Third-Level Digital Divide in English Teaching and Learning

Third-Level Digital Divide in English Teaching and Learning

Zhonggen Yu (Beijing Language and Culture University, Beijing, China)
DOI: 10.4018/IJICTE.2018070106

Abstract

This article describes how information and communication technologies (ICT) are growing important in English teaching and learning. Based on the model of digital divide, this article focuses on the third-level digital divide. Through interview and large-scale survey by using a questionnaire designed based on a digital divide model, this article attempts to determine the gender differences in the third-level digital divide in English teaching and learning, together with correlations between attitude toward ICT, educational level and economic status. It is concluded that (1) there are significant gender differences in the third-level digital divide in English language learning and teaching; (2) there is a significant positive correlation between attitudes toward ICT and the third-level digital divide in English learning and teaching; (3) there is significant positive correlation between educational level and third-level digital divide in English learning and teaching; (4) there is significant positive correlation between economic status and the third-level digital divide in English learning and teaching. Advantages and disadvantages of this article and future research directions were also discussed.
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Theoretical Framework

The Digital Divide was defined as a gap between those accessing new information technologies and those who did not. The term also characterized the differences between people effectively using ICT and those who cannot effectively use ICT (Sipior et al., 2002).

Economic considerations that should be taken into account when evaluating the impact on the digital divide (Connolly et al., 2017). Lower economically developed areas may be less ICT supported compared with higher developed areas. The theoretical framework of this study is built on digital divide, where three levels of ICT-aided learning conditions are illustrated in Figure 1 (Hohlfeld et al., 2008).

As shown in Figure 1, the theory of digital divide separates ICT-aided learning into three levels, i.e., educational infrastructure, use of ICT in the classroom and individual student use of ICT.

Figure 1.

Three levels of digital divide

The major concern of Level One is the infrastructure of educational institutes, such as the expenditure on ICT, the budget, the hardware arrangements, software alignment, the cable and wireless Internet connection.

ICT could empower teachers and learners, foster the development of educational policies and skills, improve teaching and learning processes, involve students in learning activities, intensify learning interest; academic staff believe that ICT could facilitate communication between teachers and students, reduce teaching pressure and integrate teaching contents into discussion (Alammary, 2012). The infrastructure of ICT is therefore important for its use in teaching and learning.

Level Two focuses on frequency of use of ICT by teachers and students, which mainly takes place in the classroom. The digital divide on this level has been studied by Hillier (2017), where the technology gap between people who have technology and those without technology have been discussed and computer use at school and home has also been identified.

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