hold up, it ain’t exactly free. [ruminations on the digital divide]

“I can play the game because it’s free, but then are some other parts that it won’t let me access without payment.”

This is of course, the prevailing way in which developers are releasing their product: the freemium model. The freemium model means that there is a wide amount of access for everyone, yet for premium privileges, there is a price. We see it everywhere.   This is what storage sites like DropBox depend on. My favorite music community SoundCloud is predicated upon the same deal.  Many of the new ed-tech tools is premised upon the same strategy (famous exceptions: Khan Academy, CK-12).  In this way, it becomes awfully easy to suggest that there are SO many tools out there that are free. I would ask you to think twice about that.

Have you counted the cost of the computer/console/phone/device?

[have you considered the prerequisites of the operating system and software needed to browse Web 2.0 (Flash, HTML5 Supported Browser, etc)]

Have you counted the cost of the internet upon which many of these applications depend?

[have you considered how telecom companies structure the cost of  internet into triple play deals because internet is “just not enough”]

Have you read about the intricacies and delays around Comcast’s court-mandated Internet Essentials program that makes access to broadband SO cheap?

[do you know anyone who actually has it? Do you know the bandwidth limits they have for these connections?]

Do you know how to set up a router?


….and on….

….and on….

There’s a lot that we need to consider before we say that there are so many FREE tools out there to help students learn. There is still a ways to go before we rid ourselves of the digital divide.

BONUS: There was a controversial article in the Forbes’ blog last year that spoke to this. What was the name of it?