Week 2 2014 Becker (2000a)

Becker, Henry Jay. (2000). Who's Wired and Who's Not: Children's Access to and Use of Computer Technology. The Future of Children, 10(2), 44-75. Available from http://www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/journal_details/index.xml?journalid=45


The paper is important because of the shift in focus away from the school as the sole provider/supplier of access to computers to a combination of school and home and, perhaps, other sites like libraries. This blurring of access to computers between schools and other locations is now a good deal greater. Bring your own tablets has become a popular strategy.

The other interesting feature of the paper is the mapping of patterns of use. While the categories are broad they nevertheless offer useful indications about what was going on in US schools over that time period. An organisation that has sponsored recent large scale studies in the US is the MacArthur Foundation.

An ongoing interest by researchers has been in the role that teachers play in the kind, quality and general use of computers in classrooms. There is a large literature that examines the roles of teachers since the 1980's.

An important mapping that occupies a good deal of the paper is the relationship between various measures and indicators of disadvantage and computer use in the home. The patterns of access and type of use is well captured by Lipkin cited in Zakariya1 (1984, p. 29) almost thirty years ago,

them that has, gets…. if a particular race, sex or economic group occupies an inferior position in society, you only have to be able to add one and one to see that technology will compound the problem.

Another notable mention with a tentative argument of support is in the value of games for achieving some outcomes that might be regarded as educationally valuable.

On page 66 Becker makes a strong point about access to the Internet on its being insufficient to ensuring that a student is educated well for the 21st Century. It is worth thinking about this proposition in the light of the work of Sugata Mitra.