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About the Book, "From Digital
Divide to Digital Opportunity"
"In this information age, education and Internet are apt
equalizers that empower the disadvantaged. At a time when we need to
provide digital opportunities for everyone, this book lays out a game
plan that blends wisdom, compassion and practical experience."
-- Jack Kemp, Former HUD Secretary and Co-Founder, Empower America
"This important book highlights ways the 'digital divide' goes well
beyond issues of access. The authors provide insights into interactive
media that empower the dispossessed and aid all people to 'find their
-- Chris Dede, Harvard University Timothy E. Wirth Professor of Learning
"I applaud Drs. Kuttan and Peters for their emphasis on
comprehensive, strategic approaches. As this book makes abundantly clear,
the challenges are simply too great for piecemeal solutions."
-- Mario Morino, Chairman, Morino Institute
"The authors should be congratulated. This book represents
an important contribution in the search for answers to how all people
can benefit from the technological changes now rapidly underway, not
just the most fortunate."
-- Major R. Owens (D-NY), US Congressman and Senior Member of the House
Education and Workforce Committee
is the founder and chairman of the
National Education Foundation CyberLearning (www.cyberlearning.org),
a national and global leader in bridging the digital divide. He is the
creator of many concepts, such as "CyberLearning," "Management By Systems,"
"Total Tennis," and "Holistic Executive," has advised many world leaders,
including Rajiv Gandhi, and has helped develop many young celebrities,
such as tennis champions Andre Agassi and Monica Seles and U.S. Presidential
honoree Roger Kuttan .
directs the Mid-Atlantic
Regional Technology in Education Consortium (MAR*TEC) at Temple University.
He teaches at the University of Maryland and is also president of Edusolutions123,
an education consulting firm.
Amid all of the talk about the digital divide, there is
little to point to in the way of effective solutions. Putting computers
in classrooms without adequate teacher training, Internet access, and
courseware doesn't solve anything. School/community center administrators,
communications/information technology experts, and policymakers need
a broader understanding of the issues surrounding the digital divide
debate in order to formulate policy and implement viable solutions.
This book approaches the problem from an historical, political, and
global perspective. It presents a comprehensive discussion of the problems
and provides workable solutions, potential model approaches, and country-by-country
analysis. Unique in scope and structure, this work is both a policy
guide and reference book, providing solutions and resources that will
help to build a digital community and foster the exchange of information
and best practices. Anyone serious about bridging the digital divide
or providing digital opportunities will want to read this book and explore
the accompanying CD-ROM for probably the most extensive set of references,
web sites, materials and resources on digital divide.
One: What is the Digital Divide?
This chapter sets the debate about the digital divide in context. After
tracing the evolution of the digital divide and its relationship with
other technological divides that have occurred in our history since
the development of the telegraph, telephone, radio and television. The
authors explore some of the unique features of the Internet and draw
some comparisons between analyzing the Internet through the prism of
Universal Service as opposed to Universal Access principles and traditions.
The authors highlight the emerging "broadband divide" and how that issue
affects a number of groups including low-income groups, African-Americans,
Hispanic Americans, individuals with disabilities, rural population
Two: Why is the Digital Divide an Urgent Problem?
The authors make their case as to why the digital divide is more
than a divide amongst income groups. Evidence is presented as to why
the problem will not be simply resolved when technology prices fall
low enough for lower income groups to afford. The issue is made more
complex because unequal access is intertwined with cultural, social,
historical and economic factors, and it is this mix of factors, not
unequal technology access alone that is dynamically reshaping our society.
The authors show how the digital divide impacts a number of key institutions
such as education, access to jobs and training and lifelong learning
and may be closing window of opportunity for social and economic betterment
for today's disadvantaged groups. From this analysis, the authors provide
a glimpse into why the first part of the 21st Century will be significantly
different from the last part of the 20th, as new evidence suggests that
the digital divide presents a danger to the health of America's economy
and some of its most treasured institutions.
