How the iPad Craze Can Increase the Socio-Economic Digital Divide

Child At the computer
“At the Computer” courtesy of Lars Plougmann @ Flikr.
Commonsense Media have released a new report regarding the media use and habits of children between the ages of 0 and 8 years of age. I encourage you to read it – it’s full of great findings about what media kids are viewing, as well as when, where, and why they view it (for example – lower-income families are more likely to have TVs in children’s bedroooms and to leave them on all of the time.)

But one stat that caught my eye is that while half (54%) of higher-income children have iPads at home, only 28% of lower-income children do. More and more schools are turning to Apple, (as they did in the 80’s with the mass purchasing of Apple IIs), for the iPad as the device of choice for the classroom.
And hey – that’s great. But here’s the rub.

When those kids get home, only 28% of lower-income students will have the chance to continue their learning on their personal iPads. The remaining 12% who have a different kind of tablet – one that won’t play iPad apps will not. Meanwhile, 49% of higher income students will be able to go home and have the same apps on their personal iPads as they used in school, theoretically extending the school day.

I’m not saying that schools should not use iPads. And I’m not saying that it is necessary to buy every student one (although that would be great – if they are allowed to take them home). What I am saying is that the device is one thing – the learning activities is quite another. And, when possible, consider using web-based learning activities with students in your classroom that are not tied to only one operating system. That way, the 61% of lower-income students with any Internet-enabled mobile device in the home can take advantage of it – just like the 91% of higher-income students can. And if you dochose to use iPads and educational apps from the Apple store, try to search out those that are available on operating systems other than Apple’s.

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VHS Enters the Full-Time School Market

The VHS Collaborative Logo
The VHS Collaborative
Long-time online course provider The VHS Collaborative has announced the creation of a full-time option for high school students. On their website describing the program, VHS reports that they offer nearly 200 courses covering everything from electives to advanced placement. The price point ($3500) sounds pretty sweet and will probably be attractive to traditional B and M schools – but don’t forget that the student’s ‘local school’ is responsible for all student support services (e.g. counseling, nurse, clubs, etc.) so there are added costs – plus there are lab or material charges for some courses.
That said, you can expect the VHS full-time program to provide some small competition to other full-time charter schools as districts begin approaching their charter school students and attempt to lure them back with a promise of a ‘local’ full-time online option.

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A “Stranger” Hugged Me Yesterday

I took a trip to the main office recently and met four women who I have worked with for the past 6 months, but never met in person. Two of the four hugged me when they were introduced to me. What does this mean? Were they just ‘huggers’? That person-type that just can’t help themselves but to hug everyone? Is it something about women that makes them want to hug?

I don’t think it’s any of these. I’ve met with similar exuberance from men…just without the physical contact. (I suspect in a different culture there would have been hugging involved). No. I think what I experienced was how several people – who have never met in person – can form a relationship through working and learning together at a distance.
I attended an online conference today ( at which several staff from Pittsburgh and San Jose State Universities shared the results of a study they did which measured the impact of online learning vs. in-person instruction in an inquiry-based course. They found that in many cases the online learners who were in cohorts had a very strong sense of teaching and social presence.

But this doesn’t just happen by accident. This happens when there is a considerate and planned implementation of close collaboration. When you work with – and learn from – people, you begin to forge these relationships.

How is your distance learning program decreasing the “distance” and helping people to form relationships?

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