Penuel, W. R., Michalchik, V. Kim, D., & Shear, L. (2001). The Organization of Learning in Community Technology Centers: Learning with Technology in Six Communities. Menlo Park: SRI International.
The gap in educational outcomes between low-income and middle-income students and between white and nonwhite students in America is receiving renewed attention among our nation’s educators and policy-makers. There have been numerous calls from policy-makers across party lines for educational reforms aimed at boosting academic achievement for all students in K-12 education and at providing lifelong educational opportunities to increase the literacy and job skills of adults. In the past, we have looked primarily to classroom teachers and schools to effect reforms, but responsibility for improving educational opportunity for the least advantaged sectors of our population extends, in the minds of many, beyond the classroom. Families, faith-based groups, charities, and community organizations each have an important role to play in addressing educational inequalities in our country and in reshaping educational institutions for the future.
The growing gap in achievement between low- and middle-income students in the past decade and a widening opportunity gap in the workforce have coincided with the broad social and economic changes resulting from the development of new information technologies (see Castells, 2000). In response to these changes, there has been a growing movement to establish community technology centers, community-based organizations that work to enhance learning opportunities for low-income Americans through the use of computers and other technological tools. Depending on their focus, community technology centers help participants build any of a number of important academic and life skills. Table 1 shows the range of educational program goals that are typical of community technology centers across the United States.