Globalization and the Digital Divide
Sidebar: Using Gaming to Bridge the Digital Divide
Paul Kim, the Assistant Dean and Chief Technology Officer of the Stanford Graduate School of Education, designed a project to address the digital divide for children in developing countries. In their project the researchers wanted to learn if children can adopt and teach themselves mobile learning technology, without help from teachers or other adults, and the processes and factors involved in this phenomenon. The researchers developed a mobile device called TeacherMate, which contained a game designed to help children learn math. The unique part of this research was that the researchers interacted directly with the children. They did not channel the mobile devices through the teachers or the schools. There was another important factor to consider. In order to understand the context of the children's educational environment, the researchers began the project by working with parents and local nonprofits six months before their visit. While the results of this research are too detailed to go into here, it can be said that the researchers found that children can, indeed, adopt and teach themselves mobile learning technologies.
What makes this research so interesting when thinking about the digital divide is that the researchers found that, in order to be effective, they had to customize their technology and tailor their implementation to the specific group they were trying to reach. One of their conclusions stated the following:
Considering the rapid advancement of technology today, mobile learning options for future projects will only increase. Consequently, researchers must continue to investigate their impact. We believe there is a specific need for more in-depth studies on ICT [Information and Communication Technology] design variations to meet different challenges of different localities.