What is the Digital Divide
Wikipedia defines the digital divide as the gap between individuals, households, businesses and geographic areas at different socio-economic levels with regard both to their opportunities to access information and communications technologies (ICT’s) and to their use of the Internet for a wide variety of activities. The activity we are focusing on is the education of teachers using several forms of technology in developing countries .
When addressing the digital divide, Kante (2003) states, “The world’s most successful economies are no longer powerhouses of industry, but rather powerhouses of information. For developing countries to compete in the new economy they must provide their workers with the greatest access to information regardless of subject”(16). The same can be said for the field of education. Competitiveness, or the ability to provide the best education will require access to technology that can provide greater access to information. Sehrt (2003) encourages education as part of the solution to the divide as well as other health and hunger issues in developing countries.
While examining teacher training in developing nations that utilize new technologies such as podcasts it is important to consider the digital divide. There are two ways to look at the digital divide in relation to teacher training on technologies in developing nations. The first is that part of what is encompassed when discussing a digital divide are connectivity issues that developing nations face. If wonderful teacher resources are provided via technology that has to be charged or connected to the internet consideration must be made as to where the energy will come from and how to ensure reliable connection. Also, if using e-learning to combat the digital divide it is important that the content be meaningful- not simply technology for technologies sake, and it made meaningful on a case by case country by country basis understanding the digital/ connectivity issues of each individual country.
The second idea to ponder is how this type of teacher training will affect the digital divide. Does it have the potential of shrinking the divide between the developing and developed nations? Kozma, et al. seem to support the idea that using technology will help shrink the gap. However, because developing nations continue to access, use, and improve technology on a regular basis, developing nations will never “catch up”. But programs that use technology to aid in education can reduce the gap, and make gains in education, learning, and valuable information sharing.
This video suggests turning the digital divide into digital opportunity.
Hock, Lee Kiong. “Benefits and Viability of the Smart School Programme: Lessons from the American Experience.” Malaysian Journal of Economic Studies. Malaysian Economic Association Malaysian Journal of Economic Studies. 1999.
Kante, C & Savani, V. (2003). E-Learning a New Frontier in the Developing World.Technologia, 15-19.
Kozma, R., McGhee, R., Quellmalz, E., & Zalles, D. (2004). Closing the digital divide: Evaluation of the World Links program. International Journal of Educational Development, 24(4), 361-381.
Shraim, K., & Khlaif, Z. (2010). An e-learning approach to secondary education in palestine: Opportunities and challenges. Information Technology for Development, 16(3), 159-173.
Marc Sehrt (2003) Digital divide into digital opportunities: E-learning in the developing countries . UN Chronicle.