Henry Jenkins: Ensuring Technological Access Will Solve the Digital Divide (A Misconception)
10.18.06 | We’ve wired the classroom—now what? We must also struggle to overcome the Participation Gap. What you can do with ten minutes of access to an out-dated machine in a public library with mandatory filtering software and with no opportunities for storage or transmission pales by comparison with what you can do from a computer in your home which enjoys unfettered access, high bandwidth and continuous connectivity. Schools rob the most technically-advanced youth of their best techniques for learning while those with limited outside access struggle to keep up with their peers.
Historically, youth who had access to books or classical recordings in their homes, developed, almost without conscious consideration, skills valued in school. New media experiences may be playing a similar role: shaping skills and knowledge that determine how these students are perceived by teachers and peers.
Bill Ivey and Steven J. Tepper have described the long term consequences of this participation gap: “Technology and economic change are conspiring to create a new cultural elite—and a new cultural underclass… Can America prosper if its citizens experience such different and unequal cultural lives?”
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