Conference Examines Digital Divide

Conference Examines Digital Divide

As an administrator and computer science instructor at West Los Angeles College, Zenobia Millet had a busy agenda last month at the Community College Foundation’s Tech Ed 2000 educational technology conference in Palm Springs, Calif. Looking to forge partnerships with computer software and hardware companies, Millet spent much of her time meeting with the numerous conference vendors.
But she also found time to attend special events devoted to one of the hottest topics in information technology — the digital divide.     
Nearly 4,200 community college faculty members, administrators, high school teachers and four-year college staff attended last month’s three-day conference at the Palm Springs Convention Center. More than 170 companies and organizations exhibited their products and services at the conference, compared to 130 that were exhibitors in 1999, according to Dr. David Springett, president of the Community College Foundation.
The large presence of online education companies such as Blackboard, Inc., eCollege.com, eWebUniversity.com and University Access underscored the magnitude of higher education’s push into the online teaching and learning arena.
Many of the speeches and seminars also focused on technology’s ever-expanding role in education, as well as what educators should be doing to keep up with technology.
Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,delivered a keynote address about her school and the responsibility higher education institutions have in preparing its students for a technology-oriented society.
Dr. John Warnock, the CEO and co-founder of Adobe Systems, also delivered provocative predictions and urged conference attendees to fully participate in the information technology revolution that is transforming higher education.
Warnock, who presides over Adobe, a leading digital imaging and desktop publishing software company, talked about how digital technology and the Internet is forcing radical change upon the publishing industry.
“Publishers are trying to hang onto a print [business] model,” Warnock said, but electronic publishing is changing the entire publishing business and many publishing niches are falling victim to new technologies. “The [print] encyclopedia business has crumbled,” Warnock cited as an example.
In news that will please the security-minded, Warnock also announced that his company has developed Web technology limiting the user of a downloaded document from distributing the text via the Internet to other users. This could make Adobe technology an important part of a commercially secure distribution process.
Springett says the Community College Foundation is committed to making the digital divide an ongoing topic for panel discussions, demonstrations, and keynote speakers in future Tech Ed conferences. “We feel very strongly about the digital divide, and believe that it must be addressed,” he says.                 



© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com