A blog by George Engel

Technology for All not just a few

In this video, a great vision for the bridging of the digital divide is shown. The mission of One Laptop Per Child is to put a laptop in the hand of every child.

It is possible with vision like this to begin to see a closing of the digital divide. It is important to note, however, that without consideration of culture, gender and soci-economic status, programs like this may fail. As we make way for the future, an understanding of culture is paramount. Roger’s speaks of this in his book Diffusion of Innovations from Free Press. Before an innovation, whether it be a laptop or an agricultural technique, can be diffused into a community, the innovators must first learn the culture and work with the culture to successfully diffuse the technology. Additionally, gender equity must be addressed. As educational technology leaders, we should endeavor to make sure the technology does not appeal to only one gender. The technology should engage gender equally and without bias so that all individuals have a chance to use it to their benefit. Finally, we need to address economics. This is what I like about the One Laptop per Child group. The will give a laptop to all children who need one so that they may become connected to the world.

Is the gift of a laptop the ultimate solution to bridging the digital divide? Possibly. Other would argue that the smart phone is the way to accomplish this. The smart phone has network access and can function as a small computer as well. However, are we going to be giving them away? Are we going to provide those who receive the gift with free digital access? Because without those elements, there will still be those who will not be able to possess such a device and the gap will still be present. These are all issues that need to be addressed as leaders in educational technology. We need to understand them and work to bring about the social change needed to help bridge that gap.

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2 responses

  1. Orit

    George,

    Thanks for the video. You touched on very important points such as culture, gender, and economy. I think another important point is that although in a perfect world where every child has a computer and a connection to the web, there is a vast amount of amount of data and the question is: will learners know how to use networks to find the needed information? The digital divide is not only in the physical form, i.e. whether they have the technology to use, but also, what is done with it.

    Thanks for a great post, videos, and discussions!

    Orit

    February 21, 2011 at 4:45 PM

  2. LOren

    George,

    I appreciate what you say about gender equality!!

    Great post!

    February 23, 2011 at 11:50 PM

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