Participation and the Digital Divide.

A Nearpod presentation on “Participation and the Digital Divide”.

The following is the script for the above Nearpod presentation.

 

Today, I will be illustrating what ‘Participation and the Digital Divide’ is and what it means here in Australia, and specifically, how it effects the education of young learners.

When you think about the digital divide, what does it mean to you? To me, the digital divide refers to the ever increasing gap between the percentage of the population that has ready access to technological devices and online services and the percentage of the population that does not.

According to Howell (2012), currently 1 in 5 Australians are not accessing the internet. ABC news reporter Prue Bentley (2014), believes that this is partly because of the lack of affordable broadband.

How are these people affected by their non-participation in the digital world? What if these people are children? What do we, as educators, need to understand about the possible effects that the digital divide could have on young learner?

 

Educators need to be aware in this day and age, that there is a digital divide in Australia and that it may, in fact, have a substantial effect on their students.

If students do not have ready access to technology in their home life, this could have a domino effect and implicate their:

  • digital fluency
  • confidence in using technology
  • ability to keep up with classroom activities
  • ability to complete set homework or assignments

Education systems have already begun to attempt to decrease the digital divide between students by providing more technological resources at schools. For example:

  • laptops
  • chrome books
  • iPads
  • SmartBoards

Along with the provision of more technologies, educators are ‘up-skilling’ so as to provide the appropriate guidance in using these devices.

Education systems are definitely making a positive difference when it comes to student accessibility to digital technologies, but it is still extremely important that educators are aware of the possibility that not all of their students have equal opportunities, access, and skills in this area.

Teachers may be able to further assist their students in attempting homework by setting activities that need little to no access to the internet for completion. Also, if possible, they could establish an after school homework club with access to technology and the internet.

 

Clare McLaughlan (2016), author of ‘The Homework Gap: The Cruelest Part of the Digital Divide’, quotes Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking in America, as saying, “School systems cannot alone solve this problem”. He believes that schools, teachers, students, parents and the wider community need to communicate and collectively find solutions to this growing situation.

The more informed we are as educators about the possible obstacles facing our students today, the more of a positive difference we can make in their lives.

 

References 

Howell, J., (2012). Teaching with ICT. Digital Pedagogies for Collaboration and Creativity. South Melbourne, VIC. Oxford University Press.

Bently, Prue., (2014). Lack of affordable broadband creating ‘digital divide’. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-02/bridging-the-digital-divide/5566644

McLaughlan, Clare., (2016). The Homework Gap: The ‘Cruelest Part of the Digital Divide’. Retrieved from http://www.neatoday.org/2016/04/02/the-homework-gap/

Howell, J., (2014). Living and Learning in the Digital World Mod01 topic 04. Retrieved from https://do.ilecture.curtin.edu.au/templates/1f80f82f-91ba-408a-9a23-c74d701fe3f1/

 

 

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