Participation refers to students engaging with and using technology to achieve curriculum outcomes and participate in the digital world. The digital divide refers to the gap between what parents can afford for their child and what the child needs to participate fully. It is an expectation of students, parents, teachers, employers, government and the wider community that students are digital participating and schools’ are bridging the digital divide (Howell, 2014). This influences teachers’ pedagogy and the digital focus in curriculum to ensure digital fluency is achieved by all students.
Firstly, to fully understand the importance of participation teachers must appreciate the role it plays in empowering student to learn for the future. Charleson (2012) states access to digital technology and mastery of digital networking and communication are empowering. In today’s world a high priority is placed on being digitally capable and lifelong learning which is fuelled by having access to technology. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) (2015) agrees, “to be empowered within a technologically sophisticated society…students need the knowledge, skills and confidence to make ICT work for them”, which occurs through participation. The impact this has on teaching pedagogy is how teachers select and use technologies for teaching and learning. For example, a teacher who asks students to use a simple program such as word processing for to create a final draft will not be using technology to empower where as a teacher asking students to communicate their work to the wider community by creating a blog will be allowing the students to actively participate in the digital world.
Secondly, to enable all students to participate in the digital word it is important to bridge the digital divide. The responsibility to bridge the divide and empower students to participate is placed largely on schools (Howell, 2014) (Hague, Williamson, & Futurelab, 2009). Schools need to provide students with both the devices and knowledge for living and learning in a digital world.
In reflection, the need for students to authentically participate and have access to technology impacts on pedagogy adopted by teachers and schools and the life-long learning required to keep up with changing technology which students may wish to use in the classroom regardless of their home situation.
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Bentley, P. (2014, July 3). Lack of affordable broadband creating ‘digital divide’. ABC News. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-02/bridging-the-digital-divide/5566644
Howell, J. (2014). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration and creativity. South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2015). Information and communication technology (ICT) capability. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/information-and-communication-technology-capability/introduction/introduction
Charleson, D, M. (2012). Bridging the digital divide: Enhancing empowerment and social capital. Journal of Social Inclusion, 3(2), 6-19.
Gould, E. (2015). Digital Divide [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.laneterralever.com/digital-divide-fact-or-fiction/
Hague, C., Williamson, B., Futurelab. (2009). Digital participation, digital literacy, and school subjects [Fact sheet]. Retrieved from http://www2.futurelab.org.uk/resources/documents/lit_reviews/DigitalParticipation.pdf
Howell, J. (2014). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration and creativity. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.