Brief Introduction of Related Policies of DOC
1. The Origin of the Program
The program began as an initiative to create digital opportunities as proposed in the United Nations’ World Summit on Information Society (WSIS). With the advancement of technology, human societies are able to share their knowledge and experiences through the use of information technology, giving rise to knowledge-based economy. Knowledge-based economy allows science and technology to develop in an extremely rapid way; digital opportunity serves as a new application pattern that is different from the past, and is unique for every person, society, enterprise and nation. On the other hand, the rapid development of network application accelerates this trend, and many enterprises and individuals gain more competitive advantages and knowledge by exploiting information technology. Consequently, the differences in information and communication infrastructures between urban and rural areas, and the factors that affect the transmission channels such as regions, occupation, age, and social and economic status, prevent some people from getting access to information tools. In other cases, the unqualified information tools and transmission channels causing poor distribution of information and knowledge result in unreliable information which weaken the competitiveness and expand the gap in knowledge, culture and economy. Such phenomenon wherein the competitiveness is distributed in an unbalanced way with the development and application of information technology is known as the “Digital Divide”.
Ministry of Education places great importance to international rankings and uses it as a reference to assess the country’s current digital development situation. It is also included in the annual reports of the National Development Council. Ministry of Education aims to promote the online courses and constructing a learning center that will integrate the online courses of other ministries. The ministry combines distant health care and integrates diversified services like e-life application, as well as establishes a special promotion center to enhance product digital marketing and other similar work. In the future, Ministry of Education intends to coordinate with the National Development Council and assists in practicing the promotion strategy of mastering and analyzing the latest information obtained from international developments, and strengthening the learning strategy to be continuously in line with international trends and developments and to promote international exchanges.
Ministry of Education is abiding with the Executive Yuan's policy of reducing the digital divide. The first phase of the plan (2005–2007) involved “narrowing the digital divide”; the second phase (2008–2011) aimed at “creating digital opportunities”; the third phase (2012–2015) was intended to “ cultivate digital care”; and the goal of the fourth phase (2016–2019) is to “universal rural digital applications”. Ministry of Education is implementing the “Digital Application Promotion Project in Remote Areas” to help residents and students in remote areas gain access to information and digital services.
Fig 1: Project Timetable
2. Abstract of the Program
The project combined efforts of the ministries, ranging from the construction of the overall digital environment in remote areas, and the investment of necessary and diverse resources, to the rigorous innovative training programs and theirs planning and design, making digital learning possible for individuals in remote areas, and information application channels that merge virtualization and reality available to the public to enhance their information literacy and skills. In the future, further construction and strengthening of the practical operation of the Digital Opportunity Center (DOC) should expand its services, widen its targets, and provide diversified services. The goal of DOC is to become a digital learning partner and a source of health education and care information for practical life applications to create a healthy and friendly digital lifestyle. Individuals in rural areas will be taught to use digital technology in a comprehensive and effective manner to enhance their overall quality of life, also as a platform to market their products to boost local economy.
3. Objectives of the Program
(1)The DOCs would strengthen their shared structured functions and their mobile services, expanding their recipients of services and provide more diverse services, in order to become the center for multi-functional digital care with shared structures.
(2)The digital learning partners will assist the after-school learning activities and taking care of children in remote areas, based on its model, the students in remote areas can transcend geographical limitations and obtain sufficient learning and counseling resources.
(3)Recruiting ICT volunteers from colleges and universities so will provide services in the community and increase its visibility. Recruiting volunteers from the private sector also can develop local characteristics in each area.
4. Structure and Strategies of the Project
(1)The DOCs integrate the resources of the ministries to use them in remote areas to equip the public with digital information and boosting local industries.
(2)Adopting e-learning activities and integrating digital learning resources, the project recruit university/college students to accompany primary and secondary school students in remote areas, to enhance their learning motivation and secure equal opportunities for learning.
(3)To recruit, organize and cultivate volunteers in information and tourism who will serve as the seeds for circulating operational resources, who will work in remote areas to provide information application services in cooperation with institutes of higher education, the high schools, and non-government organizations, in accordance with the DOC activities.
