On­line Ac­cess

Starkville Daily News - - EDUCATION - AN­GELA FARMER

Dig­i­tal de­vices have clearly be­come the main­stream mode of in­ter­ac­tion among Amer­ica’s youth. Rather it’s to com­mu­ni­cate us­ing snapchat, text, Face­book, mes­sen­ger, or any num­ber of chan­nels to con­vey in­for­ma­tion, today’s stu­dents elect, more of­ten than not, to share their thoughts, feel­ings, and ideas vir­tu­ally. Fur­ther­more, they re­search topics, ques­tions, or sim­ply ex­plore con­tent us­ing the In­ter­net. Some have even tran­si­tioned to reg­u­larly avoid­ing tac­tile com­mu­ni­ca­tion with their de­vices and re­ly­ing, in­stead on the likes of vir­tual fa­cil­i­ta­tors like Siri or Alexa. While this ap­proach to ex­chang­ing in­for­ma­tion may have be­gun as a fad and in­tro­duced through apps, it has be­come a new way of life, un­likely to re­turn to the dig­i­tal ma­trix from where it orig­i­nated.

Today’s youth were born into this dig­i­tal world where in­for­ma­tion ac­cess is im­me­di­ate and cur­rent. They have no back­ground on which to un­der­stand an en­vi­ron­ment where notes were taken by hand, where ideas were only dis­cussed and de­bated in open fo­rums, or where con­ver­sa­tions were pri­mar­ily con­ducted us­ing a vin­tage ap­proach called eye con­tact. It is no sur­prise, there­fore, that their as­sess­ments which rank them in­di­vid­u­ally as well as their schools and states uniquely, would be newly crafted us­ing an on­line for­mat.

The eq­ui­tabil­ity chal­lenge, how­ever, may lie well within the on­line de­liv­ery mode it­self. While all stu­dents en­gaged in on­line as­sess­ments may be given sim­i­lar de­vices to ac­cess the test­ing ques­tions, they are not given his­tor­i­cal com­pa­ra­bil­ity when it comes to com­fort in us­ing such de­vices. For ex­am­ple, it is no sur­prise that stu­dents liv­ing in poverty face ad­di­tional strug­gles in aca­demic are­nas based on their lim­ited ac­cess to ex­tended vo­cab­u­lary de­vel­op­ment at a young age; to fo­cused, early in­ter­ven­tion sup­ports; to travel en­rich­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties; and to early ac­cess to the lat­est tech­no­log­i­cal tools.

Cer­tainly, when one is faced with tak­ing a high stakes ex­am­i­na­tion us­ing a com­puter in­ter­face, those for whom life was nearly for­mu­lated us­ing tech­no­log­i­cal tools are more likely to ex­pe­ri­ence a less stress­ful in­ter­ac­tion. More im­por­tantly, it is not just that chil­dren in poverty need to be given ac­cess to a se­lect group of tech­no­log­i­cal tools to even the aca­demic pro­fi­ciency plat­form. Ac­cord­ing to Columbia College Chicago’s Kath­leen Paciga, a pre­sen­ter at this year’s Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ed­u­ca­tion of Young Chil­dren in At­lanta, chil­dren need “so­cial and lin­guis­tic sup­port, to help so­lid­ify the learn­ing” ac­cessed on dig­i­tal de­vices. This type of in­ter­ac­tive di­a­log sup­port is of­ten lack­ing in en­vi­ron­ments which are less than aca­dem­i­cally fo­cused and may have deficits re­gard­ing con­sis­tent ac­cess.

Em­ploy­ing on­line in­ter­ac­tive tools and de­vices to fa­cil­i­tate learn­ing is a pow­er­ful strat­egy to en­hanc­ing stu­dent in­ter­est and un­der­stand­ing. How­ever, it is para­mount to note that these de­vices in iso­la­tion can­not al­low stu­dents to re­al­ize the nec­es­sary aca­demic gains re­quired to con­tinue to make progress. It is, in­stead, the con­sis­tent and in­ter­ac­tive in­ter­face es­tab­lished by sup­port­ive ed­u­ca­tional en­vi­ron­ments both at home and in the class­room which are key to en­sur­ing that stu­dents are com­fort­able with dig­i­tal de­vices and com­pe­tent to ap­ply their ac­cu­mu­lated knowl­edge to solve the com­plex prob­lems pre­sented.

Dr. An­gela Farmer is a life­long ed­u­ca­tor, a syn­di­cated colum­nist, and an au­thor. An As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor of Ed­u­ca­tional Lead­er­ship for Mis­sis­sippi State Univer­sity, she can be reached at as­farmer@colled.msstate.edu

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.