Digital Inequality

Here is a link to an interesting – though not particularly surprising – study on the importance of hands-on computer usage on digital self-efficacy and positive attitudes to STEM learning.

It states that we as teachers need to go beyond modelling behaviour through our increased use of ICT in the classroom, and effect change by providing more opportunities for students to use the technology themselves.

Those of us who have been teaching young people online have come to realise that confidence in using technology for social use does not necessarily translate into wider competency in ICT. Those of us who have taught ICT previously were already aware of this at a certain level. The declaration “I know how to use Word” doesn’t necessarily signal competency to a professional standard. And so we shouldn’t assume that hours spent texting and surfing social media translates directly to digital self-efficacy.

The four distinct access gaps highlighted in section 2.1 of the report are important considerations, with perhaps the most concerning being the lack of any access to ICT itself. Digital poverty is a very real problem that disproportionately affects those from deprived backgrounds, with its negative effect on possible STEM careers a definite inference from the study.

The college I work at has been excellent during this epidemic in identifying learners who need hardware to be able to access learning from home, as well as providing additional support for those who have struggled with its use.

We must continue to avoid making assumptions about young people’s competence with, and access to, ICT in order to provide students with the best chance of success in this increasingly digital world.

Today is ‘World Braille Day’

Louis Braille was born on this day in 1809. His invention is a writing system that allows blind and partially-sighted people to communicate, using patterns of raised dots that can be identified as letters by touch.

There are a number of opportunities to raise awareness of Braille in the maths classroom:

  • There are a limited number of configurations of dots in a Braille cell. Can you work out how many?
  • Can you describe the layout of dots in a Braille cell in words? (Promotes use of language such as ‘parallel’, ‘rows’ and ‘columns’.)
  • Which letter in the Braille alphabet has the most lines of symmetry?

You can find out more about Braille and its usage here:

https://www.afb.org/blindness-and-low-vision/braille/what-braille

And here is a very engaging maths activity that use Braille to encourage mathematical thinking:

https://www.stem.org.uk/resources/elibrary/resource/32312/braille