The introduction of microcomputers into classrooms during the 1980s was heralded by many as the dawn of a new era in American education. Proponents argued that technology had the potential to fundamentally transform the nature of teaching and learning (Papert, 1980; U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 1988). However, over time, it has become apparent that it is far easier to acquire hardware, software, and Internet access (Becker, 1991; Dividing lines, 2001) than it is to capture the potential of technology in significantly meaningful outcomes (Cuban, 2001). Likewise, educators concerned about the chronic underachievement of urban learners often fall prey to the allure of technology as a tool for reversing the historical influences of poverty, discrimination, inequity, chronic underachievement, and lack of opportunity. However, 25 years after the introduction of the computer into the classroom, many of the expectations associated with technology in education remain unrealized. In this article, we discuss new technological horizons for urban learners, and highlight issues relating to the socioeconomic trends of technology in schools. In addition, we provide specific examples of technology interventions that can be implemented to engage urban students in meaningful learning activities.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Higher Order Thinking: A complex level of thinking that entails analyzing and classifying or organizing perceived qualities or relationships, meaningfully combining concepts and principles verbally or in the production of art works or performances, and then synthesizing ideas into supportable, encompassing thoughts or generalizations that hold true for many situations.
Urban Learner: The urban learner is described as a student being an active participant in an urban educational and learning environment. The urban learner includes such racial minorities as Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and a substantial number of poor Whites ( Martin, 1975 ).
Digital Divide: The “digital divide” is the term used to describe the growing gap, or social exclusion, between those who have access to the new services of the information society, and those who do not.
Metacognition: Metacognition is the ability to evaluate one’s own comprehension and understanding of subject matter, and use that evaluation to predict how well one might perform on a task.
ICTs: Information and communication technology is the term used to describe exciting and innovative ways to provide lifelong learners with global access to information, learning and support.
Educational Technology: a complex set of integrated processes involving people, procedures, strategies, ideas, devices/tools, and organization dynamics, for analyzing learning and learning environment challenges. Based on that analysis, educational technology is then aimed at devising, implementing, evaluating, and managing solutions to those challenges and thus, helps facilitate active learning and student engagement that produces quality and effective teaching and learning.
Socioeconomics: Socioeconomics is the study of the relationship between economic activity and social life.