Digital divide
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Being informed about digital divide issues will help the E-Learning instructors and program administrators design practical instructional activities to support learners’ needs and make online ...

Being informed about digital divide issues will help the E-Learning instructors and program administrators design practical instructional activities to support learners’ needs and make online learning accessible and rewarding for everyone.

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Digital divide Document Transcript

  • 1. AzimzadehREL7001-5 1 Digital Divide The purpose of this paper is to explore the digital divide issues and discuss howelectronic learning (E-Learning) educators may approach those concerns to assist learnersand facilitate online learning. Technological advancements have had a profound impacton peoples’ everyday activities including learning and communications. However, thetechnological disparities between the learners who are technology-literate and those withlimited or no technology experience have been creating some challenging situations forthe online instructors. Being informed about issues such as learners’ internet access,computer literacy, internet knowledge, disabilities, and internet-related ethical issues willhelp the E-Learning instructors and program administrators design practical instructionalactivities to support learners’ needs and make online learning accessible and rewardingfor everyone.Web Accessibility One of the digital divide issues is learner’s web accessibility. Based on theliterature located for this paper, the term digital divide has been defined as “the gapbetween those students who have access to digital technology at home and those who donot” (Sun and Metros, 2011, p. 154). For instance, some low-income families might notbe able to meet the expenses of the internet access services. For this reason, Sun andMetros (2011) referred to Milheim (2006), who suggested that underprivileged familiesand schools should receive sufficient support from the government and other sponsors sothat all students can have access to high quality education. Now, what is an effectivestrategy for E-Learning educators to approach such digital divide issues? In order to
  • 2. AzimzadehREL7001-5 2assist students with limited internet access, instructors might consider allowing learnersto submit their assignments during a designated period of time rather than a specific time.Computer and Internet Knowledge Some other digital divide issues include learners’ diverse computer and internetliteracies. While the new generation brings various digital strengths and knowledge toschool, some other learners from different socioeconomic levels may not have sufficienttechnological literacy necessary to take advantage of the newest technologiesincorporated into the online educational settings (Henderson, 2011). Henderson pointedout that the educators might consider utilizing “visual, audio, spatial, gestural, andlinguistic elements of text” rather than just plain text resources in order to enhancelearning and performance of the diverse learners (p. 154). For instance, YouTube videos,“how-to” tutorials, and narrated PowerPoint presentations might be helpful tools to assistlearners with different technological experiences. In addition, based on the sociallearning theory, learners can socialize to construct knowledge, share their experiences,and teach each other (Hill, Song, & West, 2009). Engaging learners in authenticpractices enables them to learn various technological skills, which may take placepersonally as well as virtually.Learners with Disabilities Furthermore, the most serious digital divide issue is related to learners withvarious disabilities. Wald, Draffan, and Seale (2009) conducted a research to explore theE-Learning experiences of disabled learners attending a British university. The purposeof the aforementioned investigation was to discover how to make E-Learning accessiblefor all learners and how to provide suitable technologies and effective learning support in
  • 3. AzimzadehREL7001-5 3order to assist learners with different types of disabilities. Although many students(digital generation) stated that they were confident in using the technology associatedwith their courses, a few students mentioned that some PDF files and PowerPoint slideswere not accessible due to their disorderly contents. In addition, some other studentswith dexterity, hearing, and visual impairments stated that they were not able to usecertain media players, online podcasts, and videos. Wald et al. (2009) added that learnerswith disabilities need additional time to cope with their health and physical conditions; asa result, having to deal with substandard online course materials may affect theirperformance and productivity. Reviewing the above mentioned issues regarding thelearners with disabilities, online educators might consider creating resources that learnerscan access without problems. For instance, rather than attaching very large files,embedding the PowerPoint slides or videos in social media websites will enable learnersto access the E-Learning materials with a simple link. In addition, to assist learners withvisual problems, it would be helpful to allow the users change the font type, size, andcolor while enabling other modifications features (Wald et al., 2009). Altogether, E-Learning instructors should consider the learners’ abilities and limitations whendesigning the E-Learning materials.Ethical and Legal Concerns The digital divide also involves some ethical issues. Weadon (2009) pointed outthat etiquette is one of the important factors that should be considered whilecommunicating and learning online. In such cases, an effective instructional strategymay be to provide guidelines while stating the expected behaviors from online learners.Weadon further added that some legal issues related to the learners’ cultures should also
  • 4. AzimzadehREL7001-5 4be taken into consideration. For instance, some families might prefer not to post theirchildren’s pictures or projects on the web. E-Learning mentors should ensure that theyhave the permission for posting students artifacts or pictures on the internet. Thefollowing video contains information about ethical issues in E-Learning:http://youtu.be/N134hn-KfDo Summary There are a number of digital divide concerns that E-Learning educators shouldcogitate when offering online courses. Some online learners might have limited or nointernet access at home. Some other learners might have problems related to technologyand internet familiarity. Learners with disabilities or other health conditions mightrequire special technical support. The other concerns include ethical and legal issues inE-Learning. In all of the above mentioned cases, E-Learning instructors should ensure toprovide support and accommodations to meet the diverse students’ learning needs whilefacilitating online learning.
  • 5. AzimzadehREL7001-5 5 ReferencesHenderson, R. (2011). Classroom pedagogies, digital literacies and the home-school digital divide. International Journal of Pedagogies & Learning, 6(2), 152-161. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1022283005?accountid=28180Hill, J. R., Song, L., & West, R. E. (2009). Social Learning Theory and Web-Based Learning Environments: A Review of Research and Discussion of Implications. American Journal Of Distance Education, 23(2), 88-103. doi:10.1080/08923640902857713Milheim, K. L. (2006). Not just an access issue: Further analysis of the digital divide from a socio-economic perspective. Harrisburg: Penn State UniversityMullen, R., & Wedwick, L. (2008). Avoiding the digital abyss: Getting started in the classroom with YouTube, digital stories, and blogs. The Clearing House, 82(2), 66-69. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy1.ncu.edu/docview/196844606?accountid=28180Sun, J., & Metros, S. E. (2011). The digital divide and its impact on academic performance. US-China Education Review A, (2a), 153-161. Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=7333b720-8983-4782- b1da-5e95acfd348f%40sessionmgr112&vid=4&hid=23Wald, M., Draffan, E. A., & Seale, J. (2009). Disabled learners experiences of E- learning. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 18(3), 341-361. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/205848003?accountid=28180Weadon, M. (2009, January 13). Ethical issues in elearning [Video file]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/N134hn-KfDo