back to article Technology has the potential to close the education divide. Key word: Potential

Welcome to the latest Register Debate in which writers discuss technology topics, and you – the reader – choose the winning argument. The format is simple: we propose a motion, the arguments for the motion will run this Monday and Wednesday, and the arguments against on Tuesday and Thursday. During the week you can cast your …

  1. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Other harms as well

    "Harm arising from online technology comes from the actions of those on it, rather than the technology itself"

    Quite a large number of folks in the UK don't have access to an adequate broadband connection so they're denied services and even have difficulty fulfilling their legal obligations (statutory returns etc. now increasingly "online only").

    There's also the "disintermediation" harm - even for those with potential access, failure to keep up with ever changing (and often needlessly changing) technologies locks people out of services previously available to them, forcing further expenditure, which is of course commonly the prime vendor motivation for the change.

    Not everyone is in a position to replace at their own expense equipment that still works perfectly well but has been rendered obsolete by creation of often artificial incompatibilities. However when this is mentioned in public one usually gets slated for being a "Luddite". It's worth remembering that the Luddites only broke machines that directly threatened their livelihoods - to the extent that they generally left adjacent machines on the same factory floor that didn't threaten their livelihoods unharmed.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Other harms as well

      And, having access, most don't understand security and the necessity to keep devices patched and up-to-date, in order to combat the daily threats they encounter online.

      Just yesterday, I installed updates on our iPads and my wife turned to me 20 minutes later and asked if she should install the suggested update on her Android phone...

      It is a never ending battle and "normal" people who don't care about technology and just want to get on with their lives either ignore the threats or are so hacked off by the constant security prompts that they want to throw the tech out the window!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First thing for me - what is the educational divide? Is it access to information, access to opportunity or access to good teachers?

    I would argue that the biggest educational divide is the quality of teaching rather than access to information and I'm massively unconvinced that technology can help bridge that.

    To my mind, the key to all success in education is teachers. They are the key element in good education. If the teacher is bad, no amount of technology will fix it. If the teacher is good, technology will (might) be largely irrelevant.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      > what is the educational divide?

      My personal view is that it is largely family background. If your father is, say, an engineer and has tons of books, this is a huge advantage against coming from a family where the only printed matter is the daily mail.

      Nowadays with the internet offering all information for everybody one may think that the above is much less important. I'd argue this is not the case: kids still need guidance in order to find/pick useful stuff and not just sink in a torrent of crap.

      > To my mind, the key to all success in education is teachers.

      Yes, a thousand times. As far as I know this is the *only* parameter that significantly determines learning success. There is a current thought in Germany (and surely elsewhere as well) that if teaching becomes "digital" (whatever this means) everything magically gets better. Whenever I hear this, I really want to slap someone in the face.

      1. parlei

        I have seen data (from Sweden) that supports your first *and* second contention. The strongest predictor for success in school/academia is parents education (IIRC more the mother than father: probably reflecting unequal time spent with the children). But well trained teachers (from day-care/kindergarten and onwards) is just about the only thing that can even begin compensating for that. Reflecting this latter insight Sweden has implemented a school system where for-profit school corporations can hire teachers with no or little training, "select" the easiest students[1] and then give them artificially high grades to ensure university entry. No, of course I'm not bitter, what on earth gave you that idea?

        The Internet has the potential to deliver well written and researched texts and videos on a variety of subjects and to point the reader to be most high quality ones. Instead we mostly got FB and YT.

        [1] The messaging says that here we are able to do the work with no assistance, and wording that codes away the poor. Also waiting lists, since mainly certain groups of parents will put their child on such lists early.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Germany is incredibly slow to go digital. I still see the kids on the train in the morning doing their homework in exercise books and using reference books.

        There is a fund to "digitse" schools, but that is very slow, haphazard and not very well coordinated. Even with the pandemic, many schools just don't have access to technology. The Bund (federal government) has set aside several billion for the digitalisation of schools, but that is a state prerogative. That means that the schools can't simply dip into the fund, they have to go through the state and most states haven't worked out what they are doing yet.

        Some want to use Google or Microsoft services, even though both would not be GDPR compliant, so cannot be used. Some want to issue laptops and some iPads. Some are using open source platforms, like Big Blue Button for conferencing, others Teams and Zoom, even though they aren't compliant.

