In recent years, ICTs have become increasingly important in our daily lives. Initially, these technologies were used by a small number of people in society. Nowadays, it is almost the entire population, from young children to seniors, who use them. Every day, people consult their computer, their cell or their I pod to see their inbox, know the news, visit social networks, do research and so on. Indeed, ICT is becoming increasingly important in all areas of society. In the text that follows, I will focus on their place in the field of education. I wonder if these technologies really allow better access to education for all. To be honest, my opinion is rather divided. First of all, it is true that information and communication technologies offer several very advantageous opportunities for access to education. We need only think about distance education, the countless amount of information that can be found on the Web, or the full potential of Web 2.0. However, I wonder about the real accessibility; What about low-income families who can not afford a computer or an Internet connection at home? Or, remote locations where high-speed Internet connection is not possible? I also wonder if teachers have the training and knowledge to deal with the new generation of virtually-born children with a computer in their hands.
For starters, distance education offers many benefits to those who want to return to school. Take for example a man or a woman, with children and all the responsibilities that go with it. These people probably do not have the time to spend whole days on school benches. Thanks to distance education, they can return to school and continue their family life almost as before. Today’s technologies allow almost limitless interactivity so that the learner can continue his studies as well as if he is in front of a ‘real’ teacher. This option for studies demonstrates how ICTs are facilitating access to education for a large number of people. In addition to promoting access to many, they allow the learner to go at his own pace. No one can understand the same thing at the same time and the access to knowledge on the Web at all times gives everyone the opportunity to learn a lot at the desired speed.
Secondly, we know that the Web makes it possible to circulate information in abundance. People who want to know more about any subject just have to make a few mouse clicks and you’re done! All this information can undoubtedly promote education for all. In the CEFRIO reportPublished in December 2009 on Generation C, it can be read that fifty-eight per cent of young people between the ages of twelve and twenty-four find that the Internet “makes work a lot easier”. Young people of this generation are used to using tools like the computer and this gives them many advantages when it comes to doing research work. They no longer need to spend hours in the library to find books on the subject concerned. In just a few seconds, they have at their disposal encyclopedias even more complete than those found on paper. As the former school director and education blogger says, Mario Asselin in his text ” The effects of networks ” : “We are now in a period of plenty, both in terms of access to a wealth of data, access to information and a multitude of opinions, all of which, in some cases, become knowledge. In addition, the Web is without borders. All the information found on the Internet can be seen by users from all over the world. People of all nationalities (except for a few exceptions) and all religions have access to countless amounts of information of all kinds in all languages.
With the advent of Web 2.0, it is now the users who become the information providers. Indeed, Web 2.0 is much more interactive and it gives the chance to many to publish on the web. This is a very interesting tool to spice up school work! Why not use ICT to interest young people … With all the possibilities that are offered, teachers just have to let their imagination go! Forums, blogs, Youtube, Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter … Web 2.0 is full of tools that directly reach the interests of young people. In terms of accessibility, Web 2.0 is not a problem. Indeed, no matter how old the computer is, whether we are with Mac, Microsoft or Linux, the only thing we need is an Internet connection and the Web 2.0 world belongs to us! In addition to giving the chance to publish our own information, the Web also allows us to share it with people from all over the world. This can lead to very interesting and informative exchanges for young people. Information, and therefore education, becomes very accessible to a large number of people. In addition to exchanging information, it is much easier to do remote teamwork. Here, I’m not just referring to two students from the same university whose schedules are not coordinated well. Indeed, it is now possible to make projects between universities across provinces, countries and even continents!