Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Researchers have long studied the prevalence of poverty and inequality throughout the world. Much of this poverty has resulted from a lack of opportunities for socio-economic growth and development. In this commentary, we conjecture that bridging knowledge disparities through mass education would reduce wealth and income disparities. Specifically, we investigate whether educating underprivileged individuals (who otherwise would have little access to education) via an inexpensive tablet device would bring about access to digital content and social networks and, thus, result in development opportunities for them. We draw from lessons from the pathfinding one-laptop-per-child (OLPC) initiative and several other field experiences. Through adopting a method of dialectic enquiry that Alan Turing first posed in his seminal investigation into whether machines could replace people, we first pose arguments against our postulate and then consider opposing points of view. Specifically, we address: what are the positive and negative effects of the BYOD approach to learning? How does the BYOD approach bridge knowledge disparities across the socio-economic divide? What impact does the BYOD approach have on different forms of student engagement? Are the digitally less connected also less literate? We conclude with some thoughts on whether content and devices should or could replace teachers.





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