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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Yes, Will and I have talked about this at length--as well as Wendy Richardson, Will's wife, who I think has an interest in this as well. You've definitely touched on a hot-button issue for me and that the need for universal Internet access. It's got my brain really going today. Pretty soon, though, I have to start focusing on my wife for Valentine's Day or I'm going to be in big trouble!
Yo...think this is a great thought! Have had a good response using e-learning with some 'disadvantaged' groups...would like to do more...keep me in the loop!
Hi, When everything is free, it can't be about money anymore.

With Web 2.0 tools and applications access to information, education, innovation and creativity are now blocked by barriers that are no longer economic. Many if not all the tools are free, great quality and easy to use. Imagine a world with high literacy rates, with students engaged in learning and education. The best part is the equipment to access all the wonderful web tools is also going down in price. I recently purchased a Netbook - at a cost of 1/2 the price of a laptop, I'd love to get a set for my classroom,or a few portable sets for my school but am running into a few non economic barriers. This is just one low cost way to give teachers and students access to the technology, leaving the traditional labs with all "fat" computers for programing classes. The barriers are more about board security fears, and system policies- having students download stuff, attach devices or use them inappropriately. With Netbooks all that's needed is access to the Internet, using things like Google reader, google docs, wikis, blogs etc everything can be created and stored online, lessons, student work, test, exams, textbooks, presentations, Teachers in classroom 2.0 have already proven that!

In Ontario we don't have the computer/or laptop for every student program and in my school we (just this year) got a laptop for every teacher. I'm interested in this discussion and hope to gain some ideas in how to overcome the non- economic barriers in my school/ board.
Hi Steve. I think this is a fantastic topic, and one that is definitely close to my heart. For the past 5-years I've been working as an educational consultant in NYC, specifically working in schools all across the city to help teachers embed technology infused units of study into their classroom. I have been in a fortunate position to support learning communities on their quest to transform themselves into 21st learning communities. This is an extremely challenging process in a system fraught with massive budget cuts, lack of resources and over worked teachers. However, the massive explosion of Web 2.0 technologies has been a huge phenomenon in widening the gap between the skills students acquire in school and those that are needed to compete and communicate in our global economy. I would be happy to discuss the approach I, along with the team of consultants I work with, approach flexible professional development in the largest urban school district in the country.
I am also very interested in this topic living in rural Maine we face some of the same issues. What we have found to be the two most educationally beneficial goals are the expansion of cultural borders and the availability of challenging coursework through web 2.0 tools. The challenges are stable connectivity and finding sound coursework / collaborators.

I echo the points made by those already having posted. Using successful projects (Flat Classroom, Edu20, BECTA, etc.) as models for developing robust systems would be a good start. This is a conversation that I will be following closely.
I would love to help. I only use free software and am currently involved with giving free online courses on Wikieducator (asynchronous) and WiZiQ (synchronous). I have been teaching blended and full at the K-12 level for a number of years.

Warm wishes,

I'd like to participate and add another dimension to the use of web 2.0 to the discussion.

My focus would be to engage business, government and other stakeholders in learning more about the gaps between rich and poor, using maps that I create and host at http://mappingforjustice.blogspot.com. In such a discussion we'd try to help people focus on all of the high poverty areas of big cities, so that our discussion could lead to strategies that give poor kids more access to all of the great ideas for 2.0 learning, and career development, that are not as available to them as they are to other kids.

Furthermore, my focus would be on ways that student learning-service projects could enlist them as mobilizers who help reach out to the adult community, or parents, relatives, business and philanthropy, media, etc. so that we use web 2.0 to build the public will power, and financing, to support an equalizing of learning opportunities in poor communities, and that we sustain this commitment for the 12 to 20 years that it takes for a youth to go from pre school through high school without dropping out, loosing interest, or failing to get the skills needed for a 21st century job.

I'm sure others are struggling with this "how to make it happen" issue and hopefully they would want to pitch in on this with their own ideas.
OK, thanks for beating the drum again. I love the student learning-service projects and think that this is a key component here. I want to really drill down on this. Let's do a show specifically on this. Who else could we involve?
Glad to help in any way we can. I teach a course for middle schoolers entitled Integration of Web 2.0. The students don't call it a class, they refer to it as a "happening" because something new is happening all the time there. We use as many tools as we can find -- primarily Voice Thread and wikis, to share and present ideas, collaborate, and discsuss Web 2.0 features and offerings. Then we work together to find ways to apply the tools to the core subjects of math, language arts, science, and social studies. Most of my students are from low-income families and many are either first or second generation immigrants.
That sounds interesting Robert - I'd like to know more about your Middle school web2.0 'happening' program. Do you have more info online anywhere? I may want to steal some of your ideas to try at my school in New Zealand.
Yes, I too would like to know more. Especially since one theme I've been hearing from my middle school friends is that middle schools are at the epicenter of the dropout dilemma.
The one major challenge I face centers around access. I teach at a low-income school with over 80% of the population being minority student in Arizona (one of THE lowest education funding states in the U.S.). I have managed to implement various online activities, but constantly face the lack of resources for students. Although there is a computer lab with 50 computers, the computers are expected to service 1700+ students and over 80 teachers. Our math teacher and ELL teachers have SMARTBoards in their classrooms while the rest of the campus is left to struggle to provide access to the world with an overhead and whiteboard/chalkboard. It's great that students are provided access at an elementary ed level, but what about secondary. My students live for the access and interaction with a global exposure in their subjects, but we cannot provide it because of a lack of resources. Before I can even try to implement Web 2.0 tools in the classroom, students need to be provided access. How can we expect our students to be successful in an ever-growing technologically advanced global society with only an elementary understanding of the access and resources? Yet this is what we are doing. The lower-income minority students are the last to receive resources - especially at the secondary level, and therefore tend to be the last ones to receive the opportunity to not just succeed but excel in the the expanding global economy. Please keep this aspect in mind as you interact with the representatives.

One key element is resources and access to technology at the secondary levels.


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