Education, literacy, and universal access

So far we have thought about some serious issues around the use of technology in the Connected World. But what about those that don't have access, either through economic or educational disadvantage? The 'digital divide' has been discussed for many years, but as the pace of technological development has not dropped, and our education system has arguably not moved on, are we exacerbating the divide? Or are young people simply absorbing those technologies and techniques that they deem useful or interesting and ignoring the rest (how many teenagers don't know how to download music?).

In the UK's service economy, skills are possibly the most important competitive differentiator, and the ability to exploit technology are surely some of the most important. Are we developing those skills in our education system? What should those skills be - technical and development, or more focussed on using the technology effectively? Why have we failed to develop an IT industry commensurate with our nation's size? Is it because we lack the technical skills to successfully develop hardware, software, and applications products, or is it some other reason? And at a more basic level, are we producing children at school and university levels that have the adequate literacy skills (English, mathematical, and IT-related) required to get a job in an increasingly white collar and demanding workplace?

And if we need the skills and education to compete in a Connected World, how can we ensure that everyone has access - both to the education required, and to the physical infrastructure (particularly broadband). Should broadband Internet access be a universal right?

   

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