23 May 2018

HOW TECHNOLOGY CAN HELP BRIDGE DIGITAL DIVIDE

Even as technology becomes more affordable and internet access seems increasingly “everywhere”, a “digital divide” between rich and poor remains. The rich and educated are still more likely than others to have good access to digital resources according to the American Life Project.

Technology is often perceived by people as a luxury item, thought of in the context of the latest smartphone or slimmest laptop. However, thinking about all technology as only a luxury is dangerous. Such a mindset masks the foundational elements of these items that are essential to everyday life: access to information and communications.

The impact of an inadequate access to technology extends beyond school either primary or secondary schools and leads to a cycle of continued lack of access. Lack of access to junior education would impair their post secondary education because admissions are based on standardized assessments and grades. It is possible that students without technology are not developing the skills that will allow them to be admitted to a university. A relationship exists between the use of digital media and student academic achievement. The time that students spend using computers correlates with higher scores on the Program for International Student Assessment which scores on the mathematics assessment section (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, 2005). The same variable of time spent using informational technology also correlates with better grades and grade point averages (Jackson et al., 2008). The more time students spend using technology leads to a greater diversity in activities in which students engaged while on the computer. The increased diversity of activities created more opportunities to engage in self-selected academic activities, including reading websites and writing about their experiences.

How Technology Helped to Bridge Digital Divide

  • Smartphones have helped bridge the divide, as they provide internet access to people who are at a digital disadvantage. Among smartphone owners, “young adults, minorities, those without any prior school education, and those with lower household income levels” are more likely to access the internet  through their phones. Despite this, there are still gaps in high-speed internet access. While few people have high Internet speed some don’t and this has important effects on media access, especially when it comes to streaming video, so this gap is significant.
  • A cell phone is the one tool you have to seek resources and services that will help you get housed. If you’re a young kid living with a family under the poverty level, a home computer means you have the required tools to do your homework instead of rushing to finish during library hours.
  • Many homeless people or those without shelter also have access to a computer, some of them have phones they use to communicate. This makes one particular technology item particularly valuable for accessing information: the cell phone.

Conclusion:

Higher learning through YouTube now offers over 3400 videos. Salman Khan (Khan Academy) is quoted as saying, “The Internet can make education far, far more accessible, so knowledge and opportunity can be more broadly and equitably shared. Quality education need not be dependent on showplace campuses.”

While the future impact of ICT is still unfolding, the potential to enrich traditional learning, teaching and assessment methods and to contribute to the affordability of post-secondary education may constitute opportunities to widen access, it’s even distribution and success for underrepresented people.

Article by: Busayo Tomoh

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