Digital Inequality, Digital Divide

Comparison of Digital Divide to Digital Inequality

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Group project Reflection

“Digital Divide.” A term based mostly upon infrastructure; how many computers schools has and the extent of their Internet connectivity.  In essence, it is the gap, or “divide”, between individuals that have and those who do not have access to technology, such as smartphones or cell phones, television, computers or the Internet. The digital divide is an issue that has been around since the 1990’s and has not been resolved. The need to close the digital divide grows in importance every year because being connected is important to everyday life. The digital divide exists between the educated and the uneducated, between socio-economic classes, and, worldwide, between the more and less developed nations. The digital divide is differentiated from digital inequality in that the divide is focused primarily on the statistical data regarding how many people have access to Internet technology

“Digital inequality” a term that describes how technology users access and learn their technical skills in their daily lives. Digital inequality is different from the Digital Divide because it focuses on how a person uses the technology instead of the individual access level.  Hargittai defines Digital Inequality as a spectrum of inequalities across segments of the population depending on several dimensions. Hargittai also identifies four main dimensions (disparities) of digital inequality (2003):

  1. technical means (quality of the equipment being used)
  2. autonomy of use (location of access, freedom to use the medium for one’s preferred activities)
  3. social support networks (availability of others one can turn to for assistance with use, size of networks to encourage use)
  4. purpose of experience (number of years using the technology, types of use patterns)

Digital inequality influences social inequality.  “Washington is an information enigma. Some of the nation’s leading digital-technology companies are headquartered in and around Seattle, yet vast areas of the state are starved of local news. …In short, Washington is a digital state with a rural information ghetto.” (Washington state, Seattle Times)

Our scenario:  We, the Digital Inequality Task Force, have been hired by the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Randy Dorn. He has been given a special allocation of $50M to address digital inequalities in the state of Washington, and he wants us, the Task Force, to consider several options.

  • Install computers in public libraries
  • Expand staffing and resources in public schools
  • Provide computers to individuals in disadvantaged communities
  • Provide high-speed Internet and mobile access to all residents
  • Provide low-cost Internet access to all residents
  • Provide information literacy courses to residents
  • Develop free online educational content to the public

Our alternative ideas were:

  • Provide support and/or create “Internet cafes”
  • Create mobile computer centers

We ranked the ideas:

Our consensus for the number one recommendation: Expand staffing and other resources so that public schools can be open to the public after normal school hours, on weekends, and during the summer months. There are opportunities for the public education system to help assuage this situation by lessening the inequality and closing the divide. First, they can provide access to the school’s computers. Most students have limited access to school computers during school hours, and this time is specifically controlled. Schools could provide open computer hours before and after school and on weekends. This would help with digital inequality because students would have access to some of the most current equipment and technology.  Students (and the public) could increase their skills in using the Internet through practice and receive support from friends and educators. Also, by using the computers at school in a less structured setting they can develop technologic skills through exploration and experimentation that would not normally be allowed in classes with narrow and specific goals. Our second recommendation: Install computers in all public libraries in the state and expand the hours when the computers are available.  Although this option provides the technology and expands hours so the technology is available to the public, it does not include funding for support staff to provide literacy education to those who need it. Number three: Provide high-speed Internet and mobile access for all state residents, this option provides the technology and accessibility but lacks funding for literacy education.  Fourth: Create mobile computer centers, this option provides the technology but lacks funding for literacy education and technology accessibility.  Fifth: Provide information literacy courses to enhance computer skills and enable knowledgeable use of digital technologies.  This option only addresses one vital factor for closing the digital gap: literacy education.  Sixth: Subsidize Internet Service Providers to provide low-cost Internet to all state residents.  This option is ranked 6th because it only addresses one factor for closing the digital gap: technology accessibility. Seventh:  Provide individuals in disadvantaged communities with computers.  This option is ranked 7th because it only provides the technology. It does address technology accessibility or literacy education or the ability to maintain functioning technology.  Eighth: Develop free online educational content, giving first priority to content most relevant to lower socio-economic groups before content that is relevant to the rest of the public.  This option only addresses literacy education. However, education requires technology availability and accessibility, which the funding does not allow for. Lastly, Provide support and/or create “Internet cafes” in urban and rural areas … open 24/7 at no cost to those who qualify, and minimal cost to general public who can afford.  This option is ranked last because it only addresses technology accessibility.

Closing the digital divide is critical for society as a whole.  We need to encourage those digitally unequal to improve their skills with technology and increase their knowledge of all things digital. As our society becomes more dependent on technology those without the skills to access data or utilize data will have to be assisted. Society will need to create a system to provide assistance and to effectively deal with inequalities of digital learning and education. Those without the ability to utilize technology will suffer compared to those with these privileges. The longer society waits to address this issue, the harder it will be to close the gap
As Cooper stated, “…digital technologies change society very quickly. The ability to participate and prosper in the new economy will be severely restricted if a household is cut off from technology for more than a decade” (Cooper, 2004, pg 13).