        The schools don't have Wi-Fi or cabled network access for the most part. The teachers are often just given a laptop and told to get on with it. Many have no idea what they are supposed to be doing, because they have had no training, yet they are supposed to set up online classes and make material available, whilst at the same time ensuring the class is secure. There is some money (see above) for infrastructure, but little to no money for administration of the tech.

        Then there are the pupils at home without any resources, no laptop, no tablet, or have PC, that doesn't have a camera and microphone. Then there is the broadband situation. Both parents in home office, plus 3 kids on a 10mbps line all having to work at the same time... If they even have broadband available, which isn't a given.

        A lot of teachers are anti-online learning, as are a lot of students. Studies have shown that the average reading and comprehension level has dropped dramatically (25%, I think) over the last year. Social interactions are the biggest problem, with children growing up not knowing how to play with each other or how to share things.

        Digital learning is all well and good, but it is an adjunct to "real" learning. Social skills, learning to be with other people, learning to cope with face-to-face situations etc. Learning to read out loud, in front of people - the digital solutions provide ways for the shy pupil to talk directly with the teacher, without the others listening. This might help somewhat with their reading level, but it is an appauling step backwards for their social skills and "getting out of their skin".

        I was very shy and hated having to stand up and read or give answers. But it is something I learnt to overcome and that helped going forward in life, where I suddenly had to stand at the front of a room full of managers and give presentations, or a hall full of people giving a lecture or doing a Q&A with them. I still find that scary and difficult, but without the valuable lessons I learnt in school, I'd have be even worse off.

        1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Your description is entirely accurate.

          Here is a detail I'd like to add: we tend to over-plan everything and end up doing nothing or at least being terribly late to implement.

          Covid-19 did change that in a way, things had to be implemented right away, basically no matter how. At Unis (I work at one) you got a license for Teams and Zoom and you had to start right there. I was lucky because I could emulate my usual style pretty well. Others (interestingly many who used a much more "multi media" approach) were essentially out of luck, some lecture simply did not happen.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "I suddenly had to stand at the front of a room full of managers and give presentations, or a hall full of people giving a lecture or doing a Q&A with them."

          Don't forget having to pitch a direction of study for a graduate degree or funding for same.

          In-person learning is important. A good teacher can look out at a class and tell by blank stares and the body language of the students that the material is missing the mark and make adjustments. Without that feedback, they can lose the whole class really fast. It's also good for younger students to do the mechanics of writing and teachers have the possibility of writing some comments somewhere there is some free space on the page. That also feels more friendly than a commented text file. A benefit to the teacher is they can do their grading just about anywhere. If they are sat waiting someplace, they can pull out the folder and do some marking. No power or internet needed.

          Not everybody is going to ever get over stage fright. The most bashful may find having to stand up and deliver their answers in front of class might be traumatizing and make school pure torture. We can hope that the pandemic winds down soon and students and staff can remain healthy in the classroom once again. For those kids that can get over being afraid to speak in large groups, it would be good they are given the push. Frankly, the ones that have no problem are hard to get to shut up.

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        >...this is a huge advantage against coming from a family where the only printed matter is the daily mail.

        Nowadays with the internet offering all information for everybody one may think that the above is much less important. I'd argue this is not the case...

        With everything moving online, I suspect there has been a degree of levelling down.

        In my family we had one of the broadsheets delivered daily, once dad had left for work, it was available for everyone else to read. Now with the same content typically being behind a paywall on "dad's" device, such information access is much harder.

        To facilitate access to such material and to other subscription services (Player, Prime, Netflix etc.), I setup a family account "no password" necessary !!!

        So I would add "access to (typically subscription) services" as a third fundamental issue.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          I've been living abroad for a couple of decades now. But what I find astounding is the apparent move down market of the papers, from what I remember them as.

          As I grew up, my parents read the Express and my grandmother the Mail. As a child in the 70s and 80s, they both seemed "normal" to me. Not especially controversial, reported "sanely" and, whilst not up there with the Time and Telegraph, they were fairly respectable.

          When I look at the headlines from them posted on social media these days, it seems they've tried to position themselves as downmarket versions of what the Sun and Star were, when I was a teenager.

    2. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

      The biggest educational divide is the family attitude towards education.

      Good schools are not good because they have good teachers or a lot of money. They are good because they are located in areas where parents believe that education is useful and care about helping their children to get it.

      1. Usually 1027309

        Having engaged parents who take part in the learning journey is a key contributing factor to the success of a child's play education, however, IMO not as important as the Schools leadership and the teachers.

