From Digital Divide to Digital Dividend: What Will It Take?
Type of work: Article (academic)
One of the greatest challenges in higher education is to give billions of impoverished people access to it across the globe. The growth of information and communications technologies (ICTs) over the past decade holds great promise for meeting this challenge, yet the limited access that most of the world’s population still has to such technologies constitutes its own challenge as well. Can we connect technology to learning and training for the benefit of these populations?
It is our belief that the digital divide that currently exists can give way to the digital dividends that such technologies offer for educational improvement in a global context. The key is for providers of postsecondary education to combine connectivity and shared courseware into a new business model that massively increases access to education. National governments and educational institutions can adopt many strategies to foster such a model and vastly improve the lives of people worldwide, particularly in developing countries.
In this article, we outline the important steps that such entities can take and have already taken to maximize the digital dividends that ICTs provide for populations across the digital divide. While our emphasis is on postsecondary education rather than primary or secondary education, some of the recommendations offered here have implications for the long-term development of these other educational sectors as well.