Participation and the digital divide

The digital divide is “the gap between what can be afforded or cannot be afforded regarding ICTs and digital technologies” (Howell, 2012, p. 240). Impacting on participation with digital devices is socioeconomic and geographic factors (Newman, Biedrzycki & Baum, 2012), including educational qualifications; household income and availability of internet access (Anderson, 2015). Please view this short video on the digital divide in education (Ligge1, 2012): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1YLPL0KOWE

In week 4, I gained an understanding of the digital divide; however, I was aware this imbalance existed. I considered how it could impact on future accomplishments of students if unable to access ICT devices. Howell (2013) explains teachers are expected to assist in bridging this divide by ensuring students achieve a good level of digital fluency in the classroom. It is particularly challenging in schools where specialized facilities are inadequate or rural communities where access to the internet is limited. As discussed by Anderson (2015) it is important teachers recognise the digital divide that can exist in student’s home environments. Although Australia is a developed country, much poverty still exists as this 2013 Anglicare report demonstrates:

http://www.anglicarevic.org.au/news/trying-to-connect

1380560400000

                                               “Image” (Anglicare Victoria, 2013)

I now reflect on the digital divide as being not only restricted access to ICTs but also a lack of training provided to groups in the lower socioeconomic bracket of Australia. As stated by Anderson (2015), the One Child per Laptop program sustained by corporate sponsorship donates many “purpose-built, low-cost machines” to children in developing countries. Indigenous Australians trialed it with limited success due to the lack of appropriate training and scaffolding by teachers to support students. However, the benefits of access to these laptops should not be disputed. As supported by Nicholas Negroponte, many students are self-reliant and motivated to familiarise themselves through interaction with laptops (TED, 2007). In summary, the problem of the digital divide must be treated through the provision of computers, access to the internet and quality teaching for all students (Anderson, 2015).

Please view the Nicholas Negroponte video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_TKjfgjiQs

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