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Department of Educational Studies

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1 Department of Educational Studies
Exploring the Notion of ‘Technology as a Public Good’: Examining the South Korean Government’s Policy for Bridging the Digital Divide Sunnie Lee Watson Department of Educational Studies Ball State University

2 Presentation Road Map Presentation Overview Worldwide Digital Divide
Digital Divide in South Korea Digital Divide Policies in South Korea Discussion on the Notion and Policies for Technology as a Public Good Future Research for Technology as a Public Good Final Note

3 Presentation Overview
The term digital divide, often referred to as “information gap” or “information inequality” has generated a great amount of policy and academic discussion. While it is important to note that the precise definition of digital divide varies by the context in which it is being used or the group of people discussing it, the meaning of digital divide includes the discrepancies in physical access to information communications technologies as well as the inequalities in resources and skills needed to effectively use digital information or participate in the digital society (Korean Ministry of Information and Communication, 2001; Seo, 2001; Cho, 2001). In other words, it is the unequal attainment of information and communications technology by some members of the society and the unequal acquisition of related skills. When viewed as a whole

4 Presentation Overview
When considering the digital divide, various researchers and policymakers often discuss a variety of contexts, including socioeconomic status, gender, race, age, region, or geography. In this paper we aim to explore the historical, sociological, and economic factors that engender inequities related to digital technologies in the Korean context. By employing critical social theory perspectives, this presentation discusses and argues for the notion of “Technology as a Public Good" by examining Korea’s digital divides. We hope that the examination and analyses of the digital divide and the approach to digital divide solutions will provide further understanding of the international expansion of digital inequity worldwide and the facilitation of bringing social justice through digital equity. When viewed as a whole

5 Worldwide Digital Divide
Figure I. Less than 15% of the world population has access to the Internet. (Data Source: "Internet World Statistics", 2007) Critical Factors Percentage of Total Responses Culture 11% Language 12% Poverty 17% Infrastructure 19% Bureaucracy 14% Corruption Protectionism 13% Figure II. Obstacles to addressing the digital divide (Data Source: Global Information Infrastructure Commission Survey, 2001,

6 Worldwide Digital Divide
Figure III. Proportion of Internet users from different geographic regions as compared to proportion of world population in these regions (Data source: Nua Internet Surveys, 2001) Figure IV. Internet Penetration by World Region (% Population) (Data Source: Internet World Statistics", 2007)

7 Worldwide Digital Divide
The most common understanding of the notion of digital divide has been centered on regional and/or other geographic differences (such as the North-South divide or references such as ‘Western countries and the others’) However, whether the emphasis is on computing, communication in general or Internet-based communication in particular, some form of digital divide exists within every region, between the affluent minority and the rest of the population. The digital divide is now a worldwide crisis and is recognized as a palpable example of how political, economic and educational power is in the process of being renegotiated, commodified and regrettably more deeply entrenched within the hands of the few. Its negative impact on society in general and education in particular has already been recognized in many information-technology advanced countries (Tiene, 2002). When viewed as a whole

8 Why the Korean Case? South Korea has made major strides in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) over the last four decades. After the Korean War, in 1960, Korea had a telephone penetration of 0.36 per 100 inhabitants, barely one tenth of the then world average. Even after the rapid economic development between the 1960s and 90s, South Korea had less than one Internet user per 100 inhabitants in 1995 (International Telecommunication Union, 2003). And yet in 1999, Korea’s Internet user rate surpassed the developed nation average and by the end of 2002 was the world’s fifth largest Internet market with 26 million users. The number of Internet users in South Korea as of 2007 was over 34 million (Internet World Stats Online, 2007). The diffusion of broadband availability in Korea has also been incomparable, drawing worldwide attention (OECD, 2001). As a result, many international scholars and reports on ICT have referred to the Korean case as a miracle.

9 Why the Korean Case? Korea is demographically not the ideal candidate to have one of the highest Internet penetration rates in the world, or to have the highest in Asia. Among the so-called Four Tigers (South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan), Korea has the largest land and population. Korea’s population stands twice as large as Taiwan, China, seven times bigger than Hong Kong, China and more than 11 times larger than Singapore, which makes ICT access to the general public a bigger challenge. Korea cannot be viewed as the best candidate economically either, as the World Bank classifies Korea as an upper-middle income country, one category down from the high-income classification. Therefore, Korea’s high level of Internet penetration is not strongly correlated to its income level. Another discouraging factor against Korea’s ICT development is Hangul, the Korean alphabet, which uses a pictographic font that is not suited to computerization (ITU, 2003).