        Systems exist to try and connect teachers to parents and allow parents to engage in the curriculum, however, it's only used by parents who are already engaged. No amount of tech is gonna convince a parent with the mindset of "teaching my kid is your job, that's why I pay taxes" to help teach them new skills.

        Having great teachers makes a huge difference, problem is they are more expensive. So if you have a School who can bring in more income (PTA, grants,pupil premium, letting premises e.t.c), they can get the better teachers too.... So money does play a part (which is sad)

        1. tojb

          "learning journey" sheesh. Agree though, you can really tell the difference between a teacher who has a plan to instill key knowledge and one who is winging it and/or filling the time with platitudes and empty verbiage. Home lessons on zoom were abject sometimes.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "So money does play a part (which is sad)"

          So goeth the rest of the world. Companies with access to capital will grow faster. People with higher incomes will live in safer neighborhoods.

          My aunt taught school in an area that was predominately of an ethnic group that placed little value on education. She did her best but told me that even if the school had 20x the budget, it would make little difference. On the other hand, she had colleagues that taught in schools where the student's cultural background did place a high value on education and the students did far better. The schools were also able to spend more money on improvements rather than repairing vandalism. It can be very expensive to paint over rude words applied to a number of walls with the paint that has gone through all of the approvals to be used at a school.

    3. keithpeter Silver badge
      Windows

      "I would argue that the biggest educational divide is the quality of teaching rather than access to information and I'm massively unconvinced that technology can help bridge that."

      I agree that access to information is less of an issue now than it was (say) 25 years or 50 years ago. I would however respond to your focus on quality of teaching by asking the following questions...

      1) How do you measure 'quality of teaching'?

      2) What proportion of all the learning that you have done in your life up to now occurred in a formal setting?

      3) Is there in fact an 'educational divide' with the expectation of remediation of the divide? Could we be seeing instead the usual process in the UK for allocating access to desirable jobs operating as designed?

      My own take: School performance depends mainly on resources and management. There is a threshold of performance in teaching that is 'good enough' and the response curve flattens noticeably after that point is reached. The half million teachers in England/Wales will inevitably include some who are 'phoning it in', quite possibly because of events in their lives or illness. Exactly the same as social care staff, nurses, police officers and aeroplane pilots. Those issues need to be (and can be) managed.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "1) How do you measure 'quality of teaching'?"

        Going by testing alone won't work. Some teachers/schools/districts will teach to the test. It's not hard to see which teachers are the most popular and if exam results are also good, that's a decent marker for a good teacher. If the teachers that get those students the next year are also happy with the level the students have risen to, that's also a good sign. If a chemistry teacher has more than an average amount of kids that sign up for optional second or third year course, that's a bonus. I would assume that the teacher will require a passing grade in the first year to move on.

        The bar needs to be set high enough as well. If the requirements for the year are not that challenging, exam scores and teacher popularity aren't worth much.

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "I would argue that the biggest educational divide is the quality of teaching rather than access to information and I'm massively unconvinced that technology can help bridge that."

      It's also a problem of sabotaging good teachers with mandates that make little sense formulated by administrators that have never headed up a classroom.

      A further problem is springing the mandates at the last minute so there is no time to develop lesson plans that make the most use of something or make any use of it at all. I remember that when I was in school. The computer lessons were just the same sorts of things we were doing in class except they were being done on a slow computer the teachers had no expertise in. If anything went sideways, that was it for the day until somebody could be sent around to troubleshoot the problem. The teachers would get paranoid about making the problem worse so they wouldn't want to touch anything such as the return key or power cycling the server.

      The material being presented in early years is very basic so there is little need to access the web for more information. Having a text book and supplemental handouts is more than adequate. It's the last 3-4 years of school where a computer with internet access is more useful and since the kids are older, they will have more options to go some place where they could use one if they don't have one at home. I used to use the media lab at the local college a lot when I was in middle school. As long as there were plenty of stations, they didn't care that I was there if I was doing work. An older cousin taught me how to use the lab when she got lumbered with babysitting and needed to do her own homework from the college. During the pandemic, some kids have sat themselves outside of a closed library to borrow some internet with a tablet or laptop donated from a company upgrading their fleet.

  3. Chris G Silver badge

    Quieter kids can speak up in chat,

    As someone who was a 'quieter kid' at school, I disagree with this generalisation and think it brings into question other aspects of the argument.

