“digital divide in education goes beyond the issue of access to technology”

April 28, 2010

Through my blog browsing (in this case, Tony Bates’ e-learning and distance education resources site) I have found information about a book published within the past week or so from the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (2010) Are the New Millenium Learners Making the Grade? Paris: OECD

I did a bit of exploring of the parts of the book that are freely available online (seems to be actually most of the book), and learned that the second digital divide (deeper than the issue of access – which is rapidly fading as a concern) refers to students who may appear to be “savvy” with technology but who, in fact, are not “critical and creative users of technology”.  This may not seem particularly new (lots of us have speculated about this) but what is truly interesting is that the report is highly research-based which gives a credibility to conclusions such as:

  • 7. ICT familiarity matters for educational performance… differences associated with the length of time students have been using a computer remain once socio-economic background is accounted for
  • 8. There is a stronger correlation between educational performance and frequency of computer use at home than at school.

and policy implications such as:

  • 4. Adopt holistic policy approaches to ICT in education
  • 5. Adapt school learning environments…. students should be able to locate and use a computer at any time, according to the particular needs of their individual and team assignments…. governments should provide the conditions for them to flourish and should assess their effects.

Let’s hope that policy makers look at this very closely.