10 Why the Korean Case? Then, what are the reasons behind South Korea becoming a leading ICT strong nation with an ICT access of over 70% of the general public? There are various factors that will be discussed in the following section that have helped contribute to the growing impact of ICT in Korean economy and society (ITU, 2003). Among these various factors, however, international ICT researchers refer to the government’s policies on ICT as the most important factor in Korea’s success in rising from a very low level of ICT access to one of the highest in the world (Han, 2003; Picot & Wernick, 2007). Studies on domestic and international policies for digital divide have consistently shown that the Korean government ensured a high level of confidence and assurance for the general public and private companies by establishing and communicating a clear vision and strategy for ICT as a public good.

11 Digital Divide in Korea
Historically, most of the equity or equality problems in Korean society come from the family’s wealth or socioeconomic status (SES). The most influential aspect of society that determines privilege and discrimination in ICT access is socioeconomic status. Money on private tutoring for Korean students had jumped to twice the amount of five years before, far more than the increase in the nation’s gross domestic product (Bank of Korea, 2003). Major corporations, leading universities, lifelong learning institutions that operate through the MoE, and even K-12 schools are building cyberspace for online education and education resources (Rho, 2002). High-tuition universities or private schools, and already privileged K-12 students who are technology savvy are the ones using online educational resources. As well as Life-long learning or adult learning opportunities. 34 out of 48 million

12 1. Korean Case Digital Divide in Korea Occupation
Users % of Computer Use * of Internet Use Teachers 96.0% 87.7% College Students 98.0% 85.0% Desk Workers 88.5% 66.8% Farmers 4.7% 2.2% Self-employed 36.8% 25.3% Housewives 28.0% 31.8% Disabled 46.5% 36.5% Geographical Location: Distribution of PCs, access to the Internet and the World Wide Web are significant in different regions. The digital divide between the capital city, Seoul, and the rest of the country, between the urban and the rural areas is considerable. Figure VII. Percentages of computer and Internet use (Source: Ministry of Information and Communication, 2005) Figure VI. *Note: Each dot in map (a) represents 100 domains, and the domain numbers of map (b) are per 10,000 population of each city or county. (Data Source: Huh, W.-k., & Kim, H. (2003). Information flows on the Internet of Korea. Journal of Urban Technology, 10(1), )

13 The Policy: “2001 Master Plan for Digital Divide Solution”
The first Korean full-scale information society initiative was Cyber Korea 21 ( ). In March 1999, it was announced that Cyber Korea 21 was to be implemented. Cyber Korea 21 presented three policy objectives: building information infrastructure for a knowledge-based economy, improving nation-wide productivity using knowledge and information foundation, and increasing employment using information infrastructure. However, as soon as the full-blown Cyber Korea 21 policy implementation was rolled out, the government came to recognize the increasingly unequal distribution of access to ICT and felt the need to set forward a set of policies on closing the digital divide if the Cyber Korea 21 policy was to become a success. Therefore, in March of 2001, the 2001 Master Plan for Digital Divide Solution was announced by the government and lead by the Ministry of Information and Communication. The policy set goals to achieve six main objectives.

14 The Policy: “2001 Master Plan for Digital Divide Solution”
1) Ensure high speed broadband Internet through providing Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) in every single village, town, and city in the entire nation. 2) Provide free computers and five years of high speed Internet in 50,000 homes of children-lead families (families of children on welfare with no parent or foster parent direction), people on welfare or with disabilities, and social service centers. 3) Ensure access to people with disabilities. 4) Provide 550 public libraries that still did not have computers and Internet access with digital resource centers for facilitating all citizens’ Internet use. Facilitate the opening of at least 14,000 Personal Computer Cafes (PC-bang) nationwide, at a price lower than one U.S. dollar an hour. 5) Provide low-income families and people with disabilities the ADSL service at a 50% discount through government support. 6) Based on the successful program implementations through on digital literacy for children, housewives, people with disabilities and low-income families, the programs would be expanded for 10 million citizens, including the elderly, small business owners and farmers/fishermen in less developed regions.

15 The Policy: “2001 Master Plan for Digital Divide Solution”
In addition, the plan was to establish at least one or more free Internet centers in every village and to provide basic digital literacy education opportunities to all citizens by In addition, content for e-learning was to be developed and distributed to those of certain demographic groups that were traditionally excluded from information technology such as people with disabilities, the elderly, or farmers/fishermen. Detailed policies for access to ICT for people with disabilities were to be laid out later that year, and a development and research center of ICT for persons with disabilities was also planned to be established by 2003.

