In this three part blog series, we discussed what is digital divide blog 1 and why it is so important to bridge the global digital divide blog 2. In this last blog of the series, let's discuss how this digital divide impacts learning, education and the nation's economy and how can this gap be bridged.
Taking reference from the standard definition the 'digital divide' refers to the existing gaps in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), which includes individuals across the globe, groups and even countries.
Education and learning are the two main issues that lie at the heart of the present digital divide and hence is a burning issue than a more obvious gap in the access to technology itself. With lack of proper learning and education, economies become stagnant. The relation is between the cause and effect.
Economies thrive with better connectivity. The signs of 'emerging economy' can be seen everywhere where innovations are made possible by ICT that is transforming the way economies and its people are working. ICT therefore has become a gateway to economic growth.
This importance to ICT and the lack of it in both economic and social sense explains why bridging what has come to be known as the 'digital divide' is a priority for societies and nations who are willing to take the big advantage of the opportunities ICT offers for the nation's growth.
The new generation devices and sophisticated machines and equipments are but useless without the power to exploit them. Nurturing this is in part the job of schools, colleges where foundations of technology literacy are laid; in part, it is also dependant on the learning that takes place in workplaces, communities and homes. In the present global economic landscape, education and learning is lifeblood for nation and its people's growth. The price of a lost opportunity is huge if you ignore the gaps in the 'learning digital divide'.
To enforce lifelong learning and education, the education policy makers and educationist community should come up with strategies relevant to bridge this gap by reaching the disconnected underclass. The role of technology stakeholders in the process is as much crucial to execute the international exchange of education and learning.
Language is one more barrier which draws attention for policy makers to address linguistic issues. Given the importance of English language in software and technology, it’s crucial to bring equity and social inclusion among non-English speaking countries. ICT must be used strategically to bridge the digital divide and to help such populations open up to new forms of learning and education.
In the information age, lack of access to information can lead to disconnection from economy and hence democracy, both in commercial and social-economic sense. Let's take the example of India itself, with demonetization and its after affects, it's the people who have connectivity and access to communication technology are the ones who are empowered to do cashless transactions and in turn contribute to the nation's economy through new age learning adopting alternative payment methods using e-wallets and net banking.
In the present technology landscape where the pace of education, learning and commerce and its development depends much on the spectrum of knowledge and its scale of possibilities, current attempts should drive the efforts to widen the ICT access gap. This initiative should be to address the needs of a particular user community to facilitate equal learning and opportunities.
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