Digitally Denied …
The Digitally Denied
The term digital divide refers to two distinct groups, the haves and the have-nots, which are basically those who are wired or have access, and those that are not and do not have access to the internet. The digital divide, as it relates to Critical Race Theory (CRT) could be described as the digitally denied. Critical Race Theory recognizes that racism is embedded in the very fabric and systems in our society. The digitally denied are individuals that do not have sufficient access to the internet, such as broadband access in the home, those who are constrained by lack of technology and technological expertise in their school or community, those who don’t have IT support staff to keep hardware and software updated and teachers trained on new technologies, and those who have not had the opportunity to make technology a “part of their personal space, tailored to their needs.” (Dede, 1995)
The Digitally Denied in Home and Community
First, the digitally denied have differential access to technology in the home or community. A report from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) shows that 54.9% of white households have broadband access as opposed to black households that have 36.4%. Overall, at the time of the report, 67% of white households had access to the internet (which included dial-up) as opposed to black households at 44.9%. The NTIA conducted a longitudinal analysis, collected data seven times between 1994 and 2007 and found that there are substantial gaps in physical availability of access based on income and race.
While libraries, community centers, and friends’ houses do provide additional opportunities for the digitally denied to connect, they come with another set of barriers. Local libraries have limited hours, a host of rules and regulations, lack of technological expertise, and limitations on the amount of time that individuals may use the computer. Students that need to “live” in a digital world are truly only scratching the surface in this environment. Community centers are rarely visited by our youth and do not have mentors, or assistance to help students reach a higher level of learning in regard to technology.
The Digitally Denied in Education
The digitally denied in education is a sad state of affairs. In low socioeconomic status (SES) schools, students are taught by teachers that have received little if any professional development. Such development could provide the teachers with the expertise that they need to use technology and teach students the skills for a digital world. Teachers lack the knowledge needed to be successful with integrating technology into the classroom; also, when technical issues occur the teachers do not have the troubleshooting skills or IT support to help them address common technological issues that arise in the classroom. Many schools have a high ratio of students to computers which means that many students do not have the opportunity to use the computers at school. Due to standardized testing, teachers focus much more on the standards based curriculum and making sure that their students can pass the test. High SES schools invest in professional development, full time technical support staff, and teachers and administration work together to stay abreast of new technologies.
The Digitally Denied at Work
We are living in the information age. This is a time in which the utilization of technology is the source of wealth. The latest U.S. Department of Labor report shows that the fastest growing jobs are information technology (IT) positions, such network systems and data communications analysts; computer software engineers, applications; computer systems analysts; database administrators; and computer software engineers, systems software. With these positions at the top of the list, it is clear that technology is very important for businesses and organizations.
According to Reich (1991), there are three categories of workers: 1) routine production workers such as data processors, payroll clerks, and factory workers; 2) in-person service workers such as janitors, hospital attendants, and taxi drivers; and 3) symbolic analysts such as scientists, engineers, executives, lawyers and consultants. The symbolic analysts have the rising share of wealth in our country. Symbolic analysts navigate through sophisticated technology systems, live in a digital world and have for quite some time. The digitally denied do not have the opportunity to live with technology and make it a part of their personal space; therefore, they will never be able to obtain the level of wealth or the status of individuals in the symbolic analyst category. Individuals that are digitally denied are systematically being put into a group that does not have equal access to all of the opportunities available in today’s society.
Dede, C. (1995). Testimony to the US Congress, House of Representatives, Joint hearing on educational technology in the 21st century. Retrieved March 21, 2012, from http://www.virtual.gmu.edu/SS_research/cdpapers/congrpdf.htