Even the airport addresses the digital divide

OHare Airport Digital Divide

Here’s a piece of advertising in Chicago’s O’Hare airport. It’s advertising for Comcast, of course, but its focus on the digital divide reminds me how far the topic of education and digital technologies has become a mainstream discussion. I am also curious about the assertive greeting “Welcome to what’s next”.  Curious, well, because I often wonder in my own classroom…what is next? And, I don’t think there has ever been an easy answer, and certainly a blanket explanation of “bringing media and technology together” isn’t necessarily what I land on as the solution to the “digital divide”.

These advertisements on education sometimes seem evaporated of content and context. How do you bring media and technology together in the classroom? I want to know what that technology will do or what the students will learn. I’m missing the sense of actual education in an advertisement like this. Now, if you told me the students were listening to deep sea soundscapes on new, state of the art acoustic technologies that would allow human ears to perceive what songs the sea really sings, I would be like…wow, go Comcast.

I am happy people are talking about and thinking about the digital divide….I am. And, I think Comcast is right that it’s going to be important to figure out how to bring in new media to the classroom.  But, I also think that these tag lines and marketing need more substance because bridging the digital divide is not going to be a simple solution of bringing technology into the classroom. It’s going to be what kinds of learning can we create with this technology? How can we amplify our learning experiences? How do these technologies fit or change the ecosystems of knowledge making? How will classrooms change? Not sure if I have a huge point here, but just thinking that this advertisement seems like kind of a washed out statement.

Last rambling thought…this ad would have really impressed me if there was an interactive board that asked people in the airport what they would do to bridge the digital divide.  For such a new media moment heralding the future of public education, it’s kind of an old advertisement.


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