Narrowing the Digital Divide Using Educational Multimedia

Narrowing the Digital Divide Using Educational Multimedia




Narrowing the Digital Divide Using Educational Multimedia

In this information age, the internet and the overarching digital spectrum have opened up new frontiers accompanied with their own unique opportunities. In order to exploit said opportunities one has to have access to information communication technologies. Given the disproportionate accessibility of the technology, only a few people benefit at the expense of the larger population. The internet is no longer a luxury that can be ignored, as it is the gateway to knowledge, which empowers individuals to progress up the social stratum. It follows that the digital divide that amplifies pre-existing disparities needs to be breached. However, there are controversies surrounding the definition of the term access. While some theorists propose that it entails availability of technological infrastructure, majority recognize that the physical constructs are only the foundation. Akin to the strategies towards closing developmental chasms, the individuals require education on how to optimize the utility of the infrastructure upon accessing it. The top down approach is proven ineffective, as the beneficiaries have to be active participants in their own liberation. Majority of minority groups pass down their culture through oral traditions making the use of educational multimedia central to closing the digital divide.

In order to breach the digital divide, it is necessary to incorporate the socioeconomic, cultural, and political aspects of information technology. Majority public policies adopted usually reiterate the importance of creating modern technological infrastructure (Criado, Sandoval-Almazan, & Gil-Garcia, 2013). The elite are predisposed to benefit once these expense projects are completed. Technological growth should be not an isolated objective rather a part of the larger developmental growth. For instance equipping laboratories with computers for elementary pupils devoid of schooling their teachers on the corresponding technical skills is futile. When a population is given infrastructure they do not know how to utilize, they end up abandoning it regardless its cost. The governing bodies in the developing world often use these projects as public relation tactics. Increasing the access to infrastructure that boosts connectivity and hardware such as computers does little to create enabling environment for an inclusive technological revolution. In the third world, it appears to be more of an evolution than a revolution when only the strong survive, the rich benefit. Some of the elite are malicious to the extent of constraining technological education efforts to preserve their monopoly of information hence power. The developed and developing worlds have different priorities as regards to eliminating disparities in ICT access. While the former is focusing on strengthening the bandwidth signal and automation of data systems, the latter is attempting to integrate the social variables into technological growth such as electronic literacy and affordability. Regardless, the stage of technological learning curve remains constant. Like socialization process, electronic literacy is a lifelong process given the frequency of innovations and emerging technologies that make their predecessors redundant.

Socioeconomic variables that accompany technology are often negative to the majority of the population in light of prevalent inequalities. For instance, in India has a booming ICT sector that has sprouted multimillionaires and a network of software engineers. The prosperity of the few causes a rise in real estate prices causing the impeding the average Indian’s access to proper housing. The wealth leads to disproportionate development for centered on urban cities often at the expense of rural areas. The presence technological infrastructure is not neutral. It is critical as stimulates application of the technology subsequently social change. With the change come needs such as electronic literacy to facilitate upward socioeconomic mobility. Addressing the need for infrastructure without the corresponding skills of operating it is narrow-minded.

Educational multimedia facilitates the social contextualization of technology. The social context acknowledges the unique relationships in the given area (Olphert & Damodaran, 2013). For technology to align with cultural components of a people, it has to be in a language and context familiar to them. Majority of the online content is written in English with corresponding American cultural references. It follows that minorities have no inspiration to learn. The prevalent writing code accommodates only Roman alphabet marginalizing minorities. The dominant interface designs are culturally irrelevant. Educational multimedia utilizes visuals and audio that the locals can understand. By generating content, which the locales can identify with, their interest in IT is stimulated. Consequently, it opens up a forum where they can air they issues effectively. The cultural differences are addressed to avoid the creation of conflict. In retrospect, the imposition of the capitalistic ideals on communal communities led to identity crisis. These communities that valued cooperation were forced to become competitive. The same folly should not be repeated in disseminating technology. A community must be able to interact within the framework of their value systems adopting foreign concepts only when necessary. To this end, China has strives to regulate its social media content to reflect its cultural and political stand. When breaching the technological gap countries should not blindly emulate everything without criticism. The adoption of technological principle should be selective relative to the need of the community.

Educational multimedia enables social inclusion by facilitating equal participation. The digital interface becomes a level platform where anyone can leverage it (Srinuan, Srinuan, & Bohlin, 2012). Social inclusion attempts to remove the hierarchical barriers inherent in social and political structures. Social inclusion reiterates participation rather than resource sharing. The digital spectrum aims to promote interaction among peers. Learning is bound to happen where the users perceive themselves to own the technology that they are equal stakeholders in the technological revolution. The use of oral traditions enables even the illiterate individual to communicate their message to society. However, it is preferable that one becomes conversant with technology to aid primary participation in the digital platform as opposed to through third parties. The presence of communal Information Communication Technology (ICT) resources devoid of the supporting mechanisms exacerbates the inherent disadvantage the marginalized communities possess. An enduring solution to the digital divide demands transcending the availability of infrastructure. It requires provision of education and training to accompany the presence of hardware and software resources. Multimedia can be an educative tool by increasing the availability of educational content online. Teachers can use educational multimedia to analyze the different learning styles of the locals. The multimedia material should be custom made to the respective demographics’ comprehension capability accompanied by culture specific analogies.

