The Digital Divide is the gulf between those that have access and use of technology and those that do not. The Digital Divide is a multilayered issue impacting low-income persons, low literacy persons, seniors, and persons with disabilities. The new emphasis is on whether people know how to use technological devices and the Internet for multiple purposes, especially to function and progress in daily society.
This dissertation study focuses on technology readiness in preparation for higher education, specifically examining: 1) experiences students had prior to attending the HP3 program, 2) factors that influenced student preparedness for engaging in college-level technology based curriculum, and 3) current experiences within the HP3 program. The study used mixed-methods to explore 27 participants’ experiences using survey and interview data.
Overall, the students in the program, despite low income status, were fairly high in Technology Readiness. Students were capable and experienced in using technology for personal reasons prior to attending college and were aware of the college and community technology supports available to them.
Students were challenged by the need to use specific technological platforms within the college curriculum. Learning the specific technologies needed to succeed in completing the HP3 program, and accessing needed supports to do so, proved to be a challenge when considering the dynamics of community contexts in which students live.It is not surprising to find that, through a quantitative multiple regression analysis, results indicate that higher levels of Grit predicted successful GPAs among this sample.
In addition, results related to current experiences of the program reveal that the HP3 program staff go above and beyond to support the learning needs of their students through adjusting program components throughout their experience. Future directions include research on empowerment related to technology.
Understanding the Digital Divide:
The Digital Divide is essentially a social phenomenon that is best described as the broad disparities that exist between those who have access to and knowledge of how to use technology, and those who do not.
According to the Facts and Figures report of 2015, issued by International Telecommunication Union, the world has seen an eight fold increase in the number of people who have access to the Internet.
This exponential growth is worth noting, but we cannot forget that 4 billion people are still completely offline. Despite the gains made in closing the Digital Divide, there are still populations without access to technology.
Internet Usage Statistics for North America:
The Internet is used around the world by millions of people engaging in a variety of activities; however, not all Americans have access to the Internet. Internet statistics for North America consists of 357, 178, 284 and 213, 075, 500 Facebook users, 36% of those users in the United States.
In America, 53% of population have Internet access and 47% are without Internet access. People from the United States are more privileged than others around the world. There continues to be a measurable gap in America for non-Internet users. Internet World Statistics (2015).
Chicago Internet Use:
Crain’s Chicago Business, compiling data from the city of Chicago in 2013, found that broadband access varied widely. The neighborhood with the least amount of access was Hermosa, located on the northwest side of the city; it reported 36% of usage. North side neighborhoods had the most access: North center had 94% access, followed by Wrigleyville, Lakeview, and Lincoln Park at 93%. A majority of the Westside and the Southeast side had about 50% access.
Internet Use By Income:
According to the Pew research center, 87% of all adults in the U.S use the Internet. However, aggregating the data using income levels reveals that only 78% of adults making less than $30,000 per year use the Internet, while at the 50,000 level and up, more than 90% of adults are online.
Furthermore, only 68% of adults who did not graduate from high school use the Internet in the U.S, but adults with a college diploma use the Internetat a rate of 97% Internet.
Percentage of U.S Households with Internet Access:
Current census data (2001, 2003, 2007, 2009) and the American Community Survey (2013) reveals that in 2013, households with Internet access included: 74% where the race of the head of household consisted of white alone 77%, Black alone 61%, Asian alone 86%, Native American Alone 58%, Hispanic of any race 66%.
Theories Seeking to Explain the Digital Divide:
here are several theories that can be used in an effort to understand why the Digital Divide persists. However, three main theories guide much of the empirical, theoretical, and practical literature on this topic. These theories include the social inclusion theory, the social cognition theory, and the constructivism theory.
To attend to the multifaceted nature of the research questions of this study, a sequential mixed-methods approach was used (Creswell, 1994). This section will explain the overall research design, provide a thorough description of the program students are participating in, an in-depth description of the quantitative measures, as well as the qualitative measures, and protocols used. A final description of data trustworthiness is explained in an effort to increase the validity, credibility of data analysis, and interpretation of findings.
This study used a narrative approach for analyzing interviews in order to understand the lived stories of the students prior to and during their time at NLU. Narrative approach is defined by Michelle Crossley (2006) “the Narrative as an ‘Organizing Principle’ for Human Life but it is not just the fact that people tell stories in making sense of themselves and others.
A narrative psychological approach goes far deeper than that. For example, central to this approach, is the development of a phenomenological understanding of the unique order of meaning constitutive of human consciousness.
Overall the purpose of this study is to expand upon an understanding of the Digital Divide as it relates to understanding how students are being prepared for college by identifying the factors that contribute to technology readiness in preparation for higher education.
There are two main areas of inquiry: 1) understanding students’ current experiences with technology-based curriculum in a college program, and 2) understanding what factors influence students’ preparedness for engaging in college-level technology-based curriculum.
The following sections of results are presented in an order that makes logical sense for answering these research questions, beginning first with a description of the sample by demographics and an assessment of quantitative measure reliability and validity.
Source: National Louis University
Author: Gloria D. Mullons