“The internet and unrestricted access thereto are essential for freedom of expression…” – Maritje Schaake, member of the European Parliament (as cited in Ermert, 2012, para. 6).
Access to the internet and digital technology are rapidly becoming essential for social participation; however, I was unaware of how digitally divided Australia is. Those impacted by this digital divide could be broadly categorized into two groups: individuals who are unable to access an internet connection, and those who fall at the laggard end of the diffusion of innovation continuum (Howell, 2012, pp. 171-172). Economic disadvantage is a key contributor to the disparity between the technological proficiency of those who do and those do not have access to the internet, as shown in Figure 1.
Globally, 70% of the population is digitally excluded (Molinari, 2011). The One Laptop Per Child (http://one.laptop.org/) project encountered similar internet access issues to those occurring in remote indigenous communities of Australia, such as insufficient engagement with and familiarity with technology (Rennie, Crouch, Wright, & Thomas, 2011, p. 60; Shah, 2011, para. 6).
Molinari (2011) articulates these issues and outlines the objectives for increasing digital accessibility into the future in this TED video.
The combination of limited access to the internet and teachers who do not embrace digital technology is particularly detrimental to students. For teachers to make a meaningful difference to digital fluency and increase students’ engagement with the digital world, they would need to be early adopters of new technology or technological innovators (Howell, 2012, pp. 171-172). I would consider that I have mostly been a laggard in regards to using smartphones and social media. However, influenced by a digitally astute former colleague, I have been an early adopter of new software in the past and found this to be very rewarding. Because teachers need to innovatively utilise whatever technology is available to reduce the impact of the digital divide, it is imperative that I harness the benefits of new technology. As a result of studying this unit, my willingness to try new platforms and apps has increased considerably.
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2014). 8.1460 – Household use of information technology, Australia, 2012-13. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/D0DD505F12749281CA257C89000E3F5E?opendocument
Ermert, M. (2012, December 20). Brief: European Human Rights Court: Internet restriction violates freedom of expression. Retrieved from http://www.ip-watch.org/2012/12/20/european-human-rights-court-internet-restriction-violates-freedom-of-expression/
Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration and creativity. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
Molinari, A. (2011, Aleph Molinari: Bridiging the digital divide. TEDx San Miguel Allende [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaxCRnZ_CLg
Rennie, E., Crouch, A., Wright, A., & Thomas, J. (2011). Home internet for remote indigenous communities. Retrieved from https://accan.org.au/files/SWIN-CLC-CATHomeInternet.pdf
Shah, N. (2011). A blurry vision: Reconsidering the failure of the One Laptop Per Child initiative. Retrieved from http://www.bu.edu/writingprogram/journal/past-issues/issue-3/shah/