The internet has opened up new communication avenues between demographics that are otherwise geographically heterogeneous. As it facilitates the linkage of marginalized countries to the global economy, the political and socio-cultural implications have to be addressed (Olphert & Damodaran, 2013). This implies that for a given country to utilize the new avenues to voice their concerns and opinions, they have to transcend the passive role of recipients of information and begin generating their own content. The internet is another medium where the struggle for scarce resource continues. The digital continuum is a platform of displaying political power as well as corporate espionage. Conversely, it creates new relationships that facilitate interactions between individuals in opposite ends of the geographical continuum. The interactions help the respective nationalities enlarge their perspective both technologically and socially. Rather than interpreting issues using their limited worldviews, they accommodate differing outlooks and implement the subsequent constructive criticism. To recognize said worldviews the countries should able to leverage the internet. To this end, electronic literacy is required. Meaningful benefit has to arise from the prevalent infrastructure before focusing on additional hardware.

Electronic literacy has progressed beyond the mere utility of the operational aspects of computers such as word processing, internet searching, saving files, and opening folders. The user should posses higher order skills that will help him navigate the digital spectrum via a cultural context (Macleod, 2005). It follows that with a broadening social context of where computers are being used, electronic literacy transcends, computer literacy. It has multiple layers relative to the traditional print literacy. The term is an umbrella for the information literacy, computer mediated literacy, multimedia literacy and computer literacy. Similar to any socialization process electronic media has a learning curve, as enduring transformation is often gradual rather than instantaneous. The role of education as the precursor to understanding in the digital interface cannot be overemphasized. Governments should progress above political rhetoric and implement projects towards electronic literacy to help them build capacity. Computer mediated learning will to give access to quality education to the marginalized communities. Its distance learning potential will aid the spread of general literacy to isolated ends of the globe. However, its success is contingent on the presence of face-to-face tutelage, actual teachers as a support system. Computer mediated learning is effective as a secondary source of information with its core competency being research.

The medium of the said educational multimedia should be improvised for maximum convenience of the learners. Mobile technology has by passed the computer based learning programs furthermore the gadgets are relatively cheaper hence easily accessible. Individuals in developed countries can currently access visual audio materials via innovations such as You Tube. Despite the aforementioned geographical dispersion, social media has enhanced the ability of people to communicate their opinions to society. At the heart of the incessant disruptive innovations is electronic literacy devoid of which the population will be bypassed by multiplicity of its benefits. The educational and government programs should focus on the medium with the most reach. For instance, rather than offline programs attached to the respective computer hardware, the teachers should utilize open source platforms. Similarly, mobile applications are easier to share almost guarantee access to every member of society. Some developing countries have leveraged the mobile technology better than developed countries becoming critical proponents of the technological revolution. For instance, the Eastern African country, Kenya, has become a pioneer in mobile money transactions by passing the credit card age. Similarly, South Korea rose from the ranks of the developing world to become the premier mobile innovator. This represents a manifestation of the goal of electronic literacy equal participation. Participation proceeds elevation in status. Rather than ICT becoming one-way transaction with the developed countries helping the less privileged developing countries, the beneficiaries and benefactors come from across the board (Criado, Sandoval-Almazan, & Gil-Garcia, 2013). Developing countries should aspire towards production and distribution efforts courtesy on the new online frontiers, opportunities. Nonetheless, the learning curve persists. Devoid of digital literacy, individuals may have expensive smart phones without recognizing their utility. In contemporary society, information literacy supersedes computer literacy yet they are paradoxically intertwined. The ability to isolate relevant information from a mountain of data within the shortest timeframe possible is more valuable than writing with diction courtesy of the word processing skills. The latter skills are a stepping-stone to the former. A common shortcoming of marginalized communities is their singular approach to electronic literacy. Their complacency with the access to the multimedia platform stymies their digital growth. It follows majority of their communication skills are limited to social media slang and its accompanying prose. Their immaturity in language growth undermines their critical thinking capacity subsequently invalidating their opinions. The above irony relegates them to the initial dilemma, access to communication platforms while lacking the ability to communicate. Another misconception that impedes the closure of the digital divide is attitude rather than infrastructure. People who are advanced in age believe that electronic literacy is like language learning that one’s capacity to learn and becomes expertise becomes diminished, as they get older. The integration of technology into the workplace forces them to learn it though reluctantly.

