The digital divide in higher education

Added by Branwen Hide on 18 August 2008 11:47

A recent article in the THE, Grappling with the digital divide, discusses recent research on the nature and impact of a new kind of literacy know as ?transliteracy, which describes the ability to read, write, and interact on a range of platforms.

The interest lies in the impact transliteracy is having on higher education and pedagogy with the majority of students members of online social networking, and a large proportion blogging or having their own websites, there is a belief that academics should be using a wide range of technologies when they teach and that universities must get up to speed with Web 2.0 technology.

For this to happen, tutors need to encourage and monitor discussions to ensure students are sourcing the most accurate and useful information online and teach them how to be critical of the information they are receiving. This skill of critical thinking is an important one that students need to learn early in their academic studies, particularly in a society that is so information heavy and time short and goes hand in hand with proper understand of the technology they are using. But this is a requirement for tutors as well. A good tutor is a good communicator, and particularly in this day and age, communications takes place in many forms. It may be that more effort is need by tutors to take advantage of the technology that is out there and reach their students in as many ways as possible.

However, in the current academic environment, where students are requiring more face to face contact, more assessments, and there is a heavier burden of administration on top of the pressure to perform on the RAE (soon to be REF) are we asking too much of our academics to be taking on yet another task? Or should the up coming REF include contributions to these types of technologies?

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