The world has already been changed by digital technology and has accelerated towards an educational transformation. For many marginalized children around the world, connectivity can change everything by giving them access to a plethora of learning that was traditionally impossible. However, the lack of access to digital technology for millions of children is quickly becoming the new dividing line: the digital divide.
The global pandemic has caused a sudden shift away from the classroom in many parts of the world, which has fueled the adoption of e-learning and continues to persist in the post-pandemic era. This change has impacted the global education market with enormous consequences in developing countries. The pandemic has highlighted the need to integrate digital learning for every child so that no one is left behind. Research has shown that the pandemic has caused a mindset shift among parents. They have started to recognize and embrace digital learning which was previously only seen as an additional engagement. Moreover, with the adoption of digital platforms by public schools, especially WhatsApp, they began to believe that it could also be used for academic learning.
The pandemic has also exposed existing economic inequalities in digital divides. More importantly than ever, it magnified the benefits of children from well-to-do households while denying opportunities to underprivileged and underprivileged children.
The situation has also reinforced systematic discrimination against women which leads to unequal access to ICTs and is fundamentally linked to the problem of gender inequality at its root. The worsening of the digital divide negatively affects the marginalized population such as children with disabilities. Additionally, it is evident that women with disabilities have disproportionate access and are often digitally excluded. The lack of accessible assistive technologies and inclusive digital design only widens the existing gap.
Possible changes through digital learning for low-income communities
- Initiate empowering and engaging learning through technology: PProviding historically disadvantaged children with access to high-quality learning resources, knowledge, individualized learning, and tools for planning future education can boost their potential. Digital learning also increases the power of comprehension and retention, with varied learning formats. Additionally, less experienced learners can access and engage hands-on in technology-enabled learning environments.
- Reimagine teaching in a better way: Teachers have the opportunity to increase collaboration and learn outside of the classroom through technology. Additionally, tools such as video conferencing, online chats, and social media sites allow educators from all parts of the country to connect and collaborate with experts and peers internationally to form communities. online learning. The potential for educators to choose and use technology in ways that align with their students’ interests to achieve their learning goals is nearly endless.
- Create a culture and conditions for innovation: Technology enables the deployment and integration of innovative ways of learning. It helps educators think beyond traditional teaching norms and connect better with their students. However, it should be noted that using technology for innovative education requires adequate skills and interest. Thus, it is crucial to initiate capacity building programs to develop educators.
- Efficient measurement for learning and monitoringg: To properly prepare children for college and the job market, teachers need to assess student understanding, and parents, students, and leaders need to be aware of overall student performance. Technology-based test administration can reduce time, resources, and interruption of learning, in addition to promoting learning in all subject areas. Technology-enabled exams can also give educators a more complete and nuanced view of student needs, interests, and skills, allowing them to tailor instruction to each student.
While digital cannot replace academic learning in the early years, social interaction and physical play being developmentally essential, it can complement learning, especially at home. It’s time to envision and build an inclusive digital learning community by taking the necessary steps. There are a few areas that need immediate attention in order to take advantage of the transition.
First, to close the gender gap in the digital divide, special emphasis needs to be placed on female students in order to bring their use closer to or equalize that of male students. It is important to ensure the digital inclusion of young girls and women in India by integrating digital literacy into the school curriculum and implementing digital literacy programs for women and girls at all levels.
Second, there is a need to address language issues that arise due to the diversity of the Indian population that speaks various languages. Adapting to differences can strengthen the digital transition and greatly broaden its impact.
Third, emphasis must also be placed on improving access to connectivity, devices and trained staff to help hold hands in village service centers, schools and hospitals. In addition, there is also a need to install large-scale, cost-effective solutions suitable for rural environments.
Finally, the construction of community-owned and managed resource centers across the country with computers and printers would enable girls from poor and disadvantaged families to continue their education and bridge the digital divide.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
END OF ARTICLE