Digital networks are transforming the delivery of education and the future of educational institutions. New and emerging technologies give educators the potential to revolutionize all aspects of the learning experience. The ease with which digital content can be shared has the power to obviate the scarcity of educational materials, a problem most acute in impoverished areas. Advances in telephony, Internet access, and digitization processes hold the potential to educate individuals and communities in numbers that were previously unimaginable. The same technology that facilitates distance education can also enhance the educational experiences of students in traditional educational settings. Because digital media can be created, manipulated, and transformed so easily, they not only create new areas of study, they can also change the way teachers approach traditional subjects.
Yet the information revolution has not yet transformed our approach to education in the way it has so many other aspects of our lives. There are two basic reasons: First, many communities lack access to the benefits of digitalization. They face multiple problems that include undeveloped political infrastructure, the scarcity of materials translated into local languages, lack of capital to fund educational ventures, and a deficit of educators. Reformers must address these core infrastructure roadblocks for education of any kind, digital or otherwise, to flourish. Second, national and international information regulations and policies – including telecommunications and intellectual property policies – often directly or indirectly constrain the educational process.
All stakeholders of digital education must engage in intellectual and policy work in order to change the current barriers. To this end, the ISP is spearheading the creation of a dynamic coalition to bring together key stakeholders from around the world to discuss the various obstacles that hinder the progress of digital educational activities.