​Report Suggests Technology Broadens Achievement Gap

SKILLS, NOT JUST TOOLS: Educational technology exacerbates the learning divide between high and low-income students, reports Annie Murphy Paul at Slate. “Not only are affluent kids more likely to know how to Google; they’re more likely to know what to Google for,” she writes.

A study by Susan B. Neuman, professor in educational studies at University of Michigan, and Donna C. Celano, assistant professor of communication at LaSalle University measured the effect of technology on “concentrated affluence” and “concentrated poverty” by studying how kids used computers in two Philadelphia public libraries. Students in Kensington, a low-income neighborhood of Philadelphia, spent more computer time playing games, while their counterparts in the neighboring, affluent Chestnut Hill, accompanied by parents or grandparents, used the devices for educational games or homework research.

The dispiriting results suggest a digital Matthew Effect: when given equal means, high and low-income kids use technology towards different ends. The benefits of educational technology rely on structure and guidance, rather than the tools alone.

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