Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 | Computer Usage, ICT in Africa | 3 Comments
The opposite of the digital divide is digital inclusion. You are digitally included when you have access to digital resources and have learned how to use them – you have crossed the divide and are reaping the benefits of access to the digital world.
Teachers, are you digitally included?
You should be! Teachers play a critical role in helping learners to move towards digital inclusion. But teachers must hurry up – learners are overtaking them. Many learners have cell phones in their pockets. They seldom use these devices to make calls – they don’t have money to do so. They mainly use them to send text messages and pictures – in digital format – to their friends.
Where does this leave the teacher?
A cell phone used to send and retrieve digital information is a digital device. Learners using such devices are digitally connected – they have achieved a measure of digital inclusion and are no longer on the wrong side of the digital divide.
Children are mostly using technology for entertainment. Those who have their own computers, or have access to them at home, use them to play games; they download music videos and movies; and they interact with their friends on Facebook. When their digital inclusion is through cell phones, they use these devices for social networking. It is debatable how much learning takes place in this way. For meaningful and directed learning to happen, they need guidance – guidance that only their teachers can give them.
Sadly, some teachers have not yet made the transition to become digitally included – they are left behind, while the learners are surging ahead. Learners need guidance, but how can they be guided if their guides have been left behind?
The role of teachers is an important one. You have to guide them so that their tools of choice – computers and cell phones – are used gainfully as learning aids. In this way they will build skills required for prospering in the twenty-first century.
For more technology tips for teachers click here.
Tuesday, October 5th, 2010 | education | 6 Comments
Did you know that today, 5 October 2010, is World Teachers’ Day? What is this day about?
According to the World Teachers’ Day website, its aim is as follows:
Recovery begins with teachers
On World Teachers’ Day 2010 hundreds of thousands of students, parents and activists around the world will pay homage to all teachers who have been directly or indirectly affected by a major crisis. Be it a humanitarian crisis, such as the earthquake in Haiti and China, or the global economic crisis that has devastated many developed economies over the past year, the role of teachers and other education personnel is vital to social, economic and intellectual rebuilding.
All those who are fighting to provide quality education to children of the world can join teachers and their representative organisations to celebrate the profession and show them their support!
Teachers affected by a major crisis? Perhaps the recent strike? I don’t think strike action qualifies as a crisis for teachers – it is self-inflicted – but it does constitute a crisis to the victimized learners. Maybe we should have a World Learners’ Day to give support to learners who are trying to get a quality education in spite of their teachers!
A definite crisis is the lack of support offered by education authorities to empower teachers to use technology! While learners are becoming increasingly digitally included, many of our teachers are still on the wrong side of the digital divide. True, many of them are reluctant to use technology, but the real crisis lies in the lack of support for teachers to change their attitudes towards technology and to become skilled practitioners.
I applaud all those teachers who are willing to do whatever they can, in spite of their circumstances, to provide their learners with a good quality education.
Sunday, August 8th, 2010 | education, ICT in Africa, technology | 3 Comments
A huge gap exists between those sections of the population having access to digital resources, such as computers, the internet and other technologies, and those who are not as fortunate. This gap is known as the digital divide.
The digital divide is most easily observed when certain groups own digital resources – or at least have access to them – and other groups don’t. Most people in the developed world own digital tools, whereas those in the developing world don’t. But even within any one country this divide is also apparent when you compare the affluent part of the society with its poorer counterpart. The gap is made wider when internet access is not available – or affordable – and when people don’t have the necessary skills to use digital tools.
The digital divide is often linked to other divides, such as the gender gap, racial inequalities, the urban-rural divide and language barriers.
In Africa the digital divide is quite severe, and it often goes hand in hand with the other divides along gender, racial, location, language and poverty lines.
Teachers can play a critical role in erasing the digital divide. The first step is to obtain access to digital tools for your own use – this means you have to purchase a personal computer or a laptop, or arrange to use one on a regular basis. If you already have access to such a tool, you are indeed fortunate.
The next step is to learn how to use your digital device. At times you may feel like a tight-rope walker while battling to cross over to the milk and honey of the promised digital land, but with determination and perseverance you will succeed. Many of your peers have already done so.
You have to cross the digital divide first – only then will you be able to lead your learners safely over the chasm-crossing bridge.
Tuesday, May 11th, 2010 | ICT in Africa | 6 Comments
A huge gap exists between those sections of the population that have access to digital resources, such as computers, the internet, and other technologies, and those that do not. This gap is called the digital divide.
The digital divide includes the imbalance in physical access to ICTs, as well as the imbalance in connectivity, and the skills needed to participate effectively as a digital citizen.
The digital divide is often linked to other divides, such as the gender gap, racial inequalities, urban-rural divide, the gulf between rich and the poor, and developed versus developing world.
In Africa the digital divide is quite severe, and it often goes hand in hand with the other divides along gender, racial, location and poverty lines.
The opposite of the digital divide is digital inclusion. A person who is digitally included has crossed the divide and is now benefiting from digital resources.
Teachers can play a critical role in moving towards digital inclusion. Once teachers have crossed the digital divide, they will be able to lead learners over the bridge. But teachers must hurry up – learners are overtaking them. Many learners have cell phones in their pockets. They mainly use these devices to share information – text messages and images – with their friends.
A cell phone used to send and retrieve digital information is a digital device. Learners using such devices are digitally connected – they have achieved inclusion and are no longer on the wrong side of the digital divide.
Sadly, some teachers have not yet made the jump – they are still left behind, while the learners are included in the digital world. This means that learners are let loose on their own in a bewildering world of information. At times the information sources are incorrect and misleading; some websites contain objectionable material. Learners need guidance, but how can they be guided if their guides have been left behind?
So there is your first reason for concerning yourself with ICTs and e-learning: you have to cross the digital divide in order for you to provide guidance to your learners.
Thursday, March 25th, 2010 | technology | 8 Comments
This picture speaks volumes!
Teachers are teaching learners in classrooms devoid of all technology, while almost every learner carries a cell phone. That means learners are party to digital inclusion, while their teachers are not.
A huge gap exists between those sections of the population that have access to digital resources, such as computers, the internet, and other technologies, and those that do not. This gap is known as the “digital divide”.
The digital divide includes the imbalance in physical access to digital and information technology, as well as the imbalance in connectivity, and the skills needed to participate effectively as a digital citizen.
This divide is clearly seen in schools today. The current classroom was designed centuries ago. The blackboard was invented in 1801 and after all the years still occupies centre stage. Technology has not yet altered the majority of classrooms on the continent.
While we are teaching learners in venues that are on the wrong side of the digital divide, many learners – in fact, most of them – have already crossed the line and are now digitally included. They may not have access to computers at home, but they are using cell phones to connect digitally to their peers. When you send a text message, you’ve attained some degree of digital inclusion.
Sending text messages is a far cry from benefiting fully from the promised land side of the digital divide. More digital skills are required. Teachers can play a critical role in helping learners to cross the divide fully. But it is impossible if they try to do this in a setting created during a pre-digital age.
An interactive whiteboard is a smart step towards establishing a digital environment – it can transform your classroom into a modern digital learning centre, where your learners interact with digital technology on a daily basis. But the installation of the board is just a beginning. You, as the teacher, must have the courage to cross the digital divide. An interactive whiteboard will help you too, in a non-threatening way, to walk this road.
The introduction of an interactive whiteboard is an important step towards digital inclusion for both you and your learners.
Click here for more information about interactive whiteboards.