Long gone are the days of typewriters and households of only one computer per family to fight over. Each of my children has either a mobile phone, tablet or laptop, and two of which have all three. However, not everyone has the opportunity to participate in a digital world. Unfortunately, there are people that do not have access or financial means for technology or internet and consequently miss out causing a digital divide (Howell,2012).
The digital divide is a concern for all individuals learning and living in today’s digital world, therefore, ‘bridging the gap’ (the hope of making technology accessible by all) is crucial in children’s education. Digital fluency is an important factor of a child’s success in school and a digital divide in a student’s education means that they have limited chances to learn, thus, limiting their development of workforce skills that are required for them beyond their schooling years (Daugherty, Dossani, Johnson& Oguz,2014).
So, what causes the divide? One major factor is low income, preventing access to technology. Another, is technology can be difficult for some to use or they may be unaware of the benefits of technology (Moliani,2011). Furthermore, this gap exists due to an individual’s location, affecting accessibility of broadband technology (Bently,2014) and not only between countries but also within countries. For instance, a household Internet access is 74% in the Australian Capital Territory whereas, Tasmania has only 49%. To bridge this gap in the education system would ultimately enable all students to be digitally fluent for lifelong learning (Howell, 2012).
Organisations are assisting with bridging the digital divide by providing disadvantaged families with computers and skills in technology such as ‘The One Laptop per Child’ project where it provides children with a low cost laptop that can be powered by hand and used with satellite technology (One laptop per child, n.d.). Another, is ‘Infoxchange’, whose mission is to deliver easier accessibility through the provision of internet or hardware (Bently, 2014).
Children at Mornington Island State School on Mornington Island in Queensland, with laptops they received under the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) scheme, (Herald Sun, 2012).
Nevertheless, this divide will never be completely bridged due to the increase in technology, unless the education system makes technology an integral part of education (Howell, 2012) and acknowledges that internet access is a human right (Bently, 2014) for the reason that all children have a right to learn.
Bently, P. (2014). Lack of affordable broadband creating ‘digital divide’, 774 ABC Melbourne. [web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-02/bridging-the-digital-divide/5566644
Daugherty, L., Dossani, R., Johnson, E. & Oguz, M. (2014). Using Early Childhood Education to Bridge the Divide. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://rand.org/pubs/perspectives/PE119.html
Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration & creativity. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press
Moliani, A. (2011). Bridging the digital divide. . Retrieved from https://youtube.com/watch?v=kaxCRnZ_CLg
One Laptop per Child, (n.d.). One Laptop per Child. Zimi’s Story FULL. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpRRivQgpjc