My mother recently purchased her first smartphone. It hasn’t been a smooth transition from her old Nokia device which, in fairness, has stood the test of time and never failed to follow the basic commands of text messaging and phone calls.
Neither of my parents have ever independently worked a computer. They also struggle with most electronic equipment after the point of pressing the power button. I was fortunate enough to be born into a generation of digital natives – an era in which being tech savvy was innate in all youth. However, people in more mature demographics have had to either actively seek help from family members and friends or take the brave step into adult learning in order to ably send emails, book a flight online, or make a Skype call.
There is no substitute for knowledge when it comes to accessing and utilizing information and communication technologies. Nowadays, the world moves at a much faster pace and there is no sign of it backpedaling.
On July 14 the world’s last telegram will be sent somewhere in India. The state-run telecom firm Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has decided to discontinue the 160-year-old telegram service, once a source of quick and urgent communication. It’s a clear sign of the times we live in, and magnifies the ever-increasing need for education in ICTs for all.
The inclusion of the elderly in the digital era can positively impact their social and economic welfare. ictQATAR is working to bridge the digital divide in Qatar by enhancing ICT readiness and usage of all members of society and businesses so that everyone can participate in Qatar’s information society.
Some of the documented reasons for this digital divide include:
- The local technological infrastructure
- Lack of ownership or access to equipment
- Knowledge of and interest in the internet
- Costs of equipment and subscriptions
- Privacy and security concerns
Qatar National e-Learning Portal (QNEP) provides a service which is breaking through these barriers. More than 4,000 cost-free courses for persons of all ages and backgrounds are available through the portal which provides economic development by connecting people to educational opportunities through information and communication technology. Support is given to those who do not have the computers, modems, and internet connections to enable them to go online. However, even with the materials to go online, not everyone possesses the same skills in using the technology. And this is where the e-Learning Portal comes into play.
If you have a family member or know someone who would like to get started as an individual learner, have them contact QNEP and help bridge the digital divide.