    Even today, taking part in an online chat I often don't bother to join in, particularly when comments are coming at a pace as anything I might say goes upscreen rapidly and may well get lost in the noise. That is no different in effect to being a small voice in a classroom, drowned out by those who are louder and/or more confident.

    Another example that demonstrates a need for thinking it through more thoroughly, is the statement about having an international chat with his students and those wth poorer English using chat.

    The fact that the students are there makes it evident that they have an interest and are engaged in the discourse.

    I am sure that technology has a lot to offer education, it would be absurd to think it hasn't but it is not and will not be a full substitute for in person classes with a teacher at the head of the class.

    My cousins, three of them, way back were educated by radio, living on a bazillion acre cattle station in the Northern Territory of Oz, the nearest school was a plane flight away or an expedition through the desert.

    They struggled to get to uni' but did it because they were motivated and had parents who helped, without that motivation and family support I don't see distance learning working well on a long term basis for many students.

    1. tfewster Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Quieter kids can speak up in chat,

      I don't think either the for or against arguments focused on the main use case, children with internet access but poor self discipline (most of them, IMHO!). So neither argument swayed my opinion.

      - Offline work packs or self-paced learning won't work with most kids unless they're supervised. They're a poor stopgap until the student can get connected.

      - The anecdote about some (highly motivated) Masters students finding online classrooms better than face-to-face was interesting, but probably doesn't map to younger students and larger classes.

      I think the education system has done the best it could in the pandemic. Most Teachers have adapted amazingly well to be key workers & childminders and deliver multiple lesson formats. Let's applaud and reward them for that, while recognising the lasting damage COVID-19 has had on all sectors.

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Quieter kids can speak up in chat,

        I had a couple of students preferring online lectures because they were not disturbed by random talk of the other students.

      2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: Quieter kids can speak up in chat,

        In my household we're lucky enough to have a few spare laptops for the kids to work on but whilst the eldest got on well with it. The youngest struggled, mainly because neither myself or my wife was constantly available to help.

        Having willing parents is fine, but attempting to have the kids engaged and doing classwork over the daytime instead of the evening was a huge struggle.

        This debate doesn't take into account that some parents still worked over Lockdown which made supervision of the kids difficult to put it mildly (my daily average for meetings is 4+ hours a day. The wife wasn't even in the house since she's a dentist).

        Thankfully we were lucky enough to have keyworker status for my wife and after explaining my own work situation the school did take them in when allowed. I'm also aware not everyone had this available to them.

        It does however make for an interesting point, has there been any research yet over which has benefitted children the most? Being in school, being at home with both parents working or having one or two parents furloughed? Did access to tech change any of that?

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Quieter kids can speak up in chat,

      I imagine speaking up in chat works just as well for kids in education as it does in the Teams/Zoom meetings that we all have to suffer daily.

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Quieter kids can speak up in chat,

      At Uni we had lectures of 60+ and there was no way you could ask any questions without disrupting the whole thing. I found borrowing a mates notes far more educational than just copying what the lecturer said and a lot faster too. My major problem was access to material and only very occasional lecturers. My eldest is going up tomorrow and I suggested a visit to the library to get the course text books (having seen one of my lecturers take all the copies of his book from the library 2 weeks before term started) but it appears everything will be available online. It doesnt take much to organise accessible HTML course work that can be read using a phone or tablet and open document licences and some analysis of what may or may not work for the vast majority of the population to be able to access the best educational information available.

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

        Re: Quieter kids can speak up in chat,

        > At Uni we had lectures of 60+ and there was no way you could ask any questions without disrupting the whole thing.

        IMO a good lecturer should regularly ask for questions. The number of students is not that much of a problem in my experience. I never had more than 100 students in a lecture, though.

        Getting no feedback from students tends to make me slightly nervous and I will ask whether the lecture was OK at the end.

        > having seen one of my lecturers take all the copies of his book from the library 2 weeks before term started

        Wow, that is completely unacceptable.

        1. keithpeter Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Quieter kids can speak up in chat,

          "Getting no feedback from students tends to make me slightly nervous and I will ask whether the lecture was OK at the end."

          https://www.k58.uk/oldblog/ilt-ideas/interaction-in-large-classes/index.html

          Oldie but a goodie and low risk (doesn't take much time in a 1 hour lecture, if students don't like it you can move quickly on)...

          TDLR: Put a slide up with a slightly subtle multiple choice question (must be mutually exclusive answers though). Students must hold up a card with their response. Rough stats will give you an idea about understanding level in group. Second stage: get students with different responses sitting near each other to talk it out until they get consensus.

