The photo ” Digital divide and people with disabilities” (Law Office of Lainey Feingold, 2013)….
As digital technologies pervade every aspect of modern Australian society, I had presumed the digital divide only affected developing countries. However, it became clear that despite the rapid growth of internet use in Australia many people continue to be digitally excluded (Alam & Salahuddin, 2015, p. 1; Walton, Kop, Spriggs, & Fitzgerald, 2013). Factors contributing most to the digital divide in Australia are income, age, tertiary education, and indigenous heritage (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2007; Alam & Salahuddin, 2015). This inability to participate in a digital world results in disadvantages in terms of benefitting from a quality education, obtaining critical information, getting employment, socially connecting, and accessing many health and financial services that are essential to living in modern day Australia ( Regional Telecommunications Review, as cited in Walton et al., 2013).
I began to understand that although a lot has been achieved in terms of increasing the community’s material access to technology, such as mobile services, Ka band satellites, and the philanthropic works of various individuals, the digital divide still exists. This is because a significant number of disadvantaged people do not have access to the skills, tools, or language needed to be digitally engaged; in short, the “access gap” might shrink, but a “fluency gap” might remain (Kearney, as cited in Walton et al., 2013; Selwyn, 2004; Burkhardt et al., 2003). Therefore, the digital divide is the inequality between individuals, businesses, and geographic areas, not just in terms of access to information technology (IT), but also in the capability to use IT, which affects the outcomes of exploiting IT (University of South Australia, 2013; Howell, 2012. p. 56; Wei, Teo, Chan & Tan, 2011). It is important therefore, that both digital access and digital literacy issues are addressed in order to bridge the digital divide.
I now appreciate the importance of incorporating digital literacy in schools to help bridge the digital divide between home, school and community. As a future educator, I must support students who do not have access to technology at home and provide ample opportunity for both material access to technology and digital literacy within the school. Being digitally inclusive is not just about accessing digital technology, but using digital technology to achieve everyday tasks and goals which is necessary to participate fully and prosper in a digital world.
Total word count: 384 – In-text references: 61 = 323
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2007). The “Digital Divide” (No. 4147.4.55.001). Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au
Alam, K., & Salahuddin, M. (2015). Assessing digital divide and its determinants: a case study of households’ perception in the Western Downs region of Queensland.
Burkhardt, G., Monsour, M., Valdez, G., Gunn, C., Dawson, M., Lemke, C., . . . Martin, C. (2003). enGauge 21st century skills: Literacy in the digital age. Naperville, IL: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory
Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT. Digital Pedagogies for Collaboration and Creativity. Victoria: Oxford University Press.
Law Office of Lainey Feingold. (2013). Digital divide and people with disabilities [Image]. Retrieved from http://lflegal.com/
Selwyn, N. (2004). Reconsidering political and popular understandings of the digital divide. New Media & Society, 6(3), 341-362.
University of South Australia. (2013, February 4) . Using Satellites to overcome the digital divide [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bmlpx887Du8
Walton, P., Kop, T., Spriggs, D., & Fitzgerald, B. (2013). A digital inclusion: empowering all Australians. Australian Journal of Telecommunications and the Digital Economy, 1(1), 9. http://dx.doi.org/. DOI: 10.7790/ajtde.v1n1.9
Wei, K.-K., Teo, H.-H., Chan, H. C., & Tan, B. C. (2011). Conceptualizing and testing a social cognitive model of the digital divide. Information Systems Research, 22(1), 170-187.