Educational multimedia has evolved. It has transcended the text, audio, and visuals benchmark to interactive tools. Some institutions and societies are attempting to integrate video games. Contrary to the ageist misconception that immersion into technology reduces a person’s intelligence, opposing evidence has been produced. The constant immersion in video games has enabled children to gain higher cognitive skills earlier than their parents. The use of trial and error to proves hypotheses during the games, leveraging team strengths and creative thinking are creating different neurological pathways in the brain. While some pathways become inactive due to reduced use, majority are hyper-aroused with overall beneficial outcomes. Some points raised by the older generation may be valid like the diminished concentration spun ability to read long texts and reduction in face-to-face communication. However, teachers in developing nations mostly advanced in age have to overcome their reservations concerning various technological elements such as video games. Interactive learning is in line with the spirit of participation propagated by digital access.

Educational multimedia is evolving with the changes in social context. The said social context is not limited to one’s locality given the increase in globalization. To narrow the digital divide, changes in approaches towards electronic literacy is necessitated (Hardesty, McWilliams, & Plucker, 2014). In contemporary society, social inclusion can be extrapolated to mean global participation. The Third world is often reluctant to invest in digital literacy claiming that other tangible problems of their economy take priority over the virtual reality. The locals believe that investments in technology should begin when their respective countries have elevated above food economics. Governments should utilize educational multimedia to reiterate the essence of technology is maintaining national sovereignty. Electronic literacy and food security are intertwined. As knowledge of the former will aid a farmer to create intricate irrigation systems as well as operate other agricultural innovations.

The effectiveness of educational multimedia has led to reduction in knowledge disparity between experts and the average individual. Information literacy’s increasing importance has led to role transitions. Experts are no longer the custodians of knowledge with a monopoly on critical information. For instance, citizens in the Middle Eastern countries can surf the internet individually and form their own opinion as opposed to the collective stand proposed by the sheiks that the internet is evil due its Western affiliations. By embracing the utility of technology in their daily lives, they are able to breach the digital divide. In many fields professionals have become guides and consultants on the application of the given knowledge (Dornisch, 2013). People use tutorials to enquire about any subject afflicting them. Teachers face the challenge of teaching students that are more technologically adept with them. Their identity and respect is tied to the electronic literacy, as students will not learn from a person they deem of an inferior intelligence than themselves. It follows that teachers are incorporating social media like twitter to make the sessions more interactive. The doctors have to monitor the medical information online to ensure that it is credible. The liberation of information in a vacuum can ignite conflict. It is requires a tangible social context. Freedom even in the digital interface should be tempered by the structure of social systems. The value systems help to filter information disseminated to levels that are palatable to the different locales. Educational multimedia helps to ensure that digital democracy does not counteract the gains of social inclusion through appreciation of other people’s cultures and religious practices.

The digital divide implies that there are disparities in the access of technological resources across the world. At times, the cause of the disparity is negative outlooks toward technological infrastructure. For instance, it has diminished communal living through preventing face-to-face communication and has promoted immorality in society. The digital divide is present between developed and developing countries as well as the different demographics within the same country. Educational multimedia has the capacity to level playing fields by its use of cultural friendly oral traditions. The presence of physical constructs of technology without the accompanying support systems makes them null. The population has to be able to utilize the infrastructure towards personal benefit. Digital spectrum is an equalizing factor that helps populations of different socioeconomic background and religious affiliations interact. The key essence of closing the digital divide is to help to remove the underlying developmental inequities. It follows that those developmental projects should not be done in isolation rather as a section of a larger project. Electronic literacy demands the participation of the user. The participant is not a passive consumer but also a producer. They have to be actively engaged in the learning process to benefit. To increase comprehension of technological principles, the educators should utilize mobile technology due to its wide spread use. At the heart of digital equality is enhanced communication, the ability to voice opinions in the global platform, social inclusion. Technology overlaps other parts of a given economy and as such, government should create awareness of its necessity. Educational multimedia’s core competency is the ability personalizes information making it palatable at a socio-cultural level. Educational proponents should embrace the evolution of educational multimedia that promotes increased interaction. Digital competence surpasses computer literacy. In contemporary society, information literacy is of great importance.



Criado, J. I., Sandoval-Almazan, R., & Gil-Garcia, J. R. (2013). Government innovation through social media. Government Information Quarterly, 30(4), 319-326.

Dornisch, M. (2013). The digital divide in classrooms: Teacher technology comfort and evaluations. Computers in the Schools, 30(3), 210-228.

Hardesty, J., McWilliams, J., & Plucker, J. A. (2014). Excellence gaps: what they are, why they are bad, and how smart contexts can address them… or make them worse. High Ability Studies, 25(1), 71-80.

Macleod, H. (2005). What role can educational multimedia play in narrowing the digital divide? International Journal of Education and Development using ICT, 1(4).

Olphert, W., & Damodaran, L. (2013). Older people and digital disengagement: a fourth digital divide? Gerontology, 59(6), 564-570.

Srinuan, C., Srinuan, P., & Bohlin, E. (2012). An analysis of mobile Internet access in Thailand: Implications for bridging the digital divide. Telematics and informatics, 29(3), 254-262.

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