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The Digital Divide: How It Has Evolved in the 21st Century By: Kellee Hill EdD

The use of technology is never going to diminish. In fact, over the past five years, technology has evolved so rapidly that the wayside has left most communities because the available technology is antiquated by the time it is received. With most districts battling over budgets, it seems that the students’ need for technology is not a priority. So why should we care? “I mean, as long as there are computers in the class, it shouldn’t matter, right?” We should care because our students are not being offered the opportunities to develop those academic or STEM skills that will make them competitive in this global market.

In the past 20 years, the consistent push toward the introduction of STEM as a foundation of learning has been. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics has permeated the culture of learning in every classroom. However, what this looks like from one building to the next is vastly different. Some classes are attempting to offer exposure to these 21st-century skills but lack the most current technology to do so, which limits the opportunities and learning opportunities that each student can have. How has the digital divide expressed itself over the years?

1. Underprivileged communities are still trailing behind.

The generational gap that first appeared with the digital divide left the first generation several years behind in the learning curve. Therefore, there is still a considerable gap in understanding the purpose and benefits of technological capabilities to advance. There is resistance by some parents, when it comes to allowing their students to fully immerse themselves in the world of technology, due to the lack of skills or comfort in knowledge base when it comes to technology.

2. Technology skills are influential when it comes to scholarships and jobs.

Most universities are embracing a more technological driven process for recruitment, education, and dissemination of funds, which is a direct response to how most businesses have evolved to meet the needs of a robust market. Students who consistently have purposeful and meaningful interaction with technology can execute and perform in these areas.

3. Lack of presence and opportunities for underrepresented communities.

The communities that experience this lack of access and representation in the digital community also lack a consistent image. The representation that is needed to inspire students to pursue STEM education and careers are minimal. Why? Because there is a lack of overall interest or inlets into this field, based on lack of representation.

The charge educators and parents have, is to demand that equitable technological resources and opportunities are available to communities that have been historically deprived of the opportunity to experience STEM education. Continual investments in these communities from various sources is imperative. As these communities continue to fall behind in technological understanding, the country will begin to feel the repercussions of not having an adequately trained workforce and a lack of innovation to solve daily issues.

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