Public sector communicators have been following the digital divide debate with interest. Whilst most are convinced of the need for digital communications with their stakeholders some are concerned about those excluded from 21st century means of access to information.
In a recent interview Paul Murphy, MP, minister for digital inclusion commented on the Oxford Internet Association’s analysis of ‘social disadvantage and the information society’. In my view, today’s interim review of the curriculum in England’s primary schools by Sir Jim Rose proposes exactly the right approach. Controversially, he recommends that ICT should be of equal priority to the 3Rs in early learning. He says the level of lessons in information, communication and technology (ICT) currently taught in secondary schools should now be taught to primary-age pupils.
Such technology skills should also be used in other lessons, recommends Sir Jim. This could include using the internet for research, word-processing work and making podcasts.
“Good primary teaching deepens and widens children’s understanding by firing their imagination and interest in learning. One highly promising route to meeting the demand for in-depth teaching and learning is undoubtedly emerging through ICT,” says Sir Jim.
He said advances in technology and the internet revolution were driving a pace of change that would have been unimaginable 20 years ago.
Children’s Secretary Ed Balls commented “Parents of our generation probably don’t realise, for example, how fast children are picking up computer skills today.
“We need 21st Century schools which make the most of the opportunities technology offers our computer-savvy youngsters.”
With progressive policies like these the digital divide will inevitably narrow.