I TA’d for the first time last spring, my last semester in my masters program. It was the first time I had ever taught and I quickly learned that leading a discussion section and getting freshman interested in World History was challenging. I came away from the semester realizing, what may be obvious to those more experienced teachers, that teaching history to undergrads from a variety of majors is more difficult that it appears. I think a large part of the challenge with my class was dealing with English Language Learners. It took me about three-quarters of the semester to realize that it wasn’t that the students weren’t reading, it was that they had trouble reading documents written in the ancient world. Many of them didn’t bring this to my attention, but as the semester progressed I began to realize that they were having trouble reading and understanding documents from Ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia so discussing them became even more difficult.
As I was reading this weeks readings, I was thinking about both the benefit of technology in the classroom, but also the «digital divide,” which I think has been mentioned in class but not discussed a whole lot. I think its easy to assume that in the twenty-first century most undergrads interact with social media daily, but I think that overlooks a portion of the student population that comes from disadvantaged backgrounds. While I truly believe that the internet can be a democratizing frontier, it is limited to those who have access to it and those that have the skills to utilize it. I love the idea of integrating digital projects into the classroom, but I think its easy to assume that every student knows how to use a computer when some have difficulty with even the most basic functions. However, while I think its something that needs to be kept in mind when using technology in the classroom, I think there are huge benefits to utilizing this technology for students–both in the classroom and in real life.