16 The Policy: “2001 Master Plan for Digital Divide Solution”
Sources and Funding for the Policy The 5 year plan was to be supported with 2.3 trillion won (approximately 2.3 billion U.S. dollars) by the government. Each department of the government was to be provided with money that could be allocated to support this initiative. Most government departments were required to directly participate in the policy implementation by planning specific programs that would be a good fit with their area of interest and also transform the department to be a more information society appropriate organization. In addition, tax cut incentives, subsidies, direct underwriting, loans and other types of financial support for construction of new high capacity computer hardware and private high speed broadband Internet companies were supported in order to facilitate the equitable distributions of computer hardware and high speed Internet services (Choi, 2003).

17 The Policy: “2001 Master Plan for Digital Divide Solution”
Overall Policy Mechanisms The 2001 Master Plan for Digital Divide Solution policy is a redistributive policy that tries to address the unequal distribution issues raised by the developmental Cyber Korea 21 government policy. This redistributive policy used a variety of methods as the mechanism for the policy implementation. Mandates were used as enforcement of law for compliance in government-based or public institutions; regulations were mandated to provide free Internet services and basic digital literacy education. Inducement mechanisms such as tax cuts and loan support were also used for private companies such as Hanaro, Korea Telecommunications (KT) to provide computer hardware resources and services to the disadvantaged, to low income families, and to those living in rural areas. As for individual level participation in digital literacy education and requests for physical resources and services, incentives such as provision of software were were popular and effective in the majority of the departmental programs.

18 The Policy: “2001 Master Plan for Digital Divide Solution”
Key Complementary Factors and Actors Government’s Commitment for ICT as a Public Good. Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity & Promotion. Departmental Implemented Programs and Funding. Public Private Partnerships. Competition of Broadband Internet Companies. Geography. Education Fever. PC bangs (Internet Cafes) and Online Simulation Games. “Keeping up with your Family and Community” Culture.

19 The Policy: “2001 Master Plan for Digital Divide Solution”
Positive Results of The Policy Implementation Decrease in Divides – Gender, Regions, Education Level, Age Digital Literacy Programs for Disadvantaged Population ICT access in Schools Perceptions of the IT use by General Public Unchanged or Negative Results of the Policy Implementation Existing Divides Socio Economic Status Geography Occupation, Age and Gender Government Websites for Information Duplicate Investments Problems

20 Discussion on the Notion and Policies for Technology as a Public Good
Most countries experience societal inequalities manifesting into similar forms of the digital divide. Most inequalities in South Korea are similar to the divides in other countries and are persistently apparent throughout the years of Internet use in Korea. However, over radical increase of ICT access shows that Korea’s approach to digital inequity is producing different outcomes in ICT access for the disadvantaged. So how should governments, particularly in the light of education, approach ICT development and access? We might advance this discussion by considering how the Korean case shows how aggressive digital divide policies have made significant changes in digital inequity as well as significant contributions to the economic development.

21 Discussion on the Notion and Policies for Technology as a Public Good
While the reasons behind South Korea achieving an ICT access rate of over 70% of the general public can be explained with various factors, international ICT researchers refer to the government’s strong commitment to digital divide policies as the most important factor in Korea’s success in having one of the highest rates of ICT access in the world (Han, 2003; ITU, 2003; Picot & Wernick, 2007). Studies on domestic and international policies for digital divide have consistently shown that the Korean government ensured a high level of confidence and assurance for the general public and private companies by establishing and communicating a clear vision and strategy for Information Communications Technology as a “public good”.

22 Discussion on the Notion and Policies for Technology as a Public Good
Advancing an argument for technology as a public good within a society requires familiarity with certain democratic principles and the recognition of the multivocal nature of the concept of social justice. Radical-democratic principles is a good example of why technology should be considered as a public good within a society. According to Cohen and Fung (2004), radical-democratic principles “value participation in public decision-making and deliberative democracy . . .[whereby] . . .[c]itizens should have greater direct roles in public choices or at least engage more deeply with substantive political issues and be assured that officials will be responsive to their concerns and judgments Instead of a politics of power and interest, radical democrats favor a more deliberative democracy in which citizens address public problems by reasoning together about how best to solve them . . .” (pp. 23 – 24).

23 Discussion on the Notion and Policies for Technology as a Public Good
Furthermore, Light and Luckin (2008) claim that “Social justice is an interventionist standpoint, in that it seeks to reorganise society’s resources and structures to create a fairer social order.” Furthermore, they advocate for a “user-centered design (UCD)” approach that values more inclusive and egalitarian involvement across all dimensions of societal users of technology as well as “technology-enhanced learning (TEL)” where “technology can be used to recognise and address everyone’s differences, including the needs and desires of minority groups . . .[including] the way in which it can be used to enable more people to communicate, socialise, join in debates and play a greater role in society”(Light & Luckin, 2008, p. 5).

