Technology equals access to education. Technology has made it possible for developing countries to transform themselves into emerging economies. No longer an island unto themselves, countries that normally would remain on the margins of global society because of a lack of information and education now thrive among other more developed countries to contribute to the global paradigm. One cannot even argue that technology is an imposing force in educating students from less-fortunate countries to help them establish their own voice in the global community.
Building bridges in the educational divide
More than just handing out computers to classrooms in some imagined third-world reality, those who understand the need to make the global community a wonderful place for the entire world population teach developing countries how to use technology to their benefit, especially in terms of education. Initiatives that were started in the tech industry have gone beyond giving information and communication technologies (ICTs) to educational institutions, but have instructed educators on using technology to improve the quality of education for students and better prepare them for work in the global economy. In turn, those in the global community have benefited from the contributions of scientists, engineers, and scholars coming from these developing countries.
Computers in the classroom
All an educator needs is one computer with a reliable internet connection to bridge a classroom in any developing country to knowledge from sources around the world. No longer do educators in these environments have to rely on dated, inaccurate information – through a connection to the global community, teachers have access to a myriad of viewpoints. Regardless of whether the classroom has one computer or is a small lab, students greatly benefit from access to technology.
· Online resources: With access to the internet, classroom teachers can impart knowledge to students and then provide further resources where students can get more information independently.
· Online tutorial sites: For those students struggling in maths, science and literature, the internet provides a vast number of sites for student help, whether in the form of a document, online tutorial or a video. Khan Academy, Kolada.org and other online classrooms bridge the information divide in this way.
· Social media: Social media is the one opportunity for students to connect with others outside their community. While some might dismiss the importance of social media sites in education, sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest give students in developing countries a realistic glimpse at the culture and attitudes of others in the world community. More importantly, social media provides the opportunity for students in these countries to share their world.
· Computer programs: Microsoft Office 365 and other programs provide user-friendly access to accounting software, email and word processing applications.
Technology, more than anything else, is the bridge connecting those living in developing countries with current, accurate information. In fact, computer terminals and internet connections seem somewhat dated in this new environment where education has been transformed by mobile technology.
· Students from Ghana, Uganda, India and Morocco use mobile technology to access the internet to send texts, post and message. Each post, text or message is an opportunity for a child to become more literate.
· The mobile phone has also given children in Africa the opportunity to engage and take ownership of their community through the Text to Change (TTC) project, which poses questions to young people regarding their country. This initiative asks students to contribute to a discussion related to the future of their own country.
Connecting students in developing communities has become a responsibility and priority for everyone in society. Not only the fabulously wealthy and entrepreneurs have taken up the cause in providing quality education to students in developing countries, but industries in many sectors also see this as an opportunity to improve global culture. University Business magazine, in conjunction with Bett, is making technology and education a priority with a conference that focuses on helping educators from around the world use technology in the classroom for the benefit of the entire global community.
Education matters. The type of education that provides a place for everyone at the table, and thus the community, is the type that allows for contributions from diverse populations from around the world. By providing developing countries with tools to properly educate their students, the global economy has the potential to transform itself into one where every perspective is valued. More importantly, a paradigm shift takes place in the global ideology promoting independent sustainable economies for developing nations as opposed to those ideologies promoting economic dependence.