Understanding the Digital Divide

A Closer Examination of the Application of Web 2.0 Technologies by Undergraduate Students.

Dr. Liam Morgan, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

Presentation on the challenge notion of digital natives. Educause Horizons report and UNESCO CERI report all contributing to these intense debates on change in education but there is a gap between rhetoric and reality.

Generation Y characteristics include multiasking, dissatisfaction with student experience and familiar with technology. These traits are causing tension for lecturers and teachers . JISC report (2007) on student ICT skills demonstrates that students report higher ICT literacy than teachers. Students use social networking but how are they using it for learning? Students know they want more ICT in education but don’t know for what purpose. Skene (2007) and Kennedy (2009) found that students/this group of students ie Generation Y using ICT but in narrow way.

Surveyed 36 students, all 1st year undergraduates. Second group was staff who had had more than 10 years experience in education as teachers. Used questionnaires to ascertain use of ICT and ownership. Asked them to comment on lecturers’ ICT use.

Results confirmed other survey data (ie from published reports). Students using internet regularly to communicate in a variety of ways. All owned computers. Staff spent time online on work email primarily. Less time on social networking. Tried to ask questions that identified complex tasks eg uploading photos on Facebook = complicated.  However a lot of staff used Skype which was considered to be a complex task. Never had staff development or training on Skype. All about perceived use and difficulty.

Students were not being exposed to meaningful models of web2.0 tools ie blogs. Most lectures were still just using powerpoint and video. Poor feedback on lecturers’ use of technology. Lecturers said they wanted to use it but needed mentoring, modelling and other staff development.

Davis (1989) technology acceptance model used here. Less of a digital divide in terms of use between students and staff, but issues can in perceived usefulness. Students were not using web2.0 technologies in education because they did not see usefulness modelled by lecturers. Staff were not using because could not see usefulness because also did not have models. Therefore need formal instruction using new skills, including information literacy, usual literacy and technological literacy. As supported by Educause report.

Key message –Universities must demonstrate leadership and provide educational models of how to use and apply these technologies. And leadership from central and faculty based support teams. Also demonstrate benefits of these..

[This is a really important message. Leadership example in terms of modelling the way. There is a VERY important message for LDC here]

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