Web-based learning activities provide an opportunity for students to learn how to communicate and collaborate responsibly in an increasingly digital world (see Roblyer & Doering, 2014). Particularly in rural and regional areas of Australia, web-based learning activities have the potential to provide students with resources and ‘virtual’ excursions or experiences that may not have otherwise have been accessible to them.
One of the main barriers to implementing web-based learning activities is access to digital services. Recent research conducted by the University of Technology, Melbourne, found that while federal initiatives such as the roll-out of the National Broadband Network have increased access to digital services, the affordability gap is widening and disadvantage is frequently geographical, tied to location and place (Thomas, Barraket, Ewing, MacDonald, Mundell and Tucker, 2016). For students with average or advanced socio-economic backgrounds, digital services are becoming increasingly affordable for both themselves and the schools they attend. Low-income families face a higher proportionate cost relative to their income and an estimated sixty percent of these students attend under-resourced schools (Nous Group, 2011). Keeping in mind that the benefits that web-based learning can offer are not as accessible for disadvantaged students, teachers and school communities need to actively find opportunities to do more with less (more on how that can be achieved here, here, here, here and here).
I am preparing a unit at the moment which involves using web-based resources in the context of a BYOD program. The unit can be accessed here – comments (either on the blog or directly in the Google Doc) are welcome.
Nous Group. (2011). Schooling challenges and opportunities: a report for the Review of Funding for Schooling panel. ISBN: 978-0- 9871847-0- 2 Retrieved from: http://apo.org.au/node/26252
Roblyer, M., & Doering, A. (2014). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching: International Edition, 6th Edition, Pearson.
Thomas, J, Barraket, J, Ewing, S, MacDonald, T, Mundell, M & Tucker, J. (2016). Measuring Australia’s Digital Divide: The Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2016, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, for Telstra. DOI: www.dx.doi.org/10.4225/50/57A7D17127384