Perceptions of the different meanings and issues surrounding the term digital divide have set the scene for policy development in various countries. In recent times, broader analysis of the meanings and problems have altered understanding, and a new range of initiatives to tackle perceived problems is being devised in the United Kingdom (UK) and its regions. In what follows, digital divide perspectives are outlined and action to close the divide in Scotland is discussed.
Bridging The Digital Divide In Scotland
The Scottish Household Survey shows that access to the Internet in Scotland is growing quickly. People who are excluded comprise the unemployed, those with low incomes, low levels of education, and poor literacy and numeracy levels. The Scottish Executive, the Scottish Parliament, the voluntary sector, and other organizations in Scotland have designed a range of initiatives to tackle problems associated with the digital divide. The Scottish framework is based on raising awareness, widening access, increasing skills, building support, developing content, and motivating and involving communities.
Key Terms in this Chapter
E-Governance: Communication by electronic means to place power in the hands of citizens to determine what laws need to be made and how these laws should be written.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs): While often meaning different things in different timescales, places, and contexts, ICTs describe all media and a mix of converging technology tools involved in the dynamic transfer and storage of analogue and digital data. In addition to Internet-based technologies such as computers, telephones, and networks, ICTs in a broad sense include digital television, cable and satellite technologies, and music formats (e.g., MP3), DVDs, and CDs. ICTs may be used to facilitate remote human interaction for good and evil purposes. In the context of this article, ICTs are used to increase human communication; broaden education, literacy, and knowledge; and enhance social, cultural, political, and economic capacity. It is hoped that this will help address problems attributed to the so-called digital divide.
E-Government: The ability of government to design and use ICTs to interact internally and externally with government bodies, citizens, and businesses in order to deliver integrated electronic public services.
Digital Divide: Refers to individuals or members of communities and groups whose social, cultural, political, economic, or personal circumstances constrain access to electronic communications or limit benefit to their lives from contemporary electronic technologies.
E-Democracy: The use of electronic communications to support and increase democratic engagement and deepen and widen citizen participation.
Digital inclusion: Strategies and actions to assure more equal access to digital technologies and Web facilities and to strengthen effective, meaningful, and beneficial use for all members of the public in their day-to-day lives.
E-Commerce: The buying and selling of commercial goods; the conduct of financial transactions using digital communications and electronic networks such as the World Wide Web; and aspects of sharing of business information, maintenance of business relationships, and provision of information services.
Distance Learning: Learners are connected with educational resources beyond the confines of a traditional classroom, and instructed via computer-mediated communication and different types of electronic technologies that can overcome the constraints of distance, time, physical presence, or location that separate instructors and students. Learning may be synchronous or asynchronous.