Without an educated, ICT-savvy populace, no community can fully participate in the Networked World. To foster this resource, information and communication technologies must be incorporated into the learning system. Lamentably, although the use of ICTs in education is one of the most powerful catalysts to Networked Readiness, it is an opportunity that is often squandered, misunderstood or underestimated.

Schools' Access to Information and Communication Technologies. Schools must integrate ICT tools into their learning processes if they are to be part of the Networked World. Programs that give students access to information and communication technologies in the classroom provide an important step to improving Readiness. A school's Readiness in terms of access can be broken down into six broad areas: number of computers, physical access to the technology, types of computers, diffusion of the network, access to and organization of electronic content, and quality and speed of connectivity in the school. In general, the diffusion of information and communication technologies is driven by unit cost per pupil. Computers tend to be adopted first at the university level, then by the secondary school system, and finally by primary schools.

Illiteracy and ICTs

While cutting-edge digital media do extend the usability of the Internet, it is still largely a text-driven medium. Illiteracy seriously limits the ability of many communities to utilize computers and online resources, particularly in the developing world, where illiteracy rates can be quite high.

Enhancing Education with ICTs. While putting ICTs into schools is an important first step to Readiness, the technologies need to be properly harnessed to improve the learning process. Teachers must be trained to use the Internet and computers as tools for the students' benefit; this training is central to Readiness. Curricula must be redesigned to encourage the use of ICTs in the pursuit of problem solving, group learning and research. Students should be taught from the earliest age possible to use information and communication technologies to enhance and improve their learning experiences. Full integration of ICTs into the learning process is optimal, and collaborative, project-based learning can make up a solid pedagogical strategy for ICT-enhanced education.

Developing the ICT Workforce. It is essential that there exist opportunities within the community to offer future ICT workers both first-time and continuing training in essential skills such as software programming, hardware engineering and World Wide Web design. These opportunities are fundamental to creating a sustainable ICT industry and support the integration of ICTs into the local economy.

<---Previous Page  Next Page -->