread adoptability? (pick a country)
In Tanzania having access to WiMAX is an innovative way to provide adequate network service compared to modern and developed countries using LTE.  WiMAX is a strong option for Tanzania rural and small communities to have wireless networks.  Tanzania connecting to the Internet using WiMAX may help in bridging the digital divide as people in the Information Communication Technology world are working to upgrade services since Tanzania is confronting technical and nontechnical challenges to increase network access. Using WiMAX is helpful to keep up people connected until the digital divide issue is lessened.  How Tanzania approaches network planning is critical since new technology is rapidly changing making it harder for them to catch up with more advanced network users like America. So making informed decisions based on short and long term goals with the information and resources available at the time impacts allocations of money and time.  Factors to consider during this process are availability of service, infrastructure, policies, literacy rates, cost, and interest of population.  
Digital Demands...How Prepared Are Youth?
Students are entering the real world with varying skills and abilities.  This fact widens the digital divide and contributing to economic and social issues in our society.  Equipping schools with emerging technologies means that there are things to think about in the technology department such as the adoption rate, market saturation, and the digital divide (Ruane). On the personnel front then there attitudes from staff that come into play to deal with when introducing new technologies such as the stragglers and resisters mentalities. (Ruane). Another point to contemplate is location of the users.  For example what challenges may arise in rural America where acquiring hardware is half the battle.

The Have and the Have Nots. Who Has Access to Technology and Who Does Not?

How does the digital divide play out in the future? According to my instructor Ruane, “if you are not versed in area such as touch technology using a touch screen, will it have an impact on a student later in their education or career choice or earning potential? And how do we make sure that technology is an even playing field as much as we can? How will public schools organize technology matters since it plays a huge role in providing access and training? If people can't afford to have technology in their homes they rely on public places to gain access. Sometimes if too much time is spent on tech it doesn't pan out or there are situations where I am too much ahead of my users and then I miss them.  I don’t want to be too far ahead of my users with technology or it will be a challenge to get them on board.” (Ruane).

(Ruane, 2014).

Our class was assigned to create images and texts displaying our interpretations of the digital divide. My colleagues were gracious and gave me consent to post them online.

By Marisa Shank

By Julie Cwik
By Amy Walsh
By Arlene Vespa
Comments based on images above by Colleen Cochran

“In the information economy, nondistributive
social justice issues include demands for increased transparency and accountability in the use of data in the
social service and criminal justice systems, opportunities to design and produce culturally and socially sensitive
software and hardware, freedom from excessive surveillance in the workplace, and proper attention to health and
welfare issues in high-tech work.” P4

“…mismatch between the image of computers as the route to social and economic progress
and these women’s own experience of technology as exploitative, intrusive, and limiting.”

“Have nots” may include:
·         Elderly & young users w/o large amounts of exposure
·         People w/o “typical” knowledge of technology, maybe specialized to their communities?
·         People living in areas w/o infrastructure to support high speed internet access
·         People w/o $ to afford services &/or hardware in home
·         Voluntarily opt-out of digital aspects of contemporary life

“Haves” may include:
·         Users with (long term?) exposure/experience due to education or work requirements
·         People with $ to purchase services and/or hardware
·         People with an interest in technology & internet

Final Project

Our final project consisted of investigating a local public library and writing a grant proposal based on the format in the following link. It was a worthwhile experience to gather the information and write a grant outline.
Eliminate the Digital Divide Program

Next and final post on the digital divide series a letter to administration with a poem.