Mobile computing is minicomputing with the cyberspace at the touch of your fingers. The trend has been charted decades ago, but underdeveloped countries are lagging and the price of getting connected remains unreachable for the masses. This keeps the divide between the technological have’s and have not’s to widen.
In theory, the gap is supposed to be dismal as time passes. But what experts failed to see is that of the speed of innovation and the attitude of market towards technological change, and the rate of population increase from the poor sector. Those who can not afford access to the latest technologies, undoubtedly lag behind. If we compare students from a state university who rely only on technology that they can access in school, with those students from private colleges and universities, the difference is clear.
I teach in a private college where the facilities provided to the students are well updated. It is also noticeable that my students can afford advanced mobile computing devices with access to the Internet. When I ask them to prepare for oral presentations, they amaze me with their creativity and savvy use of technology. While I could tell them theoretically, what they can do more with technology, all I got is the theory but I lag in the skills of optimizing technology.
I guess I need more time to learn and update myself on technological applications. If one time I show my students a skillfully crafted presentation, with full animation, transitions and hyperlink, next time around they can beat me into their works. We’ll at least I am trying to be a good model to my students. But my point is not all students in a developing country are like my students.
Generally speaking, many students in the rural areas don’t even have access to the Internet or have never had enough time to at least know how to turn on and off a PC. Technology is for all as it is with basic education. The UNESCO’s drive of Education for All (EFA) aligned with the UN’s millenium Development goals, stresses the acquisition of new technological competencies for all students.
How many computers do our public schools have compared to the number of student? How many of those schools with computer laboratories have Internet access? How updated are those computers to provide the students efficient training and use in the limited time that they will be allowed to access such technology? How are students required to apply technology in their outputs? How adept are the teachers in public schools to teach students to maximize the use of technology in their studies?
When we compare public and private schools, the former are larger in number, but the latter has more potential in practically utilizing technology to advance student’s learning. I have no answers to the question I posed, but the public school administrators, the division heads, the Department of Education and the Commission and Higher education should have a database to answer these questions.
Now that the K12 will be implemented in the coming school year, what will students be taught about technology and how? Will those kids in the rural areas be asked to draw a computer, practice with carton keyboard, pull a rat’s tail or 50 or so students will watch a video on YouTube in a single PC if a projector is not available? Will the kids still be taught how to make rags, dustpans, parol, fruit salad, how to massage, pedicure toes or perm hair?
Surely there is a need for vocational graduates, they should be certified for taking such course. But as we move forward, if we do want to move forward, the basic education curriculum for the K12 program should address the social need to ready the learners in mobile computing world. I remember then a dream to connect the Philippines with national broadband project that was thwarted from the beginning.