Audience with the King of Alladah, 2001

 Gibson (as cited by Soloway) stated that “the future arrived…it just wasn’t equally distributed.” This quote made me think of Cotonou, Africa and my study there in 2001. At the time, I was completing my undergraduate degree as a non-traditional student at Bowling Green State University. I barely had enough money to survive, but I owned a computer and had dial up Internet. I did not own a cell phone, and would not be able to afford one until 2005. One of the first things that made an impact on me when I landed in Cotonou was the amount of cell phones. Everywhere I looked, people were talking on cell phones. Since the infrastructure of Benin had not included landlines, satellite controlled cell phones were allowing people communication freedom very few had enjoyed before. Very few cell phone owners owned a car or had Internet access. This changed dramatically when we left the city to have an audience with the King of Alladah who had a single cell phone on a silk pillow in his kingdom. King Kpodégbé Djigla expressed his desire to create a website for his kingdom to connect to the rest of the world. This was the most important thing on his agenda.

Cotonou School 2001

Only School Computer - Cotonou - 2001

I was lucky enough to guest lecture in a high school in Cotonou. I taught English for about an hour, and then had an excellent tour of the school. The school had one computer, which was used by the payroll office. Students had no opportunities to access the Internet. At that time, I was student teaching at Clyde High School which had four computer labs available for just the high school.

My Classroom - China - 2005

In 2005, I particpated in a teacher exchange to China. This gave me a different perspective. Students in China all had cell phones at this private school that was attached to a university. The classes were 60-75 students and there were no computers in them. Teachers and students lived together in dorm rooms which did not have Internet. The Chinese government was very strict on who had access. This gives a different twist to Gibson’s quote.

Chinese School

This summer I have been chosen to be a Fulbright Group Projects Abroad (GPA) participant and study in Jordan. As a technology leader, I am going to be designing an online course on my studies. One of the main Fulbright topics is gender equality in the Middle East, which is one of the strands in my High School World Issues course. I am also going to continue presenting at National, State, and local conferences to help other educators utilize technology in their classrooms. I am already scheduled for two sessions at the NWOET Technology conference in August.
http://www.nwoet.org/conference/index.html

Reference

Soloway, E. (n.d.). The Digital Divide: Leveling the Playing Field. Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/courses/14936/CRS-WUEDUC8812-3730077/EDUC_8848_PK_Transcript.pdf

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