The Digital Divide in Classroom Technology Use: A Comparison of Three Schools

Matthew H. Rafalow


While concerns about the “digital divide,” or access to technology, remain relevant for many schools, we do not yet fully know how often-expensive education technologies are employed across school contexts. In particular, few studies exist that evaluate how teacher beliefs about student social class and race-ethnicity, as well as institutional perceptions of the value of new technologies, inform everyday teacher practices with such technologies. Classroom observation and interviews were conducted with 5 teachers across three elementary schools that vary by race and class. Results indicated that teachers at middle/upper class schools encouraged dynamic uses of interactive whiteboards, while in the low-income school they functioned like traditional blackboards. Findings suggest that teacher beliefs and institutional perceptions inform how technologies are used in the classroom. In particular, beliefs about the meaning of student race and social class, as well as institutional goals for implementing new technologies, inform the extent to which students are granted agency to learn with new technologies.


Education, Technology/New Media, Digital Divide, Teachers, Race, Class, Culture

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RISE - Revista Internacional de Sociología de la Educación | ISSN: 2014-3575

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