I have a colleague whose college-aged daughter managed to type an entire research paper on her cell phone from the back seat of their family vehicle while on a road trip. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it. Yet, I think educators can do students a disservice by assuming that a cell phone in one’s pocket is all that is needed to ensure equitable access to digital resources.
Because I do not have wifi at home, I know from first-hand experience how limiting it can be to try to accomplish some academic tasks from a mobile device. While there are many things I can do with my phone, I find a lot things have to wait until I can get to work. I also run into issues with data limits and how much storage space I have available on my cell phone. I find I often have to delete a couple of apps in order to make room download a new one.
Even when we allow students to take home 1:1 devices such as Chromebooks or iPads, we cannot assume that wifi is easily accessible for the student. There may not be wifi access within safe walking distance for the student, and/or they may not have an adult available to take them somewhere to use the device.
Another related issue is that educators sometimes assume that their students being “tech savvy” means that they can apply that tech savvy to academic settings.
In a 2014 article from the New York Times, Academic Skills on Web Are Tied to Income Level, the author finds disparities based on income level, but also makes the point that in general “teachers often assumed that because adolescents seemed so comfortable with technology that they actually knew how to use it in an academic context…But we can’t confuse that kind of savviness with critical evaluative skills.”
I have found we need to be much more explicit in teaching information literacy, digital citizenship and safety/privacy issues. For a great resource on teaching these issues, check out Shannon Miller’s webinar from earlier this month.
For a thoughtful examination of student privacy issues, check out Susan Hefley’s blog post on Advocating for Student Privacy, which is one of the roles of a Future Ready Librarian.
How does your district support the library program to ensure students have access to the resources, human and physical, they need to optimize their learning? Does your program utilize digital tools to support and promote equitable access to information and resources through your library media program? What student privacy policies are currently in place in your district? Is everyone in the district current on those policies? Are there opportunities for you to provide leadership in building broader understanding and awareness of those policies? How does the librarian and the library program promote and support digital citizenship?
I’d love to hear your answers to these questions and more.
Please join in on the conversations by posting your own blog responses and by joining the Future Ready Librarians Facebook group, where a new weekly blog challenge will be posted every Wed. through May 24.
Started by Dr. Kristen Mattson, the FRL Facebook group has almost 6,000 members and growing and “seeks to support K-12 Future Ready Librarians as they support administrators, teachers, staff and students in Future Ready Schools.” You can also join in the conversation on Twitter through the hashtag #FutureReadyLibs and subscribe to/join my FutureReadyLibs Twitter list.