          More like this...

          https://phil-race.co.uk/downloads/

          (Phil kept 70+ teachers from University/FE Colleges going for 6 hours with a lunch break one day just using a projector with ppt slides. Was very good. Hint: powerpoint was in authoring mode the whole time with comments going onto text objects)

          1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

            Re: Quieter kids can speak up in chat,

            Thanks for the links. Have you ever tried "democratic mathematics"? That is, having a vote whether a statement is true or false. Optional: let students discuss, then take votes again. Can be mildly entertaining for everybody involved.

            1. keithpeter Silver badge
              Windows

              Re: Quieter kids can speak up in chat,

              Yup at a level appropriate to the basic mathematics I teach that is one I've used, especially hilarious with anything to do with probability or stats. I use MCQs with students divided into small groups. Each group has to agree on a response and be prepared to explain why they think that is the correct response. All good interaction builders.

              UK A level exams some decades ago had really evil 'assertion - implication' questions. You had two statements (say 1 and 2) then you had to decide if 1 implied 2 or if 2 implied 1 or if there was a double implication or if there was no implication at all.

    4. keithpeter Silver badge

      Re: Quieter kids can speak up in chat,

      "Even today, taking part in an online chat I often don't bother to join in, particularly when comments are coming at a pace as anything I might say goes up-screen rapidly and may well get lost in the noise."

      Silence can be very powerful (and easily noticed) in an actual physical classroom. It is much harder to track online in my experience of both settings.

      I use pretty well-known strategies for getting everyone to comment or say their piece (without direct targetting in front of the whole class). I suspect but cannot confirm that the post a level up from yours meant that 'quieter kids' have a side channel to communicate with the teacher directly.

    5. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Quieter kids can speak up in chat,

      I agree totally. I was a "quiet one". I learn to speak out and I was a guest lecturer at a German university and I've given talks at exhibitions and at customers' sites to full rooms. But it is never easy. But having the social interactions in school was a very important part of overcoming some of that shyness.

      If I am taking part in a meeting, I am often very quiet and give little input, if I don't have to. In fact, because of the lack of social cues when being in an online meeting, combined with lag, the moment is often gone, where I could have said something, the topic has moved on and the comment would no longer be appropriate or would throw other people off, because the topic has changed.

    6. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Quieter kids can speak up in chat,

      "My cousins, three of them, way back were educated by radio, living on a bazillion acre cattle station in the Northern Territory of Oz, the nearest school was a plane flight away or an expedition through the desert."

      I never heard of going to school by radio. That's awesome. It shouldn't be too hard if they get class materials mailed to them and the parents make sure things are handed out when it's time and tests are proctored.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Keven E
    Holmes

    Just both the facts, Ma'am

    It seems quite clear that the divide is growing.... and, that is sad as I believe it does have the "potential". Both are true.

    It also seems as if the *original Yes or No question isn't what ElReg (Sponsored by Lenovo.) are actually asking to vote on: "Technology widens the education divide - Yes or No?"

    How could one answer this question if what they see is that it IS widening the tech divide but really shouldn't have to?

    If the question is "Is some technology inherently designed to divide?" My answer is *yes.

    ******

    Personally I believe the suggestion that social policy (under the guides/guise of politicians) has the potential to fix this is errant... even as I like to be an optimist. Technology is / has been quite obviously tied to economics. If you feel there's a chance / you have a plan to fix the haves-vs-have-nots struggle, perhaps you can fan the flames of my optimism.

    Don't ask me if there is a potential for the answer to be "no".

  6. Roger Greenwood

    No silver bullet

    No single solution is going to 'fix' education, but it could be a part of it. I have been inspired by many teachers and learnt much from the really bad ones. I wish it had been possible to record those and let other generations experience some lessons/lectures from the 1970's to 90's in my case.

    But there is also no substitute for a real world interaction some of the time. I recently joined 2 very different online meetings, both just local club/members only events, both of about 30 people. One was run as a lecture i.e. sit and listen, very limited interaction, Q&A at the end. The other was a short lecture followed by a discusion where every participant was asked for their opinion, short or long. Both had a chair to keep control and both met the requirements of the organisers. But the one where we were asked individually was more enjoyable, we got to hear all sides, no one was excluded. That would be scary for some the first time, but that's what happens in class (or at least it should) and could probably not be done any way other than with a good teacher/leader.

