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Exploring the digital divide amongst schools requires not only requires examining the access the students have to technology but also the equality in the educational experiences the students have with the technology.
The usage of technology in a school plays an important role. It is said to be one of the factors that cause a digital divide amongst schools. Reasons are as followed; putting computers in the classroom does not automatically decrease the divide. The outcome of investing in computers should be for the benefit of the students. Students must be able to manipulate their skills on the technology thus improving the learning process. Doing so would mean analyzing how the students are making use of the computer technology provided to them.
From survey B done on the local and international schools students, we find that 47% of the sampled local students do not use the computers at school. This is a common case as we find from prior results that students are more acquainted with their computers at home. Although this then leads to a socioeconomic problem. As students from different socioeconomic groups have varying access to computers and the Internet. Therefore this has an effect on the equity of computer access.
However survey B shows that 57% of local students didn’t have access to computers at home. Those who did have access, 77% of them did not use it.
This leads to a major problem as most students are unlikely to be using a computer at all. It is almost impossible to enjoy the benefits of ICTs without the use of ICT in education and indeed ICT education itself to improve skills.
Computers have brought about a revolution across all industries. They have changed the face of society. What was once known as a technology that required specially trained people has now become a daily utility. Computers have gained immense importance in day-to-day life. Their increasing utility has made computer education the need of the day. (Oak)
The ICT skills of students in the local school were poor. From the survey we see that on average 45% of students did not have the required skills to use simple tool-based applications (such as word processors) Where as students from international school all of them had some sort of idea about each of the simple tool-based applications.
Various technologies deliver different kinds of content and serve different purposes in the classroom. For example, word processing and e-mail promote communication skills; database and spreadsheet programs promote organizational skills; and modelling software promotes the understanding of science and math concepts. Therefore it is important to consider how these electronic technologies differ and what characteristics make them important as vehicles for education (Becker, 1994).
Computer’s being implemented in education has made it not only easier for the teachers to render knowledge but also for students to grasp it much quicker. Computer technology allows a fun-element to education and it goes without saying that the Internet has endowed education with interactivity. The computer offers several advantages to a student’s life, ranging from interactive audio-visual media to PowerPoint presentations to animation software. Each can be used to render information to students in an interactive and much more appealing manner. The visual effects provided by the animation and presentation software result in greater awareness of the students dues to greater interest rates. Furthermore, these applications serve as visual aids to the teachers. Overhead projectors and screens facilitate a simultaneous viewing of information by a large number of students. These audio-visual teaching aids have brought about marked improvements in student attendance and attentiveness. Interactive media have proven to be useful in enhancing the concentration levels of students. Therefore we can conclude that this underlines the importance of computer teaching against textbooks. (Oak)
Computers skills are more important than ever, required for nearly half of all jobs now compared to less than a third in 1997.
A technology savvy youth is playing an increasing influential role in employment and with a countries development. Education is crucial for students to be prepared to meet global needs so that well paying jobs are not outsourced. Lack of Education and employment slows down progress within a country (Koss, 2001).
The most severe consequences of the digital divide are the long term effects that it can have on students that do not have access to education. Lacking access and computer skills would mean that a whole generation will miss out on realizing their full potential in an information and communication technology world (Koss, 2001).
Therefore it is virtually impossible to ignore the need for technology in an education curriculum (Di Bello, 2005).
Studies have also shown that school students who are competent computer users tend to perform better in their other key school subjects than those with limited experience and confidence to perform basic computer necessities. According to OECD studies it has been found thata tech-savy youth could perform strikingly better due to the relationship that they hold with computers.
In short students with limited access to computers or only recent access to computers are at a higher risk of performing poorly at curriculum level.
The internet has more or less become a fundamental medium of communication and information processing, permeating every domain of economy and society. The more it becomes the key medium for business, education, for social services, for personal development, and for social interaction, the more the capacity to use it becomes dependant on peoples educational level. In other words the real inequality starts when we are all dependent on the internet. The more we move into an internet society, the more education becomes the foundation for equal opportunity. Therefore in addition to the computer use, the level of internet use was examined as well.
The results also show that 64% of students did not have internet access as compared to all the students who had access from the international school.
Information and Communication Technology is playing an increasingly influential role in reshaping employment in large parts of the world. Information and Communication Technologies presents unprecedented opportunities to combat poverty by increasing income, opening markets and providing employment opportunities. Knowledge based economies have an advantage in today’s global market. Countries with extensive knowledge assets are able to open employment opportunities which create rapid technological progress that benefits in economic growth and rising living standards.
A trend has formed with employees wanting workers with certified skills and educational levels to fill positions. Students in higher education are dealing with more than a digital divide, it has now become a degree divide. Students that are prevented from getting bachelor degrees are at a disadvantage in gaining employment (Garmon, 2003).
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