Chief Executives of Netflix and CommonSenseMedia Comment On the Digital Divide

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This New York Times piece Will the Digital Divide Close by Itself? From the Google’s Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age provides a look at and arguments about the digital divide from two different perspectives.

From Jim Steyer, chief executive of CommonSense Media and co-sponsor of the event

“every kid needs to be digitally literate by the 8th grade” and called for a major public education campaign to make that happen. He argued that technology and learning are synonymous and that schools, parents, and kids must get up to speed in the next five years.

On the other hand:

Reed Hastings, the founder and chief executive of Netflix, contradicted him directly, saying it would take well more than five years to bridge the divide.

Mr. Hastings, an avid education philanthropist and proponent of school reforms, argued that at the advent of any new technology — television, cars, even rockets — people get riled up and wring their hands over a growing gap between the haves and have-nots.

He said that gaps narrow naturally as the market evolves and prices drop, enabling more people to bring new technology into the home and schools.

Most interestingly:

“We need to shift our expectations,” Mr. Hastings said. “This is a natural part of the evolution of technology.”

If I understand this correctly he is saying that the digital divide is part of an evolutionary process where technology and access to technology will be ubiquitous. I’m not sure I make the connection.

Most importantly:

Failed school reform might point to the need for more efforts outside of the classroom.

This is where libraries need to step in. We need to help students close the digital divide because what that means, what were talking about is the same thing as transliteracy. Becoming transliterate closes the digital divide. If schools can’t or wont, libraries need to step forward. We’ve done it for years with literacy, we need to do it now with transliteracy.

Originally blogged at Commentary On the Digital Divide from the Chief Executives of Netflix & CommonSenseMedia | Librarian by Day.

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