    How about we vote for our favourite teacher and they get paid accordingly? The catch is you can only vote at least 20 years after you leave school (Mr Duckworth, Physics, 1975.... :-).

    1. hoola Silver badge

      Re: No silver bullet

      Interesting and a similar experience from a marginally earlier timeframe.

      There is this obsession that making things "digital" also makes them better, Now there is no arguing that technology does have its place however that is only as one of the many tools available.

      Just putting teaching "online" does nothing to improve the content and in many ways makes it worse. IN my view the real danger is that the more teaching that is done digitally (Presentations, videos etc) the less people challenge all the crap that is on the Internet.

      There are some subjects that can work better digitally that others. Now health and safety has done a lot to change how education is delivered in things like Chemistry and not necessarily for the better. At O levels our Chemistry teacher would regularly do her "bucket chemistry" either in front of the group or out on the field if it was going to be really messy. The same with Physics experiments.

      Then you have the arts & sports subjects that are basically impossible to deliver satisfactorily any other way but in person. Yes you can watch a video but you cannot play instruments in a group online, you cannot play football online.

      So digital has it's place but not at the expense of real teaching.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: No silver bullet

      "But the one where we were asked individually was more enjoyable, we got to hear all sides, no one was excluded. That would be scary for some the first time, but that's what happens in class (or at least it should) and could probably not be done any way other than with a good teacher/leader."

      The age of the audience would be a big variable too. For younger kids, it might be good to present something and look for comprehension right away in short segments and then move on or recover the topic in a different way. Daily homework/drill sheets that aren't especially long can give good feedback. I can remember we had ages to learn long division and then working up to only milliseconds in college to take in and process something. The drinking from the firehouse problem. I'm revisiting that now with some independent study of nuclear physics. I have the lecture classes from UC Berkley and MIT. I don't think I'd want to sit those classes from a cold start on borrowed money at this point. At university I would audit classes that I would take for real later as much as possible to get a look at what was coming. It wasn't always possible, but sometimes I could get the lectures on tape and an old copy of the text book for some light reading. At the very least I'd have a bunch of the nomenclature.

  7. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Technology doesn't help. It can be a tool, but is never a solution by itself.

    Yes, technology makes the divide greater.

    Because there are the ones who can afford it, and the ones who can't.

    Because there are the ones who will have parents sustaining them, encouraging them, helping them, and the ones who won't.

    Because there are the ones who will find technology as a motivator, and the ones who will find technology as a distractor.

    To improve education:

    - free education for all.

    - change the paradigm and adopt an educative way close to the one of Finland.. It works!

  8. geev03

    >I feel there are two fundamental issues here –(i) one of the availability of technology, and (ii) one of assumed knowledge.

    --An example of (i) above"H5P is a free and open-source content collaboration framework based on JavaScript. H5P is an abbreviation for HTML5 Package, and aims to make it easy for everyone to create, share and reuse interactive HTML5 content" ref: Wikipedia.

    -- Hope the following is not an indicator of (ii) above - "Sorry, nothing found on The Register.", Register; "Sorry, there are no results for h5p.",BBC ; " 1 result, updated 7 June 2021", GOV.UK

    "

  9. Rafael #872397

    It's the economy, stupid!

    Technology may help, but a solution to reduce the divide must involve policies and resources *and long-term planning* -- education must be seen as a strategic investment. Just spending money on technology benefits only the sellers of said technology.

    Case in point: some years ago, some cities in Brazil decided to equip public schools with low-cost computers and provide schools with Internet access (which wasn't common at the time). Absolutely no money was earmarked to train teachers, hire tech staff, replace equipment when it inevitably broke, or even prepare a plan for using the resources adequately. Of course, the idea failed, but the money was spent, so the politicians who endorsed the whole boondoggle were happy.

    More recently, due to the pandemic, some public schools (never adequately funded in Brazil) suggested students use their cell phones and provided cheap 4G access. Again, no plan, no tech or any kind of support -- just thrown some technology and hope the users can sort it out.

    Also, remember One Laptop per Child?

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: It's the economy, stupid!

      Also, remember One Laptop per Child?

      A well deserved flop, mainly because it was conceived by a bunch of techies with bizarre idea abut how education should happen. Their insistence, for example, that children sitting round a table should be forced to collaborate on line rather than talking to each other.

      Morals: (1) Even bright people can be hopelessly wrong when they stray from their field - thank you, Professors Laithwaite and Fleischmann (2) Don't listen to Nicholas Negroponte.

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