Growing up in the 1990s, I still remember receiving (and actually using) the AOL CDs to get hours of internet. This was a time when dial-up internet was still new, and the sounds of modems and “you’ve got mail” were the norm.
My family was not an early adopter of technology. I did not have a computer until 1996 and I still remember using a typewriter to turn in a report in 8th grade. Little did I know that 20 years later, having the internet would be an integral part of everyday life and of teaching and learning.
As a math and computer science teacher, I still make instructional decisions about projects and assignments based on whether my students have access to “basic” technology. By my rough count, I would say that at least 1/5 of my students do not have reliable high speed internet at home. While it seems that there have been a lot of great organizations that have put computers in the hands of students, there must be an effort to help with the internet that makes them useful. Rick Paulus from Pacific Standard talks about this in his article, How Non-Profits Help Close the Digital Divide:
“I would argue there are not enough cooks,” he says. “It’s so much work to do: There are 64 million people who are not connected to the Internet. We need more groups in more places doing this work. We can definitely always use more voices. Come one, come all.”
During a political cycle where many politicians have spoken about the divide between the rich and poor, there needs to be a serious debate about how to equip all students for 21st century jobs and skills by providing affordable high-speed internet to everyone.