ICTs in Education: Can Digital Dividend Replace Digital Divide?
WITFOR CONFERENCE Gaborone, Botswana 1 September 2005 ICTs in Education: Can Digital Dividend Replace Digital Divide? By: Sir John Daniel, Paul West (Commonwealth of Learning) Susan D'Antoni (UNESCO-IIEP) and Stamenka Uvalić-Trumbić (UNESCO) // The themes of this WITFOR [World Information Technology Forum] conference include Building the Infrastructure and Education and I shall concentrate on those two themes this morning. My title is ICTs in Education: Can Digital Dividend Replace Digital Divide. This session also highlights collaboration between international intergovernmental organisations. I am giving a practical example of such collaboration because I have prepared this keynote address with three co-authors. // First is Susan D'Antoni of UNESCO's International Institute for Educational Planning. Through the virtual forum that she has organised on virtual universities and similar events that she is planning for the future, Susan is helping to create a global community of practice in online learning. // Stamenka Uvaliæ-Trumbiæ, my former colleague at the UNESCO Secretariat in Paris, heads UNESCO's unit that deals with reform, innovation and quality assurance in higher education. Most recently she has guided the joint work of UNESCO and the OECD on the development of guidelines for the quality assurance of cross-border higher education. // The third co-author is Paul West, a South African colleague at the Commonwealth of Learning who guides our work in knowledge management. One of Paul's objectives is to help people in developing countries use online learning to expand the scope, scale and impact of education and training. For this reason he is particularly interested in discovering how the range of technologies that are used in developing countries can contribute to the learning experience. // The four of us are united by a common aim, which is to promote development through learning. Eradicating the grinding poverty that scars much of our contemporary world is not a simple phenomenon. In many places the notions of information or knowledge societies seem like mirages - or at best realities on the distant horizon. // Specifically we shall focus on online learning, or eLearning, which is currently a major manifestation of ICTs in education. We shall look at government interest in eLearning; barriers to eLearning that require a coordinated response; recommendations for coordination between partners; and what educational leaders can do to promote eLearning. // The fundamental question we shall try to answer appears in our title. Can digital dividend replace digital divide in the developing world? We shall focus particularly on post-secondary education: not because it is the most important level of education but because success there will spread through the education system. So how can we make eLearning a bridge across the digital divide?