Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Digital Divide: Impact on Education

I have been reading a lot about the digital divide recently and the ITGS (Information Technology in a Global Society) class at ISD are researching and discussing issues to do with this pervasive topic. See the ITGS Forum blog to read about some of these. For the past two years the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) has been holding conferences and workshops leading to a global understanding and agreement that will come towards bridging the digital divide. Andy Carvin the Director of the Digital Divide Network makes regular blog postings and provides interesting resources via his blog and the DDN website. The DDN online motto is 'knowledge to help everyone succeed in the digital age'.

The Digital Divide and Education
What are you: A Digital Native? or A Digital Immigrant?
Of note are the articles by Marc Prensky written in 2001. The first of these, "Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants" discusses how students have changed radically and how educational methodology is not keeping up with the demands or expectations of the new Digital Native generation. The second article, "Part II: Do They Really Think Differently" looks at the socialisation affects on the brain and examines if young people today actually think differently due to their digital upbringing. Another extensive article, based on Prensky's ideas is that by Ian Jukes from the InfoSavvy group, "Understanding Digital Kids (DKs)" (2004). Jukes examines the new digital landscape and its impact and implications for education. In order to bridge the digital divide in education Jukes suggests that teachers must learn to communicate in the native language and style of their students and change the instructional style accordingly. This includes using more multimedia-based learning objects and also providing opportunities for multi-tasking, networking and interactivity.

In relation to the digital divide, news from Bangladesh this week re Google. Now when we open Google while in Bangladesh it defaults to the Bangla version at
One click and we are into the English interface again.

What do you think are viable solutions to the digital divide? For students? For teachers? For international education? I welcome your comments to this blog.

1 comment:

Ruby Isobel Sherratt said...

All too often I hear teachers say this classic line - "Oh... my students know so much more about technology than I do" - and it is a bit of an excuse for our ignorance. We get away with it because it seems acceptable, and almost admirable, that our students should know about something in greater depth and understanding than us, their teachers.

Unfortunately, in reality, it means that we are missing out on forms of communication with them, and opportunities for more engaging ways to teach are passing us by. Do the students respect us less because we often haven't a clue what they're talking about?

Administrators and IT coordinators often discuss the possibilities of technology and learning in schools while many teachers cower away, fearful of these strange inventions invading our dusty resource boxes! It's time to face your demons teachers, don't be satisfied with being behind your students, admit that technology is here to stay and you need to learn about it. The best teachers never stop learning.