In a recently published article in Business Week, Marcia Stepanek looks at the Blacksburg Electronic Village (BEV) and the communities that surround it. While Blacksburg is the most wired town in the nation, with more than 85% of its residents online (32.7% is the national average), only 14% of those living in the area that surrounds Blacksburg are connected to the Internet and only 20% have computer access.
According to the article, 1993 efforts to spread the word about BEV to outlying communities were unsuccessful and little has been done since to help motivate outsiders to become involved. High connection costs for non-university residents, high hardware costs, lack of personnel and dollars for training and lack of interest on the part of those who don't understand the Internet potential have also figured into the picture. The article emphasizes the critical need for motivation, training, computer literacy, technology support and technology relevance to needs, if everyone is to brought into the Age of the Technology and the widening gap between those who have and those who don't is to be bridged.
In a related article, enterprises like Plugged In and The Area Learning Center in California are working to bridge the widening technological gap between the haves and have nots At the Area Learning Center, Plugged In students, in danger of dropping out of school, are put to work on relevant projects using multimedia technologies. Through a collaborative learning process, students gain marketable skills that they can put to use as they enter the world of work. Using this process, the widening technology gap begins to close...if just a bit. (SOURCES: Nov Business Week (p. 188), AUTHOR: Marcia Stepanek] (http://www.businessweek.com/; Wired News 4 Nov 99 EduPage 8 Nov 99)
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