Web 2.0 for Education Outreach to Low-Income and Minority Students

I've been asked to help facilitate an event at the end of March with educational and government representatives on the topic of using the new technologies of the Web specifically to help low-income and minority students--and in particular to open greater opportunities for higher education to them. If all goes as we're planning right now, I'll be broadcasting the event live as a part of the interview series here and for anyone with an interest in this topic.

My job for that day will be to lay out the vision and possibilities for this angle on Web 2.0, as I've told them that I don't have any particular expertise directly here, but want to be a part of helping to bring the dialog forth.

I'm interested in what ideas you, dear network members, have on this topic, and if there is anyone you think I should particularly look to for thought leadership here. I'm also interested in involving some students in the discussion.

Thank you for any help.

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Hi Joan,
Sad to say my principal was not technologically informed and as long as all was well and "quiet on the eastern front" in my classroom; I had no problem.It's easier to get forgiveness than permission! And yes, it was frustrating being the lone voice in trying to convince my colleagues how important and useful it was to integrate technology into their everyday classroom practice. Besides being a cost effective solution, technology use helps in classroom management for teachers. I had some ELL students and the computer use helped them with their communication skills. I still have a number of these computers in a storage unit on Long Island. (hint, hint)
My advice would be to start, if you can,. by obtaining donations of computers and asking your tech teacher or a tech savvy friend to set up a linux network in your classroom. I know you're one of those professiinals who are always buying supplies for your class. This is a larger(in size) not necessarily in expense, purchase.


Thank you sharing. What percentage of your students have Internet access at home? How do you assign work that requires Internet access if parents claim they cannot afford to pay for Internet service at home? Like you, I am always looking for free tools for learning and using what students already have for learning as well (iPods, cell phones, etc.).
Hi Sharon,

Half my class had access at home. I always had a crowd after school, and at lunchtime. Others went to the computer lab at those times and used the public and school libraries after school. I also used the school computer lab for big projects.


I love the contribution. First, I love the priority on parents and family. I know that in education there is often the desire to make up for what families don't provide, but I believe the parents and family are the first and foremost influence and that we need to focus on helping them at some fundamental level. Some of the most interesting and exciting ideas I've heard in the past year at different conferences and workshops involved having students prepare for and hold special events for the parents to teach them about technology.
I agree! Mario is a great resource! He interviewed me for his radio show in Baltimore on WEAA and WYPR on new technologies. He knows the tech space and has great insight on what works well with students.

Mario is always one NPR show that I never miss. I also would see him as a great asset to this movement.
Awesome. Great idea. I'm not familiar with him, so I'll look forward to an introduction.
I'm interested here too. I teach at one of the most multicultural schools in my province. Students run from having no literacy in their first language and minimal in English, to being third or fourth generation Canadians with low SES living in low income housing. The school's computer labs contain the computers we have access to, but the connections are slow, the equipment is frequently broken, and the access to the labs themselves is restricted by the need to have computer courses held in them.
At home, many of my students do not have access to technology, and what access there is is shaky. I have developed personal work-arounds for this, but I'm very interested to see and hear more system based ideas.
Also, I'm curious to see what happens with the idea of censorship, as the school boards where I am have blocked access completely to most of the free and low bandwidth options, to all social networking sites, to all chat sites, to any site that will connect to said sites, to YouTube, to Twitter, and so forth.

I strongly believe in a two prong approach to giving students access. Our low income and minority students are often very transient. They move from one family member to another or one home to another, or in some cases, no homes; low income students include migrant workers children, or students with incarcerated parents since there is a prison in our community. So often the only consistent access to computers and Internet is through community resources, like libraries. Google docs, or other web 2.0 tools certainly have the POTENTIAL to give them access to their documents, creation, "stuff" so long as the community resources also support this type of population. But I also find that in these communities, places like libraries don't have the resources to provide these resources to their community. I was awakened to this reality earlier this year and blogged about it at: http://www.infinitethinking.org/2009/01/pondering-new-years-resolut...
When I provided Google docs to my students I was working on the faulty premise that my low income students were in walking distance to Internet access in the local library (I was wrong).
Proving our low income students older working computers with open source software is more affordable and feasible in some cases. So at our school I try to promote a two prong approach (a combination of web 2.0 tools and open source tools).

OK, so in agreement on the computer side. And you've reminded me of some great discussions I've had with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach about homeless/constantly moving kids and their lack of a consistent connection with someone--and how difficulty it can be to discover their circumstances since they are often well-trained in hiding what is really going on. I'm not sure there's a good answer to this, but if there were a social networking connection that they, the students, wanted to keep up that might make it easier to keep contact with them, but it still doesn't answer *who* would be staying in contact with them...
I am always interested in sharing how technology can enhance the education of low income and minority students and their teachers. With the increase in funding for education, I think this conversation can proceed beyond talking to REAL ACTION.

There are a wide range of people I can recommend, so I will begin with one Kansan, Rich White whose work amplifying the virtual world for students and teachers shows promise for students in a variety of economic situations or geographic locations.
Yes, I agree Sue. It is unfortunate that the FCC stopped tracking this infiormation during the past few years. Infrastructure is critical, yet it often seems undervalued.

BTW, I heard on an NPR report that the FCC reports a county as having total access if ONE broadband connection is used. If you can only imagine how that skews the true data about the TRUE DIGITAL DIVIDE.

I asked my teen about her school cohort. She says half don't have any internet access at home. <20% have wireless or cable broadband and the rest have dial-up.

Our public library has broadband internet access, yet approximately 75% of the school district's students live in the country. Most students ride a bus, so they have to leave within minutes after school is out.

My parents would love to have broadband, and they could pay for the monthly service, but it is unavailable where they live. Dial-up is deplorable in today's environment. ATT says they can't get DSL services either.


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