Participating actively in the digital world has become a necessity rather than a choice in the modern competitive world. Parents, employers and the community expects its members to be digitally competent. This blog post provides an over view of the digital divide in the society which affects participation levels and in turn creates a knowledge gap.
Parents are aware of the increasing influence of the digital world and expect the schools to raise the digital competency of their children. Schools are expected to bridge the digital divide by offering the students better technology than what they might be able to afford at home. Though the students of today belong to a digitally native generation, it is still an unequal digital world. In Australia, there is a varying level of digital experience among students. Students coming from lower socio economic households do not have the same access to technology as the students coming from middle and upper socio economic households (Howell, 2012). In a classroom resembling the below picture, it is understood that some of the schools in rural areas, from developing or underdeveloped countries cannot even afford to have chairs and desks for their students. In such a scenario, to make digital participation a priority might be unrealistic.
There is a growing interest in technology rich learning environments or TRE’s in Australia as well as in the other parts of the world. There are three types of uses of technology in schools namely, teachers using technology based activities in class, students using technology to complete assignments, doing collaborative work inside and outside class etc and technology used for administrative purposes which helps in keeping track of student and teacher information. The primary goal of using technology in schools is as a support system which aids student learning (Woolfolk & Margetts, 2013).
The gap between the people having or not having access to the internet is narrowing according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. There is a need to explore the issues of accessing quality internet services to reduce digital disparity as cited by Fox (2014). In countries like Africa, mobile technology is playing a vital role in bridging this gap, easing access to the internet and communications and thus empowering citizens with information at the click of a button (El-Khalili, S, 2015).
The Australian Curriculum has developed a digital technology curriculum which will help reduce the knowledge gap in children caused due to the digital divide (Australian Curriculum, n.d.). Children who belong to low socio economic groups will not be able to perform in a better manner and with the provision of digital technology in schools, these children can have better access. Mobile applications like the ‘photomath app’ helps solve handwritten math problems and teaches children how to solve it themselves. Students who have access to these technological help have better chances of enhancing their grades.
Thus it is understood that the topics are interconnected and to gain access to digital information, digital fluency could be increased, which in turn will bring greater digital participation, so that the digital divide can be reduced.
Australian Curriculum,( n.d.). Digital technologies. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/technologies/digital-technologies/curriculum/f-10?layout=1
El-Khalili, S (2015). Mobile technology bridging the African digital divide. Retrieved from http://nehandaradio.com /2015/05/18/mobile-technology-bridging-the african -digital-divide/
Fox, M.(2014, Feb 26).Digital divide still an issue for low income earners. The Sydney Morning Herald.p.1
Howell, J.(2012). Teaching with ICT digital pedagogies for collaboration and creativity. South Melbourne ,VIC: Oxford University Press
Pixabay.(n.d.).classroom with no tables and chairs [image].Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/gender-class-training-trainer-1459661/
Pixabay.(n.d.).pair of dividers[image].Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/architect-designer-pair-of-dividers-297622/
Woolfolk,A & Margetts, K (2013). Educational psychology (3rd ed). Frenchs Forest ,NSW: Pearson Australia