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Divided on the digital divide

16/09/2011

There is an ongoing twitter consultation on technology for learning in Scotland. It’s tag is #EduScotICT.

There are convincing arguments for allowing young people to maximise the use of technology to support their learning and the range of tools available are amazing.

While I have some concerns about safety of young people on the Internet, the schools are doing a relatively good job in making them aware of the risks.

For me though there is one huge black hole in the strategy. This style of learning lends itself to flexible learning at home as well as at school and children without regular access to the internet at home are already disadvantaged.

In Glasgow (where Scottish deprivation is most dense) only 50% of households have access to the internet. Where restrictions to home access is combined with other deprivation indicators, then one more barrier is placed in the way of social mobility.

The education system is quite rightly patting itself on the back for some really innovative and effective changes that have been put in place by using technology to support learning but unless we start campaigning for wider access to the internet at home for children then the all the principals of the Scottish comprehension system of education are at risk.

There is a BBC report today http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-14944420 which calls for Pay as You Go internet in Scotland. This may help in a small way but we must have radical action.

I propose that all Scottish schoolchildren should have a right to free internet access at home. Lets build this into the operating licences of the ISP’s.  Perhaps within this model  School systems could act as a proxy server so that safeguards in place at school could also protect them at home.

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From → education

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