Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Digital Divide or Mindset Divide?

These two videos really made me think about whether or not a digital divide really exists.  A Digital Divide can be defined as an inequality between groups in terms of access to, use of, or knowledge of information and communication technologies.  Some people believe that there is a digital divide among age, whereas others believe that there is a digital divide between geographic areas.

After watching these videos, I have come to the conclusion that there really is no digital divide, rather there is only a mindset divide.


Medieval Helpdesk




One Laptop per Child



Explanation of the video

"Earlier this year, OLPC workers dropped off closed boxes containing the tablets, taped shut, with no instruction. 'I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android', Negroponte said. 'Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and they figured out the camera, and had hacked Android.'” [1]

My Reflection

The fact that kids in Africa, who live in a remote village, are illiterate, and have never even seen an electronic device, were able to use a tablet to learn how to read and write is astonishing. This example proves that just about anyone can learn how to operate a technology device given time, patience, persistence, and dedication. However, the key is the mindset of the individual. These kids were completely ignorant to technology, so they had no fear about breaking the tablet, losing data, or making a mistake. They were simply curious. And their curiosity motivated them to learn how to operate this machine that was so foreign to them. They were able to "troubleshoot" by simple trial and error techniques. If you think about it, isn't that how we all learn?  Failing until we succeed to the first step, then failing until we get to the second ... and so on!


Questions I still have

1.  If a growth mindset, coupled with time, patience and persistance is really all that is needed to learn just about anything (let alone a technology device) then why are we so quick to give up, or fear trying new things that are somewhat "foreign" to us?

2.  Is there really a digital divide regarding age? People often say that kids these days are "born" into technology so everything is so "intuitive" to them.  Is this the case, or are kids just more curious and have no fear when it comes to technology?  In contrast, people often say that "older people" did not grow up with technology so it is not as easy or "intuitive" for them.  What would Steve Jobs say about this?

3.  Why are some teachers so resistant to technology? What are these teachers so afraid of? Why do some teachers have the attitude that they "can't" learn technology or that they are "no good" with technology?  If kids in Africa who cannot read or write and have never experienced technology before can do it ... why do some teachers feel like they can't?

4.  How might we support these teachers to embrace technology, stimulate curiosity, promote self-advocacy and self-confidence, and encourage technology integration?

As always, your comments are welcome and encouraged!


References

1.  Technology Review: Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves: www.technologyreview.com/news/506466/given-tablets-but-no-teachers-ethiopian-children-teach-themselves/

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