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Do Open Educational Resources Actually Increase the Digital Divide?

By Wayan Vota on December 19, 2011

We have often focused on Open Educational Resources (OER) in the Educational Technology Debates. We talked about the need for creating digital content and examples of existing Open Educational Resources. But this month we’re going to ask a controversial question:

Does OER actually expand the digital divide?

The proponents of Open Educational Resources are right to point out the need for digital content. There are few if any locally relevant resources for educators in the developing world – local language being a major issue. So is access – to the hardware required to view content and often the Internet access to reach it. In addition to content, and the access to reach it, teachers need the skills and training to convert good content into great lessons.

But let us say that all these prerequisites exist – content, access, training:

  1. Does that mean teachers will actually use it?
  2. And who will they use it with? Students already advantaged with socio-economic resources or the underprivileged learners that are the ostensible focus of many educational technology interventions?
  3. Most importantly, regardless of the benefits for the privileged, how can we create better OER benefits for the poor?

Please join us this month for what we all expect to be a lively and informative conversation – your input can start right now with your opinion in this Educational Technology Debate.


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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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