How to Bridge the Digital Divide?

Jennifer Evans, Centre for Educational Development and Technology, University of the South Pacific

Any of us who wish to use digital technologies to deliver, receive or participate in teaching and learning activities experience the frustrations of access – through issues of bandwidth, copyright, power problems, lack of time or expertise, lack of funds, lack of personal contact, hardware failure … or hardware absence. These are issues that cause difficulties for us all, but can create seemingly unsurmountable barriers to some countries with the biggest need for access to the potential of an expanding resource pool. Sir John Daniel ( asks some very practical questions about the challenges presented by e-learning to the developing world: is it accessible? is it appropriate? is it accredited? is it affordable? and what does it take? He asks: what will it take to replace the digital divide with a digital dividend?

The aim of this workshop is to get some active sharing of ideas and experiences on e-teaching and e-learning challenges (especially in difficult circumstances) and solutions/practices that lead to maximum impact/effectiveness. Participants from developed and developing states will work together to establish a shared understanding of the issues as they appear in different contexts.

Outcomes sought:
­- Common understanding of the nature of international/national/institutional/ personal barriers to on-line T&L.
­- Identification of strategies and tactics that can be used to overcome the barriers.
­- A record of participants’ experience and expectations in attempting to address the barriers.

The workshop will use a modified nominal group technique (NGT)* to generate ideas about the definition of the term “digital divide”, to identify and discuss e-learning related issues and challenges, and to share experiences and useful strategies and tactics that can be tried in different circumstances.

NGT takes advantage of pooled ideas. This means that the ideas of a variety of individuals with varied backgrounds, experiences, knowledge and skills will be used together. By doing this, the resulting strategies and tactics are likely to be better than those that might be obtained by other methods. The modified NGT allows the ideas to be divorced from the individual and results in a “we” document rather than a facilitator driven document.

Teachers, administrators, technologists and students are all invited to attend. Come prepared to share experiences and workshop potential solutions!

*[Based on the ideas presented in Delbecq, A, Van de Ven, A and Gustafson D Group Techniques for Program Planning: A Guide to Nominal Group and Delphi Processes (1975) Scott, Foreman & Co.]

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