Digital Divide: Computers and Our Children's Future
||Author: David B. Bolt, Ray A. K. Crawford|
List Price: $25.00
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Publisher: TV Books Inc (04 April, 2000)
Sales Rank: 205,185
Average Customer Rating: 3 out of 5
Customer ReviewsRating: 3 out of 5
Digital divide: a global issue
The term of Digital divide is originally emphasized by the TV series which were first developed for PBS in 1997 by David Bolt, a documentary film producer, who is also one of the author of this book. Three years later when the book of Digital divide came after the TV series, the term is already familiar by folks and further is discussed academically.
Did authors bring readers more fresh air for this hot term?
In this book, the problem of Digital divide is defined as that digital technology (computers and the Internet) is playing a role in widening social gaps throughout our society, particularly among young people. As mentioned in the beginning of this book, digital technology is the issues of access and content, the aspects of quantitative and qualitative. This book tries to examine the gaps digital technology brings up throughout American society in terms of four components: education, employment, race, and gender, which come into four sections of this book.
Authors first examine the three educational essences of the digital divide in this information age: access to technology is not equally available to all students, is not handled equally by all educators, and is not equally useful to everyone in education. In detail, educational gaps may be leaded by students' social-economic background; educator's perspectives ranging from the technophilic to the technophobic; improper allocation of funds for computer-related technology, the difference between adult assumption and child's internal motivation of using computer, and etc.
Digital technology also changes the nature of employment. Living in the information age, your career prospects will be worrisome if you are not one of the digiteriati (P53). Although I think authors exacerbate the importance of accessing to technology, the necessary of education is emphasized again in this chapter, because education and employment have been intimately entwined more than ever. Meanwhile, to success in the new economy, learning is not only a means to an end, but an end itself.
The gender gap is more influence by gender stereotypes such as women may be at a technological disadvantage, which also lead to other gender inequities in employment opportunities. However, statement that women "run a greater risk of being shut out of the digital future" is over-exaggerated.
The race divide is confirmed by many statistic studies. In general, African-American and Latino have less computers and Internet access than European-American. The reasons are not only lack of content online that is of interest to African-American and Latino, but also historical experience.
This book also provides different approaches to the solutions. Authors highlight the importance of organizations like Plugged In, an East Palo Alto, Calif., to offer Internet-based program, computer access and training for bridging the gaps. Overall, authors concluded in last chapter that two-sided agreement is required to cross those gaps: from the educational establishment, the government, and corporate; and from individuals, who take responsibility for motivating and apply themselves to get an education.
This book was written under the background of American culture, economy and policies. Digital Divide, however, is not only a domestic issue but also an international one. Digital gaps in education, employment, race and gender already become worldwide issues. Educational divide is widen between developed countries and developing countries, between cities and rural areas, and between rich and poor. Worldwide employment is reshuffled by working at any corner of this world, race and gender gaps are emphasized by educational, social, economic and political issues.
For example, in China, statistics shows that 38% of urban Chinese have telephones, and only 12.5% of rural Chinese can access telephone, the gap of Internet access is much wider. The latest Semiannual Survey Report on the Development of China's Internet released by CNNIC on July 2001 indicated that the 61.3 % of Internet users are male and 38.7% of them female, 37.5% of internet users are high school education or under, and 62.5% of them have college education or above.
Apparently, the solutions which work in this book cannot simply be transplanted to the other environments. Under the worldwide perspective, digital divide become a very complex problem which manifests in different ways in different social background, the solutions must be based on an understanding of local needs and conditions, and integrating technology into society in an effective and sustainable way.
This book does bring readers to think of some issues which are really valuable to our society. However, authors did not go further beneath the surface of those issues, which makes this book more like a collection of information gathered from TV series other than a work generated from thinking.
Rating: 1 out of 5
The topic of the digital divide is a vastly important one today but the authors of this book get bogged down in apparently slavishly following their television program that the book is based on and neglect to address the broader social implications. These pages read like sound bytes. Surprisingly short in length, poorly written, littered with empty buzzwords, the text focuses, for instance, on the difficult bureaucratic problems bringing the Internet to school systems, but amazingly seems to overlook the joys and encouragement that many teachers and parents have experienced when kids are awakened to the wonderful uses of the computer. To harp on the lack of training of school teachers in this field is not what I was looking for in this book. I hope a competent, exciting author tackles this difficult subject soon in a broader, more evenhanded way.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Digital Divide delivers
Digital Divide presents statistics and additional information which verify many of our own subjective observations of students with varied access to computer technology and trained teachers. In spite of reports that most schools are now connected to the Internet, many public school students do not have adequate time to explore and appropriately evaluate information resources on the Internet. Most public schools are doing the best they can with the resources they have to provide equity to all students; additional funding from public and private sources provides needed assistance. Digital Divide presents substantial evidence that ALL students need access to current technology and Internet connectivity, as well as to up-to-date teachers who have on-going technology training. We will use the information it provides to enhance our technology training and use efforts.
· Disconnected: Haves and Have-Nots in the Information Age
· The Digital Divide: Facing a Crisis or Creating a Myth? (MIT Press Sourcebooks)