Addressing the Digital Divide in Higher Education

The digital divide is often defined in terms of access to computers and the internet.  However, this definition of the digital divide does not fully capture the extent of the disconnect between people and the technology that makes information available to them.  While the digital divide—in the sense of technology availability—has narrowed significantly in the past decade, there remain a large number of people who are unable to make full use of the internet and its associated applications.  Thus, scholarship on the digital divide has shifted away from providing access toward discussing barriers to inclusion in the “digital society.”  These barriers are new forms of the digital divide that limit both the adoption of the internet and its useful usage by certain social groups.  Consequently, the digital divide has been redefined by van Deursen and van Dijk (2015) to indicate four types of access necessary for utilizing the full potential of the internet and its applications: motivational access, material access, internet skills access, and internet usage access.  These new dimensions of access reveal further divides between urban and rural communities, between majority and minority groups, between higher and lower income populations, and between people with higher and lower levels of educational attainment (Armenta, Serrano, Cabrera, & Conte, 2012; Cohron, 2015).

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