Dr. David Parsons, Associate Professor Information Technology at Massey University, is preparing a paper investigating the BYOD initiative at Orewa College to integrate one-to-one ICTs into the learning process. He explains the digital divide is not only about access but about how devices are used. Bringing devices into the classroom is a complete paradigm shift. It means planning how the devices are embedded into the classroom and what that means in terms of:
We’re facing a situation where schools have to in some way embrace the changes that are going on in technology, in society, and in teaching and learning. And of course there’s no one right path so every school is really trying to enter a world where we don’t know what the right answer is. We have a particular interest in this in terms of thinking about what the digital divide really means because digital divide isn’t just about access.
So we have to think about the fact that there is digital divide already and it’s partly to do with what students may already be accessing or not and it’s also to do with the way that they may use the devices they may have or not have available. So there’s lots of ways in which it’s not just a matter of do they have a device or not. It’s not just a matter of what sort of device do they have but perhaps the most important thing is how do we use the resources that are available either through what students have, or what the school has, or what peers and friends, and other families have so there are many interesting angles that we can look at to try and see how we can make these devices really work for us in the school, at home, over a long period of time.
The important thing with bringing devices into the classroom like this is it’s a complete paradigm shift so it’s not about just saying let’s put some devices in a classroom. This is the approach we took ten, fifteen years ago and that works up to a point. It provides some opportunities for digital literacy. It provides some opportunities for episodic experiences with IT but that’s not about transforming education.
What we’re trying to do these days is think about how the devices that are embedded in our daily lives actually can transform education completely and of course that means that we have to think not just about well what’s the device or what’s the software that’s going to run on it but what does it mean for teaching? What does it mean for the teacher? What does it mean for the relationships between teachers and students, between students and students? Because, it’s a complete mind shift really. It’s not just about using say one application to do one thing it’s about trying to integrate contemporary technology into the e-learning experience. Because of course that’s the technology these students will be living with when they leave school and get their careers and throughout their whole futures.