I’ve been following the discussion in response to Karl Fisch’s NCTE – “Shifting” Toward a New Literacy” post with great interest because the focus is on Kylene Beers’ invitation to join the 2008 NCTE Conference in San Antonio with its theme of Shift Happens.
I first became familiar with Kylene Beers’ work in 2000 when I received my first NCTE middle school publication Voices from the Middle. Kylene, then the editor, opened the March issue (Vol 7, Number 3) with a message entitled Technology, Bus Rides, and the Digital Divide. Her concern eight years ago was that students at our nation’s poorer schools did not have access to the technology that would allow them to move “beyond being merely digitally literate (students who can download sound clips from the Web, insert clip art into papers, and send e-mail”), so she chose to include articles by teachers who “refuse to let wealth or gender or location or race – or even mundane things like number of computers in the school or glitches in computer lab scheduling – dictate who has access to the Information Highway.” Through this issue, I met Nancy Patterson, Gretchen Lee, Jim Burke, and Jeff Wilhelm, whose work and passions, eight years later, continue to inspire me.
In 2004, Kylene dedicated the March issue (Vol 11, Number 3) to Learning through Technology, with her Editor’s Message entitled: Equality and the Digital Divide. She shared that, four years later, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, sites with minority populations were fast acquiring more computers. She also shared her concern with Hank Beckers’s troubling findings that “teachers in low socioeconomic schools (SES) are much more likely to use computers for remediation and skill reinforcement than for gathering and analyzing information. The reverse is true in ‘other’ schools (i.e., higher SES levels).”
I mention Kylene Beers’ long-time commitment to examining digital divide issues for three reasons:
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