For my semester-long project, I want to focus on the effect of the use of digital media in schools on socioeconomically disadvantaged children. As the use of digital media has grown exponentially in the past ten years, it has moved into almost all realms of our lives, including into the classroom. Teachers plan their lessons around digital visual aids, using projectors or “Smart Boards” to present material to students. Students work throughout the day on computers, some schools supplying their students with personal computers, and essentially every class has assignments that involve using digital media in one way or another outside of class. While these advances can be incredibly beneficial to students and open up countless opportunities for learning, it is incredibly important to acknowledge the ways that they can widen the learning gap between poor and minority students and their more privileged peers. There is unequal access to digital media both in individual students’ homes and within school systems. A child who goes to a resource-rich school that uses digital media technologies in their lesson plans may struggle academically because they do not have access to these types of resources outside of school, and because they were not raised with them, do not have the same level of media literacy as their peers. On the other hand, these inequalities can be seen on a school-wide level, as a school system in an economically disadvantaged area may not have the funding or resources to acquire technologies like Smart Boards or personal computers. Their students are then put at a disadvantage moving into job and college applications in a modern because they are less able to compete with other students who have greater access to and understanding of digital media.
As someone who hopes to become an educator in the future, I am very personally invested in this topic. Coming from a school whose population was majority economically disadvantaged or minority students, and that saw enormous iniquity in their success, these issues were very present in my own education. It is essential that we understand the implications of media in schools. Every child deserves an equal education, and until we address issues of inequality in the use of digital media, we cannot begin to level the playing field for all students.