The Digital Divide refers to the social challenges of inequitable technology distribution and access. Educators must recognize that the digital divide extends beyond the ideas of physical allocation of computers and networks. The purpose of this chapter is to examine more closely the social, cultural and educational dimensions of the digital divide. The social dimension of the divide is considered with regard to societal access of public information and the Internet. An examination of cultural implications follows, highlighting ethnicity and gender issues. Educational dimensions examine literacies and online content, home computer use, school computer use and teacher readiness before presentation of recommendations for addressing these dimensions.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Media Literacy: Media literacy is “To decode, evaluate, analyze and produce both print and electronic media” (Aufderheide, 1993, p.1).
Information Literacy: Information literacy is to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use the information effectively (Bishop, 2003).
Digital Divide: The digital divide is the limitations of computer technology, network availability, and usage for marginalized social groups, such as poor and rural communities, women, underrepresented cultural groups, illiterates, and individuals with disabilities.
Educational Dimensions of the Digital Divide: Educational dimensions of the digital divide are the barriers to acquiring and using the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to make meaningful use of computer and network technologies.
Social and Cultural Dimensions of the Digital Divide: Social and cultural dimensions of the digital divide are the challenges individuals within social groups face as they access and use information with computer and network technologies to impact their daily lives.