The Technological Underclass
The internet has become such a ubiquitous part of modern life that most of us probably take it for granted. The scope of modern web development and application development means that just about any task can be accomplished online, and the next generation will have grown up with this approach to information gathering, communication and socialising as second nature. But what about families who can’t afford to make computer and smartphone technology readily available to their children? There’s a real danger that an underclass of such youngsters will emerge, disadvantaging millions in an increasingly tech-oriented world.
Application development and the online experience
Estimates suggest that around 2-3 million children have no access to the internet at home (source: the e-Learning Foundation) and the fear is that they could be left behind their peers, with a limited range of experience and expertise in using computers and the internet in general. Certainly when you factor in handheld devices (as of January this year, around 2.8 million children had their own internet-enabled smartphones), the gap could potentially become a real problem, severely damaging the prospects of children from poorer backgrounds. And it’s not just the potential gains in education to consider: aspects like social networking, smartphone applications and shared online experiences are becoming so common that any child not able to get involved could easily be left behind.
Web development for online learning – how a design agency can help
Technology in education is certainly on the agenda for the government, however. Many countries have already embraced tablets and smartphones in the classroom, and the feeling amongst experts is that the UK will need to move in the same direction to ensure that our children can keep up. Any digital design agency
should take note, as online learning materials, multimedia teaching methods and other new ways to access information online will offer children a potentially very effective way to learn. One school in Kent last year became the first in the country to give each of its pupils an iPad, and since then a number of institutions have followed suit. A significant future direction for web development
may involve finding the best ways for a digital design agency
to tap into this market and create a range of resources to best utilise the available technology.
No child left behind
The challenge then is to ensure that no child is expected to enter a school environment and be disadvantaged because he or she has a more limited experience of technology than the rest of the children. In 2010 the government announced plans to invest £300milion in providing broadband for low-income families with children aged 7-14, and when you consider that a report in the same year suggested that lack of internet access at home contributed to a developmental gap of around 11 months in some children, this is certainly a step in the right direction. Application development
can create great educational tools and contribute a lot to the future of e-Learning, but we need to ensure that all children are equipped to take advantage, not just the lucky ones.
And Another Thing...
on the 5th September 2012 by alight