Access to internet alone is not the answer to unlocking universal education opportunities. Access to good content will.
By: Dr Leila Khouja Walker PhD
The internet is such an integral part of our lives. In fact, it has become a human rights violation for governments to purposely obstruct its citizens’ access to it. That’s according to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
In July 2016, the UN passed a resolution (26/13) that addressed what many of us already knew. It is critical that we increase access to the internet, as it “facilitates vast opportunities for affordable and inclusive education globally”.
Fans of the internet believe that the web can significantly improve standards of living. With health and education services increasingly becoming available online. However, governments have fallen short of delivering the internet for the masses. in 2017, 3.6 billion people were online. This means around 53% of the world’s population remain without access to the internet.
Access alone is not the answer to unlocking universal education opportunities.
We need to start distinguishing between technical access and reading access. For many people the amount of information can be overwhelming and finding specific content within pages and pages of search results can be daunting.
Additionally, a large proportion of the available information is actually too hard to understand for almost half of the global population.
It is thought that as much as 70% of published written content is not understood by the majority of readers. At Wizenoze we have data to show that more than 41% of users leave websites because the text is too difficult to read. This is known as the Readability Gap. It is the difference between the reading level of a visitor and the reading level of the text they are reading.
The Readability Gap is at its most acute for students. But it is not only students been impacted. Many teachers are themselves unable to access the highest reading levels.
A safe internet will not educate without enabling access to good content.
The current online environment for children and students focuses on blocking inappropriate information through filters. Filtering is a good solution to protect users from harmful information. However, it is not a solution that helps users get access to information they can understand. The information that gets through the filters is very often not relevant or is commercially driven. Importantly, most of the information online is still too difficult to read and understand.
The answer to a readable web is already here.
In response to the global need to support online users with content they can source at their reading level, Wizenoze with its sophisticated readability technology has created a readable web.
The Web for Classrooms is the largest curated safe-for-school collection of online content for students available in the world today. The Web for Classrooms provides rapid access for students and teachers to over 6 million pages of curriculum supportive online material. Curated by teachers and sourced only from trusted sources – all searchable by reading level.
This post previously appeared as a guest blog in the September issue of the TLA Education newsletter.