Participation and the digital divide.

In learning about the digital world that surrounds us I was yet to consider the financial aspect of being able to take part in it. Schools are being increasingly asked to bridge the divide between what parents can afford and what society expects children to be fluent in (Howell, 2012, p. 55).  Employers are expecting that job seekers are digitally ready, so potentially this could increase the gap between socio-economic groups. It is concerning that the digital divide is seen as a continuation of the same underlying forces that create any divide between rich vs. poor (James, 2003, p. 4). I now realize that this continuation of a gap means that Lower socio-economic households do not have the same access to technologies that middle and upper-class do (Howell, 2012, p. 57). With the digital world evolving and what has become a crucial element in society, I am relieved to learn that there is research and funding with the aim of bridging this gap. Understanding how crucial it is to provide these amenities to all children as a report by MCEECDYA (Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs) found that a student’s socio-economic background had the biggest effect on their performance in digital fluency (Howell, 2012, p. 57).

Creating a learning environment that is free from discrimination is a large part of any teaching philosophy, I am now beginning to realize just how difficult it is to give all children the rights that they deserve. That is why digital exclusion concerns me as an aspiring teacher when the most vulnerable children are being left behind in this technological revolution (Bentley, 2014).  One in five Australians are not accessing the internet (Bentley, 2014), which is incredibly concerning as there is a whole aspect of our lives that cannot be accessed unless we are connected online. Many government services, job advertisements, and home education, for example, are becoming increasingly only accessible via online resources (Bentley, 2014).  While valuable resources are being promoted in remote communities, which I am currently living in. Issues remain currently with unreliable connectivity, bandwidth speeds and cost, which affect teaching and learning opportunities within schools (Trinidad, 2006, p. 8). The Networking the Nation plan has begun to achieve its aim of connecting all Australians regardless of where they live and is striving to close the digital divide between city and country living (Trinidad, 2006, p. 9).

Other recourses I have found to assist people in low socio-economic brackets, are government assisted programs such as “Solutin,” where people living in social housing are being trialed on offering $10 internet plans per household per month. Along with organizations like “Computerbank” who refurbish computers for people in low-income brackets (Bentley, 2014). In more recent years it is comforting to know that hardware has become affordable to most people which means that using digital technology in the classroom is more affordable than ever.

 

 

References

Bentley, P. (2014) Lack of affordable broadband creating ‘digital divide’. ABC news Melbourne. Retrieved from: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-02/bridging-the-digital-divide/5566644

Howell, J. (2012) Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration and creativity. Oxford University Press. Australia and New Zealand.

Jeffery, J. (2003) Bridging the digital divide. Cheltenham : Edward Elgar Publishing Limited. Retrieved From: http://reader.eblib.com.au.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/(S(goo1kdrdtp5yhwviqd3j2qfa))/Reader.aspx?p=716130&o=94&u=IYd%2byl0uJ3%2f68%2btdVCP3mg%3d%3d&t=1458193343&h=950EE2152C728D6C10BA92A2C0073B6285CA9E2F&s=23604985&ut=240&pg=1&r=img&c=-1&pat=n&cms=-1&sd=1

Trinidad, S. (2006) Closing the digital divide: education telecommunications systems and possibilities in Western Australia. Australian Computers in Education Conference. Cairns, Queensland. Retrieved from: http://espace.library.curtin.edu.au/webclient/StreamGate?folder_id=0&dvs=1458278645073~226&usePid1=true&usePid2=true

 

 

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