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Gamma Group: Digital Inequality Outline

Gamma Group: Digital Inequality Outline

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Published by Alyson Nelson
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Published by: Alyson Nelson on Jul 15, 2012
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Digital Inequality Outline
I. Definition / Discussion of terms
There is a continuous drive for 21st century learning. States are now starting to require the useof technology for learning resources which students can use anytime and anywhere.Unfortunately, the issue that arises is that students may not have access to these resources.There may be inequalities between individuals, households, businesses, and geographic areasat different socioeconomic and other demographic levels. With digital inequality occurringeverywhere, budgets may have to change to accommodate the needs of these students. A group of educational technology students have come together to research digital inequality.They are placed in a scenario in which they were provided with funds to improve and addressdigital inequalities. As members of a Digital Inequality Task Force hired by the Superintendentof Public Instruction, they are to address seven options and suggest other possibilities.Before they make their ultimate decision they decided to define digital inequality. In order todefine digital inequality it is beneficial to first explain digital divide. Digital divide is the gapbetween those who have regular, effective access to digital technologies and those who do not(1). For instance, digital divide refers to any inequalities between groups in terms of access toor knowledge of information and communication technologies (ICT), whereas digital inequalityencompasses the differences in formal access to the Internet amongst a population (2).Statistics show that the use of computers in and out of school is soaring. The U.S. CensusBureau took a survey in 2003 on the number of students using computers at home versus atschool. The results show that students’ use of computers at home was sixty-eight percent andcomputer use at school was eighty-three percent (3). This shows that something must be doneto provide those who do not have computer access at home to profit from the boomingtechnology.REFERENCES1) Hargittai, E. (2003). The digital divide and what to do about it. New Economy Handbook,821-839. Retrieved from http ://www .eszter .com /research /pubs /hargittai-digitaldivide .pdf   2) DiMaggio, P., Hargittai, E., Celeste, C., & Shafers, S. (2004). From unequal access todifferentiated use: A literature review and agenda for research on digital inequality. Social
Inequality, 355-400. Retrieved fromhttp ://www .eszter .com /research /pubs /dimaggio -etal- digitalinequality .pdf  3) DeBell, M., Chapman, C. (2006). Computer and Internet Use by Students in 2003: Statistical Analysis Report, 53. Retrieved from http ://nces .ed .gov /pubs 2006/2006065.pdf  
II. Ranking of options given
Install computers inall public libraries inthe state and expandthe hours when thecomputers areavailable.-Free computer usage for all-Free internet access-Technical assistancemust also be hired-Must provide fundsfor maintenance-Rising computer software fees1 - This option wasranked highestbecause the publiclibrary system is themost convenient wayfor families to accesscomputers. Mostpublic librariesalready havecomputers available.Expand staffing andother resources sothat public schoolscan be open to thepublic after normalschool hours, onweekends, andduring the summer months.-Provide more jobs-Free internet access-May condoneloitering-Must provide fundsfor staffing &maintenance2 - This option wasranked 2nd because,after the publiclibrary, public schoolsare also convenientto most families.Some issues ariseduring school hoursthough, whencomputers may notbe available to thepublic.Provide individuals indisadvantagedcommunities withcomputers.-Provides an equalopportunity-Provides access toonline learninginstitutions-May not know howto use them to their full potential (mayhave to providetraining)-May still not haveInternet access7 - This option wasranked last. Althoughit would help mostfamilies to havecomputers, if theycannot afford Internetservice or other programs, it may notbe of much use. Also, without propeeducation, it may notbe a goodinvestment. It would
be better to invest inthe already availablepublic accesscomputers.Provide high-speedInternet and mobileaccess for all stateresidents.-Better communication-Createsopportunities for internet basedprofessions-More technicalissues may arise-Individuals may nothave access todevices (computers,etc)-State and countyinfrastructure maynot be in place toprovide access.6 - This option wasranked 6th. Even if Internet was providedfor all state residents,individuals may nothave access tocomputers or other devices to use theInternet. It wouldalso be a very costlyoption.Subsidize InternetService Providers toprovide low-costInternet to all stateresidents.-More residents willbe able to takeadvantage of theservice-Not necessarilybetter quality-May still not beaffordable.-May raise prices for non-subsidizedcustomers5 - This option wasranked 5th. Low-costInternet would helpmore familiesconnect, but it stillmay not be affordablefor all residents. Itwould be a moreeconomic option thanproviding free Internetaccess.Provide informationliteracy courses toenhance computer skills and enableknowledgeable use of digital technologies.-An educatedcommunity providesa safer & influentialsociety-Learning technologyskills may help toprovide additional jobopportunities-Not necessarily freeto all-If individuals do nothave access, then itdoes not provideequal opportunity3 - This option wasranked 3rd. It wouldbe beneficial to havepatrons who can usethe technologyappropriately andproductively in thepublic library or school setting.Develop free onlineeducational content,giving first priority tocontent most relevantto lower socioeconomicgroups before contentthat is relevant to therest of the public.-Educating society-Content couldprovide jobs training-Not available to all-Individuals may nothave access toInternet/devices4 - This option wasranked 4th. Although, the benefitof educating thecommunity is great,this option would nothelp those who donot have access tothe Internet or other devices.
III. Other alternatives

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