24 Discussion on the Notion and Policies for Technology as a Public Good
It is also helpful to reexamine the underlying principles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) Article 26, which states, “Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit” (UDHR, 1948). Embedded within the UDHR is the notion that all human beings have the right to fully participate in negotiating what ought to be determined as the “public good” for their communities and that the skills and sensibilities required for such creation must be obtained by way of an educative process. The UDHR identifies technical education as part of these universal human rights.

25 Discussion on the Notion and Policies for Technology as a Public Good
ICT is now proving to be one of the vital tools of life in the currently emerging global society, and the concerns of the digital divide are particularly important because of its potential for fostering a more inclusive and equitable society rather than the negative influence that it is currently proving to be serving. Currently, educators and policy makers worldwide focus more on equity and equality issues in traditional, institutionalized policies and overlook the problem of digital inequity. To this date, policy makers and ICT educators consider the issue of digital divide with an overly simplistic notion, and most government policies merely focus on improving the physical numbers of computers and broadband available to the public.

26 Discussion on the Notion and Policies for Technology as a Public Good
The fundamental first steps to take are identifying the need for physical, digital, human and social resources (Warschauer, 2002; 2004) that are necessary for ICT access in that country or region. Exploring the solutions in various contexts to meet these needs should follow these first steps. In this sense, government efforts to achieve a universal service for ‘technology as a public good’ are absolutely necessary. A national service of eliminating obstacles and barriers is needed, so that every member of society has the opportunity to use ICT for meaningful and effective participation in all aspects of society, from economy to culture, from political participation to community life.

27 Future Research for Technology as a Public Good
Research and evaluation on digital divide policies worldwide are mostly looked at from a macro-level perspective, primarily situated at a national level. While it is true that the Korean government’s plans for bridging the digital divide were successful in bringing positive results, by taking on this macro-level perspective and dealing with the users as an aggregate population, evaluation and research for digital divide policies are also limited by this perspective. When data collection is aimed solely at obtaining and evaluating large-scale data, the analysis often misses insights that could be obtained from data about the day-to-day lived experience of those disadvantaged from the divide. In addition, a review of literature reveals that there is an absolute lack of independent researchers conducting studies related to digital divide policies.

28 Future Research for Technology as a Public Good
It is vital to explore under what supportive conditions disadvantaged groups such as women, the poor, the elderly and those in less-developed countries can obtain access to ICT. There should also be more effort in trying to understand the impacts of digital divide policies in the diverse groups of beneficiaries’ lives as well. What are the behavioral characteristics regarding their adoption and use of ICT? What does the adoption of ICT into their lives mean to them? What kinds of ICT programs were more successful and why were they successful in that context? What factors were most important for certain groups? What kind of impact did ICT access have in their small business revenue or family household? Did the revenue of the business or family household income rise by any measures? What kind of impact did ICT educational programs have on students? Are they more likely to set higher aspirations and goals that require higher technology skills in their jobs because of their exposure to ICT? Did they become more interested or feel inclined to participate in online discussions on social issues or political matters?

29 Future Research for Technology as a Public Good
In addition, attempting to understand a theoretical framework that encompasses many of these various factors within the policy planning and implementation process might be worthwhile. Future research should study the impact of disadvantaged user group behavior, personal demographic factors, pricing, educational factors and content on ICT access in combination with private sectors’ competition and public good oriented governmental strategies in a more holistic, comprehensive way. Such research efforts should be aimed at both collecting and evaluating large scale, macro-level data and more micro-level studies that give us a richer understanding of these various factors and how they interact.

30 Future Research for Technology as a Public Good
Finally, research should also aim to understand how stakeholders can help each other in their efforts to adopt ICT. The focus here is to study how ICT researchers can engage in research work that can facilitate social change and contribute to more equitable and empowering use of ICT at the local, grassroots level. The important objective is to learn how practitioners and researchers can collaborate and contribute to closing the digital divide in ICT use for disadvantaged or marginalized populations.

31 Final Note... The notion of “technology as a public good” presents a timely challenge and Korea’s case provides an illuminating example to address the topic of digital divide. Future exploration by policymakers and researchers from many different areas of education on this topic are needed in order to identify what could be improved for disadvantaged populations in adopting ICT into their lives, to connect that to help shape policies in other countries with similar digital divides, and ultimately to facilitate bringing social justice through digital equity.

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