The Digital Divide: A Global Perspective
September 9, 2022
by Katherine Susman, Associate Professior Computer Science and Information Technology
I am currently completing my second-year teaching information technology at ACC after spending more than 30 years working professionally in information technology and business analysis. I joined ACC when the pandemic was at its grimmest. As educators, we all began to focus on developing strategies to effectively teach and engage students online in their educational activities.
I continue to be humbled by the resilience and the determination that many of our students possess and I work toward tapping into that as a resource as I teach. The diversity of ACC’s student body lies not only in ethnicity, culture and native languages, but also in diversity of age, experiences, and current skills. I work on tapping into that diversity as a way for students to engage with each other and learn from one another’s life experiences. I have been especially excited to see students furthering the reach of student interactions by initiating study groups by using platforms such as Discord. Teaching communication skills and innovative thinking are very key and critical skills for business and technology workers.
My students learn best through presenting and watching alternative solutions from their fellow students. I have tapped into this by doing regular code share classes. This allows students to understand that “if he/she can do this, then I can too.” Whether teaching information technology or mathematics, I have always emphasized that there are multiple ways to solve the same problem. Recognizing and identifying multiple solutions and being able to see advantages and disadvantages of various approaches taps into an important layer of analytical thinking.
My project formally recognized the gap that exists both globally and domestically with the abilities to access technology. Access to technology goes beyond the growth of router sales and the expansion of cell tower infrastructure. It is also dependent on information technology skills, access to a device to consume information, and as we all discovered in our February 2021 power outages in Texas, and access to a steady source of electricity. The Global Learning Community presentations were very relevant and brought into focus many cultural and current events that are also technology disruptors. We had the opportunity to enjoy a presentation from a Ukrainian scholar and hear first-hand about the impact of the war on him, his friends, and his family. He was able to separate the professional analysis of the invasion from the very personal experience of the war which made his presentation especially enlightening and compelling.
I strongly recommend the Global Learning Community experience to anyone who has not yet engaged in the experience. It is a wonderful way to hear about a variety of very relevant topics that can translate into improving teaching materials. It is also a great way to learn about other departments at both ACC and UT and get an opportunity to meet people in other departments outside your specific department. Everyone is very supportive and interested in the process and the presenters were outstanding.