The dreaded group project. Let me start by saying that as a teacher I have long been a fan of group projects. Bringing that collaborative learning into a larger hands on project that involved many skills was always a plus in my mind. This was my first student group project that I have done in 25 years.
We were tasked with choosing a state (Idaho) and then researching 6 principles that could help to bridge the digital divide. We were to rank these 6 ideas and then come up with a few new ones as well. Google docs to the rescue once again.
The group dynamic started out slow but then rapidly grew to be a great collaborative effort on a really cool outcome. I “met” some great folks in our group and everyone stepped up to the challenge. For me personally, the multimedia or technology is not really an issue. We kicked around using other presentation platforms besides Prezi, looking into Google slides, Haiku Deck and emaze.
As the research was going on (I have to say I know a heck of a lot more about the digital divide and specifics to Idaho now), we started posting information in our Google Doc, ranking things using Google Forms and also Poll and Match. I ended up reading more and more articles and even downloaded the Idaho Public Library Stats and doing some statistical analysis on it. Along with a shared Evernote Notebook (did I tell you that I love Evernote…) on the Digital Divide, I read over 10-15 hours worth of articles.
A few great things that I learned besides the typical research is the way that cell phones are bridging the gap a little, the use of wi-fi on school buses and amazing number of options that are out there for low-income (think free lunch program) folks have for internet access. Lastly, I thought the Open E Books project was just really, really cool.
I hope to use a variation of this project in my Ed-Tech class where I will my students do a project based on the state of Montana. I do think that all teachers at least need to be aware of the problem and some of the options that are being put forth to address it.
Moving forward, I do think that this was a good project. Some ideas for the future would be to change some of the basic 6 principles that were put forth. I think that within the past couple of years, many of these ideas have changed and are no longer relevant options. New better options (especially the adoption of cell phones across all income levels and the lower costs of Chromebooks) as well as more options for internet access – like hotspots, school buses and even old phone booths, change how we should approach this subject.
You can view our final Prezi and learn for yourself some basic information on the digital divide in Idaho. – Dan