Race and the Digital: Racial Formation and 21st Century Technologies

Overcoming the Digital Divide: Taking ELS into Account by Arturo Sotelo

Overcoming the Digital Divide: Taking ELS into account

Research Question
Implementation of Ipads in school has been successful in engaging and motivating students within the classroom. Within the English Learning Student (ELS) population, engagement with and motivation to learn the curriculum is a huge problem that exist. If this can be implemented on a large level within the US school system, can it help bridge the digital divide that exists within the Spanish dominant population?

New Media Source
The new media source that I will look at in depth is the Ipad within an academic setting.

Introduction
Access to internet is a simple problem that exists within the US, it is clear that education, and income are two factors that play a large factor in determining a population's ability to access any sort of internet connection. A technological gap in access to the internet can be seen between populations who are english dominant, and those who are mainly spanish dominant. Implementation of Ipads in school has been successful in engaging and motivating students within the classroom. Within the English Learning Student (ELS) population, engagement with and motivation to learn the curriculum is a huge problem that exist. Since this population makes up a large portion of the US population, it is important their accomodate them and ensure their academic success. If this population is ensured with a proper education it is more likely that they will be able to overcome the various social barriers that limit their access to internet. The purpose of this paper is to understand, how implementing student Ipads, on a large level within the US school system, will affect the digital divide that exist between spanish dominant, and english dominant populations within the US.

Methodology
This paper looked primarily at the Pew Center's Report from 2010 on Latinos and Digital Technology, to gain insight on the digital divide that exist between latinos, specifically ELS, and other minorities in the US. In order to understand how ELS students academic success might be affected by the implementation of ipads, this paper looked at the current academic situation through the book. This book helped illuminate the challenges ELS students face, and how the classroom resources could be used for improved academic success. Lastly, this paper looked at a studies that focused on ipad usage within the classroom. This study took place in Canada and looked at French Language Immersion programs, and how usage of Ipads facilitated the process. With these pieces of research, the paper is able to provide the reader with a basic understanding of the digital divide that exists among the spanish dominant population.

Discussion
Within the US, latinos make up a huge portion of the population. According to the US Census, there are currently 55 million latinos in the US, and it is estimated that by 2060 this population will reach upwards of 119 million. (US Census Bureau 2010). It is an undeniable fact that this population continues to make up a big part of the total US population; it is very concerning that in this age of technology, population faces barriers that prevent them to accessing internet in any form. What is even more shocking, is the difference in usage patterns that exist within the latino population, “native-born Latinos are more likely than foreign-born Latinos to be online (81% vs. 54%); to have a home internet connection (71% vs. 45%); to have a home broadband connection (60% vs. 35%); and to own a cellphone (86% vs. 70%)” (Latinos and Digital Technology, 7). This inability to access internet can be understood as the digital divide that creates a large number of problems as the world becomes more digitally connected. The digital divide that exist among latinos can have detrimental effects when it comes to political mobility, educational attainment, job availability, and even simple task like paying bills that require a digital connection.
A person's education is closely associated with the likelihood of having access to some sort of internet connection. Education seems like one of the most effective ways in bridging the digital divide. It is necessary that these students reach up to par with educational achievement levels, if they do not improve their general performance this digital divide barrier will continue to limit various aspects of their lives.It is clear that, “educational attainment is correlated with internet use. While just over four-in-ten (42%) Hispanics lacking a high school diploma are online, this share reaches 68% for Hispanics who are high school graduates. And for Hispanics with at least some college education, the share more than doubles, with 91% reporting that they go online.” (Latinos and Digital Technology, 9); continued low academic performance creates a perpetual cycle of continued lower internet usage rates. The internet usage research once again reminds us how important educational attainment is because,in terms of access, “differences still persist for those with no college experience, and those earning less than $50,000 annually”(Latinos and Digital Technology, 6). The latino population that is spanish dominant largely falls into this demographic that is has no college experience and earns less than $50,000 annually; this needs to be addressed.
According to Ricardo Valencia, ELS students face problems in engaging with the curriculum because of the language barrier; the classroom environment is not conducive to a bilingual form of learning. The author points out that language and culture are indubitably tied together; the current curriculum does not provides ELS students with the necessary cultural context to fully learn the English language or state academic curriculum. This is reflected in the continuous trends of low academic performance rates of ELS students; unfortunately the test that determine academic performance do not assess in a manner favorable for ELS students. Language proves a strong correlation in income earnings for people whose english is not proficient. Because a large portion of the latino population lives, “in homes where the father is not English fluent, the percentages of families who live under the poverty line is (30.2%) almost double that of families where the father speaks english fluently (16.3%)” (Valencia, 145), it is important to provide this population's needs are met though their basic educational needs. Poverty and this language barrier, that students must accommodate for the digital divide to be overcome.
According the study that looked at how Ipads played a role in the classroom, Ipads in general seemed serve as a great tool for engaging and personalizing the education process. More often than not, once the teachers were adequately trained and able to apply the Ipad to the curriculum it was effective in limiting the time waste on instruction, and increased the time used for repetition and practice. A major factor that limits ELS from succeeding within the US curriculum is the cultural disconnect that the english barrier creates; students are not able to engage with the material because they are preoccupied trying to understand the language. The problem can be address through using Ipads, “ the implementation of new inclusive instructional strategies supported by the use of digital technologies allowed teachers to address the needs of all students in their respective EFI classrooms” (Pellerin, 52). Since ELL students may require specialized guidance, ipads could serve to integrate these students into the curriculum and everyday classrooms. A key finding that this study highlighted was that, “ the educational system[s] keep using traditional tools, even when these tools create learning barriers or impede opportunities for students to be successful and to reach their full potential”(Pellerin, 63); this cannot benefit students especially those who have language barriers to overcome. The implementation of Ipads on a large scale could be especially effective in helping keep students focused, and engaged in material.

Conclusion
The education of students seems to create a path that increases the likelihood of an individual's access to internet in the future. As this research has made an effort to show, within the US the large digital divide limits spanish dominant populations from accessing the internet; increased successful academic achievement of ELS will play a large role in determining their future access to the internet. Ipads have been shown to increase academic engagement of students, when applied to ELS students the system barriers that they face in school can be addressed in an individualized manner. Although further research is definitely required, it is safe to support the idea that Ipads in classrooms can lead to desired outcomes such as increased academic success, increased technologic literacy, and more importantly increased access to the internet.


 

Bibliography

FFF: Hispanic Heritage Month 2015.” FFF: Hispanic Heritage Month 2015. US Census Curear, 14 Sept. 2015. Web. 28 April. 2016

Pellerin, Martine. “E-inclusion in Early French Immersion Classrooms: Using Digital Technologies to Support Inclusive Practices That Meet the Needs of All Learners”. Canadian Journal of Education / Revue canadienne de l'√©ducation36.1 (2013): 44–70. Web. 28 April. 2016

Valencia, Richard R. Chicano School Failure and Success: Past, Present, and Future. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print

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