Skip to the main content
Will Free Benefit the Rich? How Free and Open Education Might Widen Digital Divides

Will Free Benefit the Rich? How Free and Open Education Might Widen Digital Divides

Justin Reich, Berkman Center Fellow


Tuesday, Janary 17, 12:30 pm
Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, Second Floor

The explosion of open education content resources and freely available collaboration and media production platforms represents one of the most exciting emerging trends in education. These tools create unprecedented opportunities for teachers to design and personalize curriculum and to give students opportunities to collaborate, publish, and take responsibility for their own learning.  Many education technology and open education advocates hope that the widespread availability of free resources and platforms will disproportionately benefit disadvantaged students, by making technology resources broadly available that were once only available to affluent students. It is possible, however, that affluent schools and students have a greater capacity to take up new innovations, even free ones, and so new tools and resources that appear in the ecology of education will widen rather than ameliorate digital divides. In this presentation, we will examine evidence for both the "tech as equalizer" and "tech as accelerator of digital divides" hypotheses, and we will examine technology innovations and interventions that specifically target learners with the most needs. A lively discussion will follow to consider how educators, technologists, and policymakers can address issues of educational digital inequalities in their work. An introduction to these issues can be found in this video op-ed.

About Justin

I’m a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Fellow at the Berkman Center for the Internet and Society. I’m the project manager for the Distributed Collaborative Learning Community, a Hewlett Foundation funded initiative to study issues of excellence, equity and analytics in the use of social technologies in K-12 settings.

I’m also the co-director of EdTechTeacher, a social venture that provides professional learning services to schools and teachers. Our mission is to help educators leverage technology to create student-centered, inquiry-based learning environments. We also publish the Best of History Web Sites and Teaching History with Technology.

Fundamentally, I’m motivated by the belief that young people are tremendously capable, and we need to develop educational systems that tap their energy, creativity, drive and talent.

Personally, I’m a husband and father and an avid adventurer and traveler. I have a long association with Camp Chewonki.


Download media from this event here.

Past Event
Jan 17, 2012
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM