Study points to digital disconnect in nation’s schools

A growing number of computer-savvy students sayteachers and administrators hamper educational benefits of Internet use throughinadequate instruction, lack of access to computers and restrictive policiessuch as filtering software, according to a study released in August by the PewInternet & American Life Project.

Digital Disconnect , the termcoined by the non-profit initiative of the Pew Research Center for People andthe Press, is the “substantial disconnect” between how students use the Internetfor homework and how they use it during the school day under teacher direction.

Nearly 2,000 middle and high school students drawn from 36 differentpublic schools participated in Pew-sponsored focus groups. According to thestudy, the students said they cannot conceive of doing schoolwork withoutInternet access . To them, the Internet is a virtual textbook, library, tutor,guidance counselor and study group. Yet they are not being given manyopportunities on school grounds to take advantage of the Internet, according tothe study.

The study said schools de-emphasize Internet use by assigninguninspiring assignments, employing surveillance systems and by blockinglegitimate and educational Web sites through filteringsoftware.