We often talk about the power of the Internet to spread knowledge and information globally, to make digital content accessible and affordable. But as we're also often caught up in the "latest and greatest" gadgetry, sometimes we overlook that broad promise of global education and accessibility.
Such is the case, one might argue, with the news last week from Common Sense Media about the so-called "app gap" -- the disparity between children in low-income and higher income families and their access to mobile applications.
There's little denying that the popularity of mobile devices -- Androids and iPhones and tablets -- has afforded a concurrent explosion in exciting new educational apps. The touchscreen screens, the accelerometers, the size, and the portability of these devices has enabled whole new genres of software and of imaginative and educational gameplay.
But if we focus on the "app gap" -- those who have iPads and those who do not -- are we ignoring or obscuring other aspects of the digital divide? Are we overlooking the potential for widespread dissemination of and access to information by rushing to prioritize that information bundled in the shiniest new package?
While many schools in the U.S. are rushing to embrace iPads, other types of e-readers haven't been widely adopted -- even though they cost less and display digital textbooks, which is one of the rationales for transitioning from print books to tablets. But a non-profit organization called Worldreader is demonstrating how utterly transformative e-readers can actually be, even without apps and videos.