Digital Divide

 

From Digital Divide To Digital Opportunity
by 

Dr. Appu Kuttan and Dr. Laurence Peters

To Order the Book:

Call  Publisher, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. at

Phone:  1-800-462-6420

Fax: 717-794-3803

http://www.rowman.com

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 voices'."
-- Chris Dede, Harvard University Timothy E. Wirth Professor of Learning Technologies

"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

From Digital Divide To Digital Opportunity

Dr. Appu Kuttan 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 .

Dr. Laurence Peters 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.

Book Summary

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.

Chapter 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 and women.

Chapter 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.

Chapter 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.

Chapter 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:

  • Africa: The land that the Internet forgot,
  • Asia: Can a few bright stars light up a dark sky?,
  • The European Union: The North/South Divide,
  • Eastern Europe: Where to begin ... again,
  • Latin America:Putting the "E" in Elite, 
  • Australia: Filling the divide with Government programs,
  • Canada: 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.