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Saturday, 29th November 2008

Adapting to the Era of Information: While some tribal colleges are working to give students access to the Internet, a digital divide persists

Adapting to the Era of Information: While some tribal colleges are working to give students access to the Internet, a digital divide persists

When professors at Northwest Indian College began giving more and more assignments requiring the use of the Internet for study and research, a harsh reality began to set in: More than a few students at the tribal college couldn’t make good use of this increasingly important electronic path to knowledge of the world.

Despite having wireless connectivity to the Internet on campus, the students could not afford a laptop computer of their own to access the Internet. Using the school’s three computer labs was also problematic, as many students were working parents who traveled long distances and had little time to stay on campus after classes to use school computers to go online. There was also the problem of not being able to afford increasingly expensive Internet access at home.

Rather than write the students off or risk seeing them lose interest in a college education for lack of the modern tools, the Bellingham, Wash.-based college that serves students throughout the state and in Idaho came up with a simple solution: use funds from a small federal grant to purchase 15 laptop computers and have a laptop loan program for students, one that runs much like borrowing a book from a library.

Source: Diverse


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