Expanding the conversation in education around 'access' to the Internet

I don't know exactly what's wrong, I feel like we're not connecting anymore

I don't know exactly what's wrong,
I feel like we're not connecting anymore

Few would argue with the contention that access to the Internet will be increasingly important to teaching and learning (and to learners and teachers) in the future.

Yes, we all know that there was learning before the Internet, and that you can learn without using the Internet. Let's stipulate all of this up front. And yes, there are plentiful examples of the Internet being used in ways that are harmful or which degrade the learning environment -- as well as examples of the Internet not being used at all, even though it is available and paid for. 

That said, it is 2017. No matter where you are, conversations about broadening the access to the Internet to help meet the needs of learners and educators are growing louder in ministries of education, part of broader, related discussions around connectivity in the communities and populations that they serve.

When it comes to providing access to the Internet within educational settings, and for educational purposes:

  • What should we be talking about in 2017 that we haven't talked about in the past?
  • To what extent should we be expanding the access debate -- and to what extent should we be having different debates entirely?

Some technologies are maturing and others are emerging, past failures (of omission and commission) are becoming more apparent, and political will is increasingly in evidence in many places.

With this in mind, might a 're-think' be in order?