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Digital DivisionsHow Schools Create Inequality in the Tech Era$
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Matthew H. Rafalow

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226726557

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226726724.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 24 July 2021

Similar Technologies, Different Schools

Similar Technologies, Different Schools

(p.22) 1 Similar Technologies, Different Schools
Digital Divisions

Matthew H. Rafalow

University of Chicago Press

This chapter provides the first empirical window into the cases of this project: César Chávez Middle School, Sheldon Junior High, and Heathcliff Academy. Although they are different in terms of student demographic, each has closed digital divides at the school-level by providing extensive high-quality digital technologies to students and teachers. Despite these similarities in technology access, school members envision their uses for learning quite differently. This is quite contrary to notions of technological determinism, or the idea that technologies in and of themselves have effects on their users by their mere presence. Teachers at Heathcliff Academy, the school serving mostly wealthy, White children, saw digital technologies as “portals” into young people’s lives, encouraging uses of technology that encourage online communication and sharing between teachers, parents, and students in and outside of school. Teachers at Sheldon, the school serving mostly middle class, Asian-American students, saw digital technologies as tools for surveillance and “traditional” forms of schooling, like quizzes and tests. Teachers at Chávez, the school serving mostly working class, Latinx students, envisioned digital technologies as important to teach “basic skills,” like keyboarding or computer programming, that would help them get a working class job in this digital era job market.

Keywords:   technological determinism, digital divide, education technology, race, social class, racism, classism

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