Bernard, S. (n.d.). Crossing the Digital Divide: Bridges and Barriers to Digital Inclusion. Edutopia. Retrieved from

Cooper, M. (2004). Expanding the digital divide and falling behind in   broadband. Consumer Federation of America and Consumers Union, October. Retrieved from

Hargittai, E. (2003). The digital divide and what to do about it. New Economy Handbook, 821-839.
Retrieved from

Kang, S. & Pamukcu, A. (2009). Digital inequality: Information poverty in the information age. The Greenlining Report, Retrieved from

Washington state’s rural information ghettos. (n.d.).The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 5, 2012, from

AECT Standards


Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to design conditions for learning by applying principles of instructional systems design, message design, instructional strategies, and learner characteristics.

1.1  Instructional Systems Design, Instructional Systems Design (ISD) is an organized procedure that includes the steps of analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating instruction

1.2  Message Design,Message design involves planning for the manipulation of the physical form of the message.


Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to develop instructional materials and experiences using print, audiovisual, computer-based, and integrated technologies.

2.2 Audiovisual Technologies
Audiovisual technologies are ways to produce or deliver materials by using mechanical devices or electronic machines to present auditory and visual messages.

2.3 Computer-Based Technologies
Computer-based technologies are ways to produce or deliver materials using microprocessor-based resources.

2.4 Integrated Technologies
Integrated technologies are ways to produce and deliver materials which encompass several forms of media under the control of a computer.


Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to use processes and resources for learning by applying principles and theories of media utilization, diffusion, implementation, and policy-making.

3.1 Media Utilization
Media utilization is the systematic use of resources for learning.

3.2 Diffusion of Innovations
Diffusion of innovations is the process of communicating through planned strategies for the purpose of gaining adoption.

3.3 Implementation and Institutionalization
Implementation is using instructional materials or strategies in real (not simulated) settings. Institutionalization is the continuing, routine use of the instructional innovation in the structure and culture of an organization.

3.4 Policies and Regulations
Policies and regulations are the rules and actions of society (or its surrogates) that affect the diffusion and use of Instructional Technology.


Candidates demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions to plan, organize, coordinate, and supervise instructional technology by applying principles of project, resource, delivery system, and information management.

4.1 Project Management
Project management involves planning, monitoring, and controlling instructional design and development projects.

4.4 Information Management
Information management involves planning, monitoring, and controlling the storage, transfer, or processing of information in order to provide resources for learning.


Candidates demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions to evaluate the adequacy of instruction and learning by applying principles of problem analysis, criterion-referenced measurement, formative and summative evaluation, and long-range planning.

5.1 Problem Analysis
Problem analysis involves determining the nature and parameters of the problem by using information-gathering and decision-making strategies.

5.4 Long-Range Planning
Long-range planning that focuses on the organization as a whole is strategic planning….Long-range is usually defined as a future period of about three to five years or longer. During strategic planning, managers are trying to decide in the present what must be done to ensure organizational success in the future.


About kimberlyhefty

Hello. My name is Kimberly Hefty and I live in Sammamish, Washington. For the past 23 years I have taught high school and college level mathematics. 13 years ago I started a private tutoring business. I specialize in working with public high school students who are taking math courses "on-line". I work closely with both the students and the local school district. I typically work with 40-50 students per week. I also have 2 children ages 14 and 23. My daughter just graduated from Elon University in North Carolina. My son plays competitive golf and premiere soccer so most of my weekends are spent at either soccer or golf tournaments. I am excited to be completing the Master's In Educational Technology Program from BSU (M.E.T.) Spring 2015! Through this program I have gained a better understanding of educational technology and it’s applications. I believe that the knowledge that I have gained will be beneficial personally, as well as to my students. With these skills that I have learned in the Educational Technology program, I hope to help myself and my students be successful in future endeavors. The M.E.T. program has allowed me to create an environment for all of us, my students along with myself, to gain skills for education, employment, and existence.
This entry was posted in 1.1 Instructional Systems Design, 1.2 Message Design, 2.2 Audiovisual Technologies, 2.3 Computer-Based Technologies, 2.4 Integrated Technologies, 3.1 Media Utilization, 3.2 Diffusion of Innovations, 3.3 Implementation and Institutionalization, 3.4 Policies and Regulations, 4.1 Project Management, 4.4 Information Management, 5.1 Problem Analysis, 5.4 Long-Range Planning, STANDARD 1 DESIGN, STANDARD 2 DEVELOPMENT, STANDARD 3 UTILIZATION, STANDARD 4 MANAGEMENT, STANDARD 5 EVALUATION, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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