In our digital world, there exists a gulf between those who have readily available access to digital technology and the internet and those who do not and it is called the digital divide. This digital divide exists typically between those who live in urban areas as opposed to rural, between those who are educated and those who are not, between socioeconomic groups and between the more and less industrially developed nations (Rouse, 2014).
A research report by the Australian Bureau of statistics in 2014 showed that 83% of all households have internet access (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, 2015). Household income and geography are both major factors in internet access, with 98% of households with incomes of $120,000 or more, having internet access compared to 57% of households with incomes of less than $40,000, and 85% of households in capital cities with internet compared to 79% of households outside the capital (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, 2015).
This is important for educators because the digital world has become more and more integrated with our daily lives and being able to readily access the internet has an effect on the economy, education, employment opportunities, and improving general well-being. Without closing the divide, lower-income groups would face increased marginalisation and social exclusion. To provide equal opportunity for education and future for students, it is crucial that educators are aware of and attempt to close the digital divide in the classroom. Some students who have ready digital access sometimes come with a high digital fluency, whereas their peers may not have similar resources and thus have lower digital fluency and thus less opportunities in the future (Tustin, 2016). To bridge the digital divide in the classroom, educators should assess what resources they have and if possible try to provide their students with digital resources required, or get them to bring their own (Tustin, 2016). However it should be noted that simply giving the students digital resources will not close the digital divide, and that teaching strategies need to be adapted and considered. Not all learning processes require technology and a balance should be struck (Day, 2013).
In conclusion, educators should be aware of what the digital divide is and how it affects their teaching strategies, their students learning and the impact it has on their future opportunities but any attempts to bridge the digital divide needs some consideration on whether it is necessary.
Australia’s digital divide is narrowing, but getting deeper.
What is the Digital Divide’s Impact on Learing.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. (2015). Public inquiry into final access determinations for fixed line services . Retrieved from https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/FSR%20FAD%20Final%20Decision%20Report%20-%20Public%20Version.pdf
Day, L. (2013). Bridging the New Digital Divide. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/bridging-the-new-digital-divide-lori-day
Ewing, S. (2016). Australia’s digital divide is narrowing, but getting deeper. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/australias-digital-divide-is-narrowing-but-getting-deeper-55232
O’Hara, S., & Pritchard, R. (2014). What is the Digital Divide’s Impact on Learning. Retrieved from http://www.education.com/reference/article/what-digital-divides-impact-learning/
Rouse, M. (2014). Digital Divide. Retrieved from http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/digital-divide
Tustin, R. (2016). Bridging the digital divide in education. Retrieved from http://study.com/academy/lesson/bridging-the-digital-divide-in-education.html