Participation and the Digital Divide, who misses out?

Written summation: Week 4, Participation and the Digital Divide

What is the digital divide?

The world we live in today is a digital world where going online is essential to accessing education, information, government and community services. However, not everyone gets equal access to the same technologies (Howell, 2012). This gap is referred to as the digital divide and as we become more reliant on the digital world, the disadvantage of being offline grows (Ewing, 2016). Despite Internet access improving overall, the digital divide between richer and poorer still exists. Australians with low levels of income, education and employment are generally more digitally excluded. Internet fees have decreased over time but is still difficult to afford for those with fixed incomes. Australia is the third highest Internet user population in the world (Curtin, 2001), proving how much we rely on the digital world. The benefits of being online is infinite, making life easier and more convenient. Having the ability to complete tasks at the click of a button and communicating with others with a few touches on the keyboard has become a necessity rather than a luxury. However, this puts those who are digitally excluded at a greater disadvantage, as they are unable to access essential services.

What should teachers do?

The world goes on assuming the general population has access to the Internet, forgetting about the minority that very much exists. One of the most detrimental things a teacher can do is assume their students have unlimited access to Internet and set homework with that mentality. In order to bridge the digital divide, teachers need to consider students who are unable to access the Internet and provide them with another pathway to complete the required task. For example, if the homework was to research about an animal and to write a summary using Word document, schedule time for the student to access the library after school and contact the parent regarding this matter. An extended due date could be given due to their circumstances and this can take the burden off the student.

 

Additional Inclusion

This video created on ‘Powtoon’ is both informative and engaging, utilising visually appealing cartoons and catchy background music to present the facts about the digital divide.

The digital divide is significantly more apparent in America and this short documentary gives you an insight into the difficulties a family faces when trying to access Internet for educational purposes.

 

List of References 

Bentley, P. (2014). Bridging the digital divide. ABC News. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-02/bridging-the-digital-divide/5566644

Curtin, J. (2001). A Digital Divide in Rural and Regional Australia?. Parliament of Australia.

Ewing, S. (2016). Australia’s digital divide is narrowing, but getting deeper. The Conversation. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/australias-digital-divide-is-narrowing-but-getting-deeper-55232

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration & creativity. South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.

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