Having not previously looked at the concept of Digital Differences, this topic was a deeply interesting one to explore. One of the most useful resources at my disposal for analysing how I might be placed on the ‘continuum’ of low to high levels of digital literacy – and thus impacted by a digital divide – was the FutureLearn MOOC. The discussion which arose from my question on whether Digital Differences tend to be purely negative. Several learners also enrolled in the course contributed to this discussion which went a long way to framing digital differences, as I understand them, as fundamentally linked to an individuals facilities, capabilities, and inequalities as experienced in the offline setting.
I commented on Chloe’s and Iarina’s posts on Digital Differences – both of which were really interesting reads and helped me understand the concept of digital differences from a slightly different perspective. Looking at how individual factors can be used to analyse digital differences – age, education, race, class and so on further leads to the conceptualisation of digital differences as a result of inequalities offline, and how we can benefit as a result (van Deursen and Helsper, 2015).
Reflecting further on this, my position and ability to use the internet is very fortunate. I have been lucky enough to have access to the internet from a young age and been supported through my education in learning digital skills. Indeed, as alluded to by Nick in the Learning in the Network AGe MOOC, this level of access is not unilateral which can disadvantage those without digital skills. The web can reflect inequalities found offline which only works to exacerbate existing digital differences (Dutton and Reisdorf, 2017). In overcoming digital differences we can significantly increase the quality of education; the web should be for all, equally.
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Dutton, W. and Reisdorf, B. (2017). Cultural divides and digital inequalities: attitudes shaping Internet and social media divides. Information, Communication & Society, pp.1-21.
van Deursen, A. and Helsper, E. (2015). The Third-Level Digital Divide: Who Benefits Most from Being Online?. Communication and Information Technologies Annual, pp.29-52.