Where Is That Bridge Over the Digital Divide?

I made a joke the other day that there was an entire generation of people that has no idea why people are looking at their phones and raising eye brows and opening their mouths. (If you are one of them, Snap Chat has filters that change when you raise your eye brows or open your mouth.) While I said it as a joke, I started thinking about the fact that this is true. No not everyone needs to know how to Snap Chat but adults need to know what kids are doing when using phones/internet. Especially teachers.


I live on the side of a mountain in Alabama. We had snow/ice/sleet last night so spent the night at my parents’ house to avoid getting stranded (they also have more food and a generator if power goes out). While snooping in my childhood bedroom I found a note passed to me from a friend back in middle school. While I found “so was Space Jam any good, I think we are going Friday” hilarious, of course it was awesome, the rest made me stop and think. She was ranting about our Spanish teacher going on and on about something that happened 20 years ago. She said, “why would I care about something that happened that long ago, she needs to worry about today.” So this may have just sounded like typical bored middle schooler but I had just had a conversation with my mom that made this hit home.

Earlier I was telling my mom about how I was explaining to some teachers that if Google Suite makes their lives easier, then they need to remember it can help their students’ lives easier. After talking about a few more conversations like that she looked at me and said, “you have to wonder how many times a day students look at teachers and think, why can’t they get it, they are so old and behind the times” she then said, “it is like there is a language barrier without anyone to interpret for each group.” Huh. She may be right.

When I was in grad school I had to do so many projects on the digital divide and “haves” versus “have nots” when it came to technology usage. We learned that people with money used tech and those without did not. I think our digital divide has shifted. When I pause and look at education and technology, our kids get it and find ways to get/use technology. That socioeconomic divide is getting smaller everyday, but a new divide is taking over. The new digital divide is from those resistant to use technology with students and those that use it as best as they can. The ones finding ways to use it are speaking the language and meeting the needs of the students that need the technology. They get that students don’t have pencils because outside of school work, there are not uses for them. They get that since they use digital calendars for everything at their place of business, this may work for their students as well. I get the push back all the time, I don’t like having my students use Google Docs because that is not what they will use in business, they need Word. I get that, but how many of your students have computers with Word? I bet that number is drastically less than the number of students who have smart phones or tablets with a Google Doc app. We need to use what is best for them, now.

I understand, technology is hard. But if we want to reach all students, we need to try to speak their language. We need to get to their side of the divide. Maybe even make a funny video raising our eyebrows?