NECC 2008 – From digital divide to digital opportunities

RestaHere are my notes from ISTE’s annual digital equity summit at NECC. There is too much information to fit in one post so I’m breaking it up…

From Digital Divide to Digital Opportunities
Dr. Paul Resta, U. Texas-Austin

  • Current estimate of world repository of pictures/words/movies = 7 exabytes (Library of Congress is largest in world = 20 terabytes)
  • It’s not just more information. More is now different.
  • UNESCO Digital Opportunity Index allows the tracking and comparison of countries in different aspects of the information society
  • Essential conditions – access to…
    • Basic literacy skills
      • 26% of world adult population (1 billion people) is non-literate (2/3 are women)
    • ICT devices, software, and sufficient bandwidth for Internet connectivity
      • Most of Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East has less than 10% of the population with personal computers
      • High-income economies are far ahead (International Telecommunications Union, World Information Society 2007 Report)
      • The top 1,000 companies in the world have over 70 million computers to dispose of
      • Low-cost laptops: OLPC (600,000 orders from Birmingham (AL), Peru, Haiti, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Mexico, Uruguay, Mongolia), EeePC, Intel Classmate (150,000 orders from Nigeria, Libya)
      • Cloud computing (virtual servers) means not much power has to reside on the computers themselves
      • Asia and Europe both have more Internet users than North America; a near-perfect relationship between Internet use and income
      • Broadband access takes up 2.1% of high-income (and 909% of low-income) yearly wages
      • USA is now 15th in broadband penetration (see
      • Wireless access is increasing exponentially in many developing countries
    • Meaningful, high-quality, culturally-relevant content in local languages
      • 68% of Internet content is in English; next highest is Japanese (6%)
      • 4Directions project is an indigenous model of education to create culturally-relevant curriculum resources
      • Virtual museum partnerships
    • Creating, sharing, and exchanging digital content
      • The majority of the 7 billion videos streamed on the Internet each month are user-generated
      • The number of blogs has roughly doubled every 6 months
      • We need to enable indigenous voices and to use the Internat to foster cross-cultural understandings and share knowledge
    • Educators who know how to use digital tools and resources in pedagogically-sound, culturally-responsible ways
    • Effective leadership in policy and planning
      • Removing policy barriers and formulating new policy frameworks
      • Broadband challenges require new thinking
  • There is a need for ICTs customized to the needs of the poor in the developing world
  • How do we ensure that the USA stays competitive?
  • What is our role as educators to help address the global digital divide?
  • From the Digital Divide to Digital Opportunities

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