The learner's perspective

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Teacher assisting mature students in the use of laptops.
"The groups most affected by the digital divide are those which are already the most excluded within society."
Digital Inclusion, The Scottish Executive (2001)
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Widening participation

Taking the technology to the learner may be the only feasible option where, for reasons of distance, disengagement with learning, or social or cultural disadvantage, learners cannot participate in mainstream provision. The advantages of mobile laptop, PDA or mobile phone schemes for hard-to-reach learners have been:

Raised self-esteem. Bite-sized, easily accessed learning increases participation and may encourage progression onto mainstream courses.
Targeted funding. m-Learning projects involving ICT and basic skills training have attracted project-based funding.
Creation of communities of practice. Learners who are isolated or dispersed geographically or culturally can gain support from contact via mobile devices with wider learning communities.
Wider reach. Provision of PDAs or third generation mobile phones for schoolchildren or young adults can cascade skills onto older family members.

An example

A case study, Bringing the technology to the learnerfrom Gloucestershire College of Arts and Technology, illustrates how a mobile laptop scheme has widened participation by adults in ICT classes as part of a community-based learning programme. This case study is also available on video.