Project Internet Catalunya: education, digital divide, e-Awareness

The results of the Project Internet Catalonia, directed by , were presented yesterday at the Open University of Catalonia headquarters. Actually, it was just a formal presentation, as the [reports] are to be made public and available to everyone […] between October 2007 to January 2008.

Nevertheless, professors Castells and Imma Tubella, directors of the project, gave some highlights of their (40 researchers were involved) main findings.

Under my point of view — and own interests, of course — there are two important statements that would explain both successes and failures in the field of Information and Communication Technologies for Development, digital (il)literacy, and digital content and services use:

  • The study shows that the more independent and capable people are in developing projects, the more they will use the internet. And the more they use the internet, the more autonomy they can achieve.
  • The Internet […]requires some educational level, because we live in an uninformed Information Society, and this will not be solved by the Internet. The Internet deepens a historical divide: the educational: It is not just a matter of access, but to receive the appropriate education to know what for and how to use the Internet

Put short: ICTs are catalysts and multipliers. Capable people — and developed countries — will find an amazing tool to boost their abilities and the reach and scope of their energies. Illiterate will enter new — digital — illiteracies that will make them opt out of something they don’t understand or find useful at all, widening the gap of their illiteracy, unpowering — impoverishing — them.

Hence, the role of education is more important than ever — let aside health and economic development, of course — and the teaching staff is the key element in the incorporation of the internet into school education, but the scenario is quite sad:

  • the presence of internet in the classroom is very low in comparison to the use made of it by teachers and students outside of school
  • the majority of computers with an internet connection were to be found in the computer studies classrooms to which students had much less access than they did to their own classroom
  • until very recently teachers tend to use the internet to maintain the traditional teaching patterns, rather than trying to use it to innovate
  • a good number of school directors do not prioritise the integration of ICT and the internet for educational ends

This is something I wrote about in my post Nativos Digitales [Digital Natives — post in Spanish] at the Educación y Cultura [Education and Culture] blog, were I stated that:

It’s likely that one of the steps we have to make, as teachers — but also as parents, as education begins (or should begin) at home —, is accelerating our “nationalization” in the digital world: we’ll always have the accent of our mother tongue, but only by speaking in the same language understanding will become possible. And, let’s face it, digital natives will not learn a dead language, ours, the one of letters and mail, phone calls, or incunable facsimile editions with yellowish pages.

Manuel Castells writes a summary about the project in Manuel Castells’ World of Communication

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2007) “Project Internet Catalunya: education, digital divide, e-Awareness” In ICTlogy, #45, June 2007. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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