The digital divide has always existed: a few years ago it was identified as the axiom of access or no access to ICT (information and communication technologies). With Internet penetration in Spain of nearly 85% of the population, we can say that the digital gap has almost closed.
The current problems are not due to the possibility of access to information but to digitalisation in education and the inclusion of technology in education in all its formats.
The Spanish education system is generally characterised by students who are “digital natives” and whose world, our world, is swamped with technology and where technology transforms everything it touches. This has already happened and will continue to happen: our habits, customs and way of life have changed. They are evolving at high speed, much more than ever before.
This is where the so-called digital divide emerges, i.e. the differences in this area between the current world which swamps us with “updates” from week to week and month to month and the education systems’ ability to quickly adapt to them.
How can we bridge the digital divide in classrooms?
At BSS (Best Schools in Spain), the digital divide is bridged by integrating technology into the education process, the methodology and the teaching techniques. Integrating technology does not mean teaching processes or techniques; it means transforming instrumental skills into cognitive skills.
In the same way that engineering students looking at Santiago Cathedral will think about the structural challenges during its construction, fine art students will appreciate the care taken to carve the stone. In addition to their appreciation as a result of their studies, digital natives educated at BSS centres will also think about bringing those who cannot see it in person closer to this architectural wonder through a virtual visit, an online 3D model or an interactive game where the cathedral is the main setting.
This is because technology has been implemented in their education and forms part of their way of understanding the world around us.
In such cases, the digital divide is minimised since, based on global access to information, we focus on how to manage, understand and communicate this. We teach students to think, use the tools we make available to them and share them. That is why our classrooms’ daily methodology includes the main technology tools (computers, tablets, interactivity, etc.) and our students participate in education projects such as Apple’s “Everyone Can Code” plan and robotics developments with ad-hoc activities.
BSS centres integrate technology into education so that it becomes part of us
At the best schools in Spain, programming has already been included in the curriculum subjects. Our solution to bridging the digital divide is to integrate technology so that it becomes part of us by helping students to know about and interact with the world so that it can be a language which they learn in a natural way.
We also provide access in a controlled and trained way so that ICT (information and communication technologies) can be used as a way of teaching. This integration is made at the schools by training teachers and integrating ICT into education to achieve excellence and provide our students with both tools and a way of thinking and reasoning to face the challenges of today and tomorrow.
The main difference nowadays is not simply access to ICT, information, the Internet, etc. We have gone from being on the net to forming part of it by generating content, interacting, providing to it and making it grow. We have gone from being mere visitors to forming an integral part, i.e. a living part of the system. And there’s no turning back.
The world is increasingly more technological; if we do not prepare and train our students in the proper use and development of technologies, we are not preparing and training them appropriately.
That is why the BSS centres focus on constantly training and updating the teaching staff by improving and developing their knowledge so that they can pass this on to students in an effective way.
At the same time, our schools also try to share their best practices and success cases with other cutting-edge schools in ICT integration to close the digital divide in classrooms.