Three: The Digital Divide in the American Education System
This chapter describes a core issue with relationship to the digital
divide debate-the pivotal role schools need to play in overcoming issues
of access to technology and skills. The authors make clear that despite
federal leadership in the area of improving school capacity to provide
both computers that can access the Internet and subsidies for telecommunications
usage, poor schools have a long way to go before they can begin to help
most of their students gain the skills necessary to perform in the 21st
century economy. One of the major problems is the lack of teacher training
and expertise to effectively integrate technology into the school curriculum.
Another problem is that suburban schools are moving much faster ahead
in their efforts to capitalize on broadband technologies so that poorer
urban and rural schools are destined to play "catch-up" for some considerable
time period as these more technology sophisticated schools make more
effective use of multi-media (particularly video) applications for learning.
The chapter will also present a more detailed review of the E-Rate program's
successes and shortcomings, the prospects for distance learning and
the future of K-12 schooling.
Four: The Global Digital Divide
This chapter provides in-depth analysis of the digital divide from the
global perspective and examines what we can learn from the number of
countries that have created effective policies to cross the digital
divide. First the authors describe some of the current contrasts between
the Industrialized and Developing Nations and the specific divides within
nations and regions.
Secondly, some of the mold breaking exceptions among developing countries
is examined. For example, what can the success stories such as that
represented by the rapid high-tech led economic growth of a Singapore, teach the developed and developing world? The chapter
spotlights some of the key challenges ahead for the developing world.
Is it possible to create a policy to cross the digital divide if you
are a Third World country where most of your population exists on a
dollar a day? What are some of the replicable methods that others can
apply-for example how can we learn from the way India has mobilized
its population to become a leading producer of software engineers? Other
nations and regions that are highlighted:
The land that the Internet forgot,
Can a few bright stars light up a dark sky?,
European Union: The North/South Divide,
Europe: Where to begin ... again,
the "E" in Elite,
Filling the divide with Government programs,
Doing better than the US for the low income.
Chapter Five: Policy
Options, Implementation Solutions
This chapter discusses some of the main policy options for closing the
digital divide, and offers real-world solutions. After critiquing some
of the problems with many US and international approaches to develop
both broad national policies (or fail to) and/or encourage community-based
approaches, the authors discuss their own approach which includes a
comprehensive strategy to bring together solutions that integrate training,
technology, high quality content and motivation to learn. After discussing
how a Free Market, Government Driven, Philanthropy or Community Action
Option fall short because they omit one or more important elements that
could help make a complete and sustainable solution possible, the authors
showcase examples of "best practices" from their pioneering survey of
world leaders, opinion shapers and program managers.
Chapter 6: Digital Divide
is Digital Opportunity
This chapter shows how the Digital Divide presents a unique opportunity
for countries, states, localities, school districts and their visionary
leaders. Historically, as we have moved from one major transformation
to the next, whether it be from the Agrarian to the Industrial, or from
the Industrial to the Information, specific groups in society gain (typically
the disadvantaged or lagging segments of the society) a unique historic
opportunity to leapfrog into the first world in a short time, a few
years, in stead of going through the decades-long evolutionary process.
Political and education leaders especially have a rare historic opportunity
to bring their constituents into the first world by becoming visionary
leaders bold enough to set goals, find the resources and plan and implement
student/adult-focused, outcome-based, integrated total solution programs.
The chapter spotlights the work the authors are committed to through
their non-profit organization,CyberLearning,
to provide access to all learners anywhere, any educational level or
anytime . They discuss their current project to build a world class
on-line university that would help anyone, from whatever background
and age group, to gain the skills needed to prepare for entry into undergraduate
or graduate education or employment in IT fields.
Included in the book is the largest set of on-line and printed digital
divide resources in the world, indexed and therefore made much more
accessible by most common categories such as race, gender, nationality
and issue type.This appendix also contains the results of a pioneering
survey of world leaders as well as other national, regional and local
opinion and operational leaders. It is anticipated to be a valuable
resource for researchers, teachers, community activists and policymakers
involved with the digital divide.