What is the digital divide?
Digital divide is the gap between groups or regions that have access to current technology and information and those who have minimal access. For example, Internet, mobile phones, computers/laptops or television. Students expect that their schooling, like their non-schooling part of their lives, will be rich in digital technologies (Howell, 2012, p. 59). Students are known as being digitally expectant , which is known as the positive engagement with the digital world and an eagerness to become a fully participating member of the knowledge-based society (Howell, 2012, p. 59).
Howell (2012), discusses the six drivers of digital expectancy and how they express their expectancies:
- Wider community (p. 60)
These six drivers have an interest in the outcomes of future students, whether they be students themselves eager to become digitally fluent or an employer seeking a digitally fluent employee.
The number of households with access to the internet at home increased, reaching 7.7 million in 2014–15, representing 86% of all households (up from 83% in 2012–13) (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016).
Lower socio-economic households do not have the same access to technologies. Schools are increasingly asked to bridge the digital divide between what parents can afford and what they would like their children to experience or be fluent in (Howell, 2012, p. 55). Mobile technologies such as satellite connections, laptops and mobile phones can play a role in bridging the digital divide by providing access and resources to areas where Internet is not minimally accessible and providing devices to less fortunate countries with families that are unable to afford educational devices.
How are philanthropic organisations trying to help?
Philanthropic organisations such as Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop per Child (OLPC) aim to provide each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop. These laptops have designed hardware, content and software for collaborative, joyful, and self-empowered learning. With access to this type of tool, children are engaged in their own education, and learn, share, and create together. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future (OLPC, n.d.).
The focus for teachers, is to find innovative ways to motivate students to become engaged learners through the use of digital technology in the classroom.
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