(4)The project will mobilize multi-faceted services, with DOC as the base, and increase public information applications to foster the capability of value-added application.
(5)To merge digital resources and services from all ministries, the project will optimize digital learning of the public and establish training module courses for applications of digital technology.
(6)To promote the special mechanism of district-tutoring, develop characteristic industries in districts, including agriculture, tourism, local culture, etc. and enhance the management and operation of local communities through cooperation with the Ministry of Economy in professional counseling, publicity and internet marketing.
(7)To further the exploration and investigation directed at production, living and ecology, and create distinctive residential areas and expand the marketing channels of rural industries through the combined efforts of the ministries, applying network marketing platform and employing agricultural information mobile services.
(8)To help the locals cultivate the concept of online marketing and brand management, provide digital environment for education and online learning resources, promote the effective learning of local people, and train them with marketing and entrepreneurship skills to expand business opportunities in rural areas.
Fig 2: Structure of the Digital Application Promotion Project in Remote Area
5. Top Priorities
Ministry of Education implements the “Digital Promotion Project in Remote Areas” and actively assists the public and students in remote areas with the application of information and digital services. The program is divided into three sub-groups according to the focus of performance: Digital Opportunity Center (including Guidance Team), Information Technology (IT) Volunteers, and Digital Learning Partners.
(1)Digital Opportunity Center (DOC)
A “Digital Opportunity Center” (DOC) is a facility located in a remote area providing computer with Internet service for the residents to obtain information. These DOCs serve to boost the public's computer usage rate and Internet access rate, enhancing the utilization of digital learning applications to schoolchildren in remote areas, providing training to local pluralist groups, boosting the skills and learning ability of indigenous citizens and residents of remote areas in digital technology, and promoting the development of distinctive industries such as local cultural industries, agriculture, forestry, fishing, animal husbandry, and tourism with the aid of digital technology. The DOC can revitalize development in residents of remote areas, and shrink the digital divide.
The establishment of DOCs unifies the capabilities of the private sector and the community. Apart from providing a setting in which the local public can engage in e-learning and convenient Internet use, citizen participation in the community is expected to rise, facilitating digital marketing and online self-study.
(2)Information Technology (IT) Volunteers
To encourage young students in institutes of higher education to learn how to care for their native land diligently after their graduation, teachers and students with specialties are actively encouraged to use their expertise to organize the IT volunteer team and help reduce the digital divide. The volunteers’ services have evolved its scope for years. As of now, comparing with serving computer maintenance in the past, their main focus is to assist the locals in applying digital technology to promote their products, and cultural collections, and to help them use it as a platform for industrial marketing.
(3)Digital Learning Partners
With the concept of college companion system, the Digital Learning Partners Program recruits and fosters college students as learning partners of school children in primary and secondary schools assigned in a DOC. Using video equipment and an online learning platform, the teaching side (college students) can educate the students in primary and secondary schools in real time on a one-to-one basis and on a fixed routine time. Tutoring is done twice a week (2 lessons each time, 45 minutes for each lesson) which focuses on providing lessons for the application of information technology, and teaching consultations to enhance students' interest in learning and promote equality in learning opportunities.
6. The Expected Benefits
(1)By using mobile services, this program accelerates the expansion and the development of information technology that allows individuals to use emerging digital tools for their daily needs, facilitates the use of information for learning, and achieves the universal effect of digital applications.
(2)This program increases the use and applications of digital technology and the learning opportunities of individuals residing in remote areas, allowing them to develop an independent learning attitude, increase information literacy, and develop innovative skills; which will in turn, help them become qualified persons for digital skills.
(3)Focusing on professional resources, this program guides individuals residing in remote areas on how to make good use of information resources, help in the development of their region and improve the local economy through the use of digital technology.
(4)This program boosts the interaction between college students and school children, enhances students' learning motivation in remote areas, promotes equality of learning opportunities, and fosters college students with humanistic solicitude sentiments and positive practical abilities, to achieve the goal of holistic education.