Download article (.pdf) | By OECD/CERI Secretariat | Published in Learning to Bridge the Digital Divide, 2000
This article focuses on relationships and strategies relevant to the digital divide in education and learning—strategies which were put forward during the Fifth NCAL/OECD Roundtable, The Lifelong Learning and New Technologies Gap: Reaching the Disadvantaged, December 1999. As a summary of the Roundtable discussion, this article examines general policy dilemmas, the relationships involved in combining the aims of quality and equity in ICT learning use, and the roles of stakeholders in the process. In its conclusion, this article discusses the value of the international exchange of educational experiences and evaluation.
As this article focuses on the digital divide, it highlights considerations of equity in access and quality in relation to ICT materials. Linguistic issues are of major policy importance in many countries, given the dominance of the English language in software and the Internet. The desire to promote cultural diversity is one reason behind interest in linguistic issues, but so is the ending of social exclusion among non-English-speaking populations. In order to promote equity, ICT must be used strategically, to help open up new forms of teaching and learning.
So that ICT can further bridge divides, the position of the teacher is pivotal. Poorly prepared or unmotivated teachers can negatively influence and thereby reinforce divides. Professional development should build teachers’ ICT confidence and competence, including their knowledge of educational applications. As this article discusses, teaching styles need to move away from didactic methods and towards tutoring and supported learning, and networking can aid in this endeavour as it is important for connecting individuals and fostering an atmosphere of innovation in institutions.