One of the things that’s always interested me about pushing teaching and learning in the direction of new media (or just in the direction of new technologies) is how we might be able to share the wealth. That is to say, we know there’s a deep and depressing digital divide in the world, and it’s growing. How could we use technology to help fill in that gap, and give more people knowledge and choices that they haven’t had before?
I say this interests me, but in my day-to-day reality I’m not really sure that I’m doing much about it. Creating online tutorials for using the library catalog doesn’t feel exactly revolutionary, although in principle it’s helping to level the playing field for students who don’t learn well in lecture, or students who have busy lives and can’t study full time, and so on.
Anyway, I’m still interested in looking over the shoulders of some of the really big projects that are tying technology and education to social justice issues. Two of the biggies I have my eye on right now are One Laptop Per Child and MIT’s Open Courseware project. Both have been criticized for various reasons, and both continue to charm and inspire me for their sheer starry-eyed optimism. I’d like to see a world where projects like this can work. I’d like to think that when we’re not thinking about the day-to-day, we spend some time thinking about that widening gap, and ways to fill it in.