Digital Dividends is the 2016 World Bank development report assessing the state of digital access, utility and relevance across the world.
”We find ourselves in the midst of the greatest information and communications revolution in human history. More than 40 percent of the world’s population has access to the internet, with new users coming online every day. Among the poorest 20 percent of households, nearly 7 out of 10 have a mobile phone. The poorest households are more likely to have access to mobile phones than to toilets or clean water”. Source: World Bank, Digital Dividend 2016.
The World Bank report is not solely dedicated to education, although beginning on page 258, a series of case studies and assessments take the temperature of digital content and technological availability in the educative orbit.
The news is not all good. Despite advances in distribution and utility, the report argues that lack of access to apprpriate technology remains one of the stumbling blocks of digital emancipation. Within the context of the whole report the old observation is still true, even in 2016. No technology, no equality, or rather no parity of expectation.
”If you compared our world today with the world one hundred years ago, you would encounter amazing advances in science, commerce, health care, transportation, and other areas. But if you were to compare the classroom of a hundred years ago with an average classroom today, you would recognise it immediately: students lined up in rows, paper and pencil in hand; a teacher at the blackboard jotting down facts; students furiously copying all that is written and said, expecting to memorise the facts and spit them out on an exam”. Source: Robert Hawkins (2002), World Bank, Digital Dividend 2016.
Relevant here is the World Bank general observation that despite mushrooming relative growth in device numbers, it is the lack of change, sophistication and learning in the ‘analogue’ institutions of countries in transition, government and civil institutions and, within our field of vision as a project, schools and universities that hampers effective capitalisation of the ‘digital dividend’.
Given that lack of technology is the absolute disenfranchisement in the digital age, the World Bank report offers some interesting insights and recommendations for the skills sector, of whatever shade.
It looks at and notes improvement in uptake of MOOCs (Massive Open On-line Courses) and at the web functionality of services like The Khan Academy, The report notes that even where the Khan toolkit has been applied in the classroom, it is as a supportive, supplementary element to the learning.
Taking a view of the One Laptop per Child initiatives around the globe, the report notes that despite this comprehensive and energetic programme of hardware distribution, the best recorded learning outcomes are arrived at where the laptops are accompanied by instructional support and traditional teaching skills.
This comprehensive and detailed report is not a rant by internet zealots, (…you can find anything on the internet now!). Including enlightenment we suppose. Nor is it a damning case study of the failure of digital access to change the expectations and skills of the digitally connected.
Rather, by 2016, it is understood that pedagogy and the laptop processor have yet to find their final destiny in this joint journey of discovery.
We commend this World Bank report to our readers.