Bridging the Digital Divide?
by Bonnie Bracey
The Internet has ushered in the greatest period of wealth creation in history. It has transformed the way we deliver and receive information and the way we do business. It has changed education in ways we never thought of. It has been a force that was unexpected. The force that is with us , is the force of change. The place where this change makes the most difference is debated, but a child growing up without access, knowledge, or understanding of the use of technology and its importance in today's world is handicapped. School is a bridge for many. Learning places may include telecenters or community centers and libraries.Learning often takes place with a mentor or a peer who is involved in the use of technology.
Digital Divide? What is it?
Many people ignore the digital divide.. they say it is black, vs. white, and or rural vs. distant. Some say it is minority vs rich, or the US vs the rest of the world and that it will gradually filter down to those who are have an have not. Some see the technology as male with some involvement of women. Some define who is involved by age. The market will take care of it say the rich. People philosophy from their upscale pentiums, and say, let the problem solve itself. The digital divide stretches across the fault lines of society.
The digital divide is stretching over a lot of other places of divide in our society. But the technology that it represents is such a powerful force, it can make a huge difference if we understand the use of technology and use it well.The weightless goods that travel over the Internet represent knowledge and information. Many who have it are unaware of the power of what they have.
Bridging the Divide... in collaborative thinking and having teachers tell their stories. A private foundation, the Lucas Foundation has a newsletter that defines many, many ways to think about, to learn about the Digital Divide. http://www.glef.org/edutopia/newsletters/spring2000/index.html The web site has many entities that share and show ways of combating the digital divide. In fact the main web site www.glef.org, is a web site that makes us think about and learn about new ways to Live and Learn. The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF) creates media that promote a vision of learning where students are challenged and engaged, have access to interactive technologies, and are supported by inspired teachers and involved parents and communities.
Bridging the Divide, with powerful instructional models. The NCSA creates a bridge across the digital divide in that it provides powerful models that teachers can use to understand the effect that technology can have if properly used and created with the student and teacher in mind. They develop and test leading edge computer tools, tools,visualization and modeling and methodologies that are created in collaboration with members of the educational community that have shown potential for enhancing or transforming educational practice. http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/EP/html/prototypes.html
The Government bridged the Digital Divide with the E Rate, and informational projects on the digital divide. The government may see the digital divide like this...About the Digital Divide (from the Dept of Commerce)
In just about every country, a certain percentage of people has the best information technology that society has to offer. These people have the most powerful computers, the best telephone service and fastest Internet service, as well as a wealth of content and training relevent to their lives.
There is another group of people. They are the people who for one reason or another don't have access to the newest or best computers, the most reliable telephone service or the fastest or most convenient Internet services. The difference between these two groups of people is what we call the Digital Divide.
To be on the less fortunate side of the divide means that there is less opportunity to take part in our new information-based economy, in which many more jobs will be related to computers. It also means that there is less opportunity to take part in the education, training, shopping, entertainment and communications opportunities that are available on line. In general, those who are poor and live in rural areas are about 20 times more in danger of being left behind than wealthier residents of suburban areas. That conclusion is from the Falling Through the Net report published by the Commerce Department in July, 1999. You can find additional statistics from this report and information from other resources.
I think there is a mid group between those of the government and the haves. Many people have the technology but do not know how to effectively use it.
Bridging the Digital Divide with Resources for the Powerful Use of Technology
There are powerful resources for teachers online. It is not about a lesson plan for a just in time minute. These resources help teachers to understand the use of technology, have some models for its use, create a bridge from practice now to the future, link powerful ideas and models, and new ways of working.
The use of technology can change the learning landscape in the place where teachers work, but there has to be involvement , exploration, perhaps personalization, resource gathering, and understanding of the way in which technology changes teaching and learning.
This digital divide is often talked about as a chasm in the field of teaching and learning. The reason it is important for schools to not be a place across the digital divide is that for many children, the schools, libraries and community centers may be the only place where they have access to school based technology. Technology is everywhere in our society. Where it often is not , is in schools. Miracles have been created in the way in which schools have become wired , but often the wiring and the access are down a hall in a lab distant from the child who may most need to understand and accept the use of technology as a part of what society has to offer.
The Digital Divide... Access
Schools are a place where there is often technology, and a great digital divide. Some people are talking about the machine and the wires, and they do not understand that being able to cut the machine on, do email, and do a few programs is not effective technology use. For a teacher there should be time to explore, examine, extricate what there is of value, evaluate how it makes teaching and learning different and how the way in which one uses this information is important to the way in which the student , teacher , and learning communities are working in a transformational way. www.nxcrel.org has a way of bridging within the schools to create powerful uses of technology.http://www.ncrel.org/tandl/homepg.htm This site has a learning through technology homepage that provides a broad perspective about educational change and learning about technology , a planning and implementation guide.Teachers should also use the ISTE technology standards for implementation. www.iste.org.
Bridging the Digital Divide... a Global Perspective
The United Nations is concerned about the global effect of the international digital divide. The UNDP report states that we can bridge the international digital divide by focusing on Seven Goals to Bring About a Global Information Society:
- Set up telecommunications and computer networks.
- Focus on group access, not individual ownership.
- Build human skills.
- Put local views, news, and culture on the Web.
- Adapt technology to local needs and constraints.
- Devise Internet governance for diverse needs around the world.
- Find innovative ways to fund communication projects.
The internet has a way of reaching into many places in the world , so I will give national and international resources.
A World Summit for the use, demonstration, understanding of the use of technology will be held in Thessaloniki, Greece, March 23-26. information on the global efforts of this project are at www.childrens-media.org.
* Daring and Sharing to Build Tomorrow's Schools
Educational decision-makers should act quickly, boldly and share information to build a critical mass of Internet-connected schools and trained teachers and create the European schools of the future.
This was the strong consensus from the March, 2000, European Schoolnet (EUN) workshops. To help make this happen, the EUN has published "Ten Propositions" arising from the conference. Aimed at different stakeholders in education, they are closely related to key issues in ministries and to eEurope and eLearning. Throughout the next twelve months, the propositions will be used to underpin the strategic direction of the EUN's work programme and new EUN projects, in partnership with the Commission, ministries and business.