CS Teacher Series—The Digital Divide by Bernardo Juarez

| Bernardo Juarez

#CSTeacherSeries—The Digital Divide by Bernardo Juarez

Have you had a chance to read the reviews on “The Imitation Game”, the new movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the pioneering British mathematician who cracked Nazi Germany’s Enigma code and helped win World War II? It’s a marvelous story about science and humanity, and about a genius who aligns his incredible intellectual talent with solving the most important problems of his era. While the rest of the team tinkered on paper with the voluminous equations, Turing sought the planning and resources to develop his own electrically-powered computation machine that could calculate the millions of permutations faster than one man or a team could on paper. Known as the father of modern Computer Science, Alan Turing demonstrates the initiative that Bernardo Juarez, Computer Science Department Chair at Lakeview High School, outlines in his following comments. Take it from Bernardo—as a Computer Science Teacher at Lake View High School, he brings the energy and vision of Alan Turing every day to his students.

—Shelley Stern Grach

The digital divide exists, except not how you think.

A few years back, the digital divide was the term used to describe the division between those individuals with access to technology and the internet versus those without. Individuals proposed that the solution was simple: provide access to technology that would allow people to experience and benefit from the Internet. This solution would afford everyone a better or more equal life because of the resources that would be made available to them via the Internet.

In reality, the technology (computers and the internet) simply expanded upon people’s communication skills. Computers and the internet contributed three main changes to our society:

  • Another way of communicating
  • It provided multiple sources and forms of data
  • Altered the speed of communication.

Computer Science created technology that disrupted the way communication had been performed. Those who saw this disruption named this the Digital Divide.

With today’s abundance of mobile phones, tablets, etc, I believe a large part of that disruption that caused the first digital divide has been overcome. Today, the divide still exists, but people are just starting to realize that it exists in a different form. Rather than being divided based on access versus no access to technology and the internet, the digital divide is based on the ability or inability to communicate or create. Tomorrow’s headlines will read about the Digital Divide 2.0 highlighting how certain people are users of computer technology versus creators of computer technology.

The creations I suggest are not graphics or videos, spreadsheets or memes. I am referring to computer systems, software and algorithms. Learning Computer Science will allow people the knowledge they need to be creators of computer based solutions, not just consumers. This will allow them the ability to communicate with their society via their creations, a distinct advantage and skill in this world that is immersed in computer technology. Those individuals in possession of computer science skills and knowledge will be similar to having knowledge and access to the internet at the time it was first emerging.

Bernardo Juarez is the Computer Science Department Chair at Lake View High School.

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