I recently read an article titled “Bridging the digital divide” on abc.net.au (2014), which mentioned the practice, in Australia, of shared wireless broadband connections in housing estates, unit complexes etc. This trial was an effort to lessen the one in five households not accessing the internet, a concern, of David Spriggs, (CEO of technology and social justice group Infoxchange). According to Mr Spriggs, if people cannot access the internet, issues such as unemployment from not being able to access jobs online and/or government services, will negatively impact the individual and community at large. In order to combat the issues using a shared wireless network in closely grouped low income housing would benefit the community by creating opportunity.
Also discussed in the article, is the problem of relatively high costs of equipment and accessing the internet, in low income communities, restricting participation. This creates a divide of have’s and have-not’s. Initiatives like shared wireless, and businesses and individuals who are eager to help by supplying refurbished equipment to low income families, the inequality is decreasing.
In a similar abc.net.au article in March 2014, about the digital divide, Tony Brandenburg (President of the Australian Council for Computers in Education) sums up the problem by saying “Access everywhere is an issue because not everybody is as fortunate as everybody else” highlighting the recurring have/have-not issue.
According to J. Howell (2014) schools are increasingly asked to bridge the digital divide between affordability and opportunities because of the increasing demand, in the workforce, to use a broad range of technology efficiently, and also employers are being more digitally expectant of their employees.
Globally, it is humbling to see people like Nicholas Negroponte, actioning his One Laptop per Child dream in third world countries. Below is the witty explanation of his initiative to bring technology to remote and very poor countries in Africa. It brings to light the vast advantages of equipping everyone with technology to advance their health and social service access and improve liveability overall.
Bentley, P. (2014, July 2). Lack of affordable broadband creating ‘digital divide’ – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-02/bridging-the-digital-divide/5566644
Howell, J. (2014). Chapter 4 Digital expectancy: It’s all about behaviour. In Teaching with ICT Digital Pedagodgy for Collaboration and Creativity (3rd ed., p. 55). Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
TED talks. (2007, December). Nicholas Negroponte: One Laptop per Child, two years on | TED Talk | TED.com [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTKjfgjiQs&w=560&h=315
UNESCO. (2003, September 29). digitaldivide [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://portal.unesco.org/en/files/15738/11387035523digitaldivide.jpg/digitaldivide.jpg://