Participation and the Digital Divide

Technology is an important part of the education system, integrated to enhance learning opportunities and experiences, to equip students for the increasingly digital world they are already a part of and to prepare students for future employment in the increasingly technology reliant career market. For this reason it is necessary for teachers to become knowledgeable and capable with digital resources. The responsibility placed on teachers and schools to meet digital expectancy and bridge the digital divide is becoming greater. While recent studies about internet access/usage in Australia look positive, the conundrum of bridging the digital divide is that though fewer Australian’s are ‘offline’, the adjustment of the curriculum and job skills requirements to match a growing digitally fluent society, and living in the digital world in general, means that those left behind are even more disadvantaged. (Ewing, 2016)

With socio-economic status being a significant contributor to the digital divide, and the greatest effect on student proficiency rates in the use of technology (Howell, 2012), solving this issue of the digital divide could seem daunting at best, or even impossible. The education system has a great responsibility to ensure the inequality of access, participation and proficiency in Australian homes does not significantly disadvantage a student from achieving a high level of proficiency with digital technology. A search on the Teachers TV online video library at www.teacherstv.com.au gives a glimpse of how technology is being effectively integrated into the classroom for a variety of subjects, not just those directly related to technology, and when 1.3 million Australian households are without internet access (“Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2014-15”, 2016), the implementation of technology resources in schools is very important. And the need for teachers to recognize when a student is at a digital disadvantage and make efforts to compensate for that, is integral to that student not slipping into the proverbial digital divide.

For a little clip that helped make using technology in the classroom seem less daunting for me, watch this video.

References:

Ewing, S. (2016). Australia’s digital divide is narrowing, but getting deeper. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/australias-digital-divide-is-narrowing-but-getting-deeper-55232

Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2014-15. (2016)Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/ProductsbyReleaseDate/ACC2D18CC958BC7BCA2568A9001393AE?OpenDocument

Howell, J. (2012).Teaching With ICT. South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

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