Students today are used to a multitude of information at their fingertips. Whether on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, or by "Google-ing," students are able to find the answer to their every question.
Recently I investigated Twitter, Edmodo, Google Tour Builder, and Kidscom.com. Twitter is a well-known social media site in which different people or groups of people may post updates on information or things going on at that time. Edmodo is an educational social media site that looks very similar to what Facebook does, and offers many of the same capabilities like chatting, posting, etc. Google Tour Builder is a virtual environment in which students can "tour" a specific trip that was made. Kidscom.com is a virtual environment for students to learn about food, specifically growing food.
These tools can supports students with diverse learning needs by fully immersing them in the content. In Kidscom.com, students are able to build their own avatars and grow food to feed to their "Plant Baby" and protect themselves from the "Darkness of Dumbness" all while learning different aspects of healthy eating and living. This would help diverse learners by allowing them to experience the skills instead of just hearing about it. Google Tour Builder is an excellent resource for all learners as well. As a teacher, I can go in and create a tour with pictures, videos, and other information embedded to support students' knowledge. Here is an example of a Tour that I created for my 5th graders about landforms:
Right now, students are looking to use technology and are excited about it. Incorporating it in the classroom in meaningful ways is essential. I am very interested in using Google Tour Builder, and possibly Edmodo. I will be looking into other virtual environments that support my math and science content and seem user-friendly. Teachers may have a harder time grasping how this may help students, but when given the chance to use and try it out in their own classrooms, I think they'll be supportive as well.
In my school district, the digital divide exists mostly between classes. As a Title 1 school, we teach mostly lower income families. Because of this fact we have many students without access to computers at home or to high speed connections. However, it does seem to be changing. With the mobile community expanding and smartphones the norm, students are beginning to access more information and resources to achieve what they would like to.
To help combat the inequity between classes, our school and system have looked in to providing Chromebooks for all students, similar to providing textbooks. During the school day, all students have access to the high speed wifi through the school and can benefit from it. It would be interesting to see if students will only use the Chromebooks as glorified textbooks at home because of a lack of internet capabilities.