Exploring Digital Differences

Living on the web has a clear set of identifiable advantages, as covered last week on my blog. However, when access to the web is difficult this has a detrimental effect on individuals (Robinson et al., 2015); thus leading to digital differences. This then reflects inequalities within society onto the web (Badger, 2013) – which in turn allows us to understand how macro factors can play into digital differences. Digital Differences can be understood as factors which compound inequalities and can have a profound impact on our learning networks.

Primarily, Digital Differences can impact to a significant extent the capability an individual has in terms of digital aptitude. Indeed, those on the lower part of the digital divide are significantly more likely to be a digital visitor, compared to the digital residents who likely have the knowledge to engage in a non-trivial and positive manner with online communities (White and Cornu, 2011). The assertation presented in the FutureLearn MOOC (section 1.12) that digital differences can impact learning networks is especially valuable to consider in reference to different characteristics of those seeking education online, and their relative positions along the digital divide.

Using the factors presented in the MOOC, I am lucky to have come from a social context in which I have had access to the internet from a young age. Further to this, my education level and digital literacy level have afforded a positive impact on my learning facilitated through the internet; being from the somewhat more advantages side of the digital divide. My ‘digital differences’ – living in the UK from a fairly middle-class background means I sit into the ideology of the Western user. However, this does not mean that my interaction with the web is inherently of a better quality than of methods of interaction; rather more focused education.

Word Count: 299

Badger, E. (2013). How the Internet Reinforces Inequality in the Real World. [online] CityLab. Available at: https://www.citylab.com/life/2013/02/how-internet-reinforces-inequality-real-world/4602/ [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Robinson, L., Cotten, S., Ono, H., Quan-Haase, A., Mesch, G., Chen, W., Schulz, J., Hale, T. and Stern, M. (2015). Digital inequalities and why they matter. Information, Communication & Society, 18(5), pp.569-582.

White, D. and Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. [online] Firstmonday.org. Available at: http://firstmonday.org/article/view/3171/3049 [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

3 thoughts to “Exploring Digital Differences”

  1. An interesting read Tom, thank you! I like the interactive element too! I notice you start to unpick learning the context of digital differences, and this is an interesting point. You note you’ve come from a social background where you haven’t been restricted, but I wonder if you have thought much about learning without the web in the current age and where it might take place? Like this for example. This is fascinating!

    1. Thanks Tom! I think the context for digital differences is a really important factor as it frames much of our activity online. The picture is fascinating – a really cool way of teaching digital skills when there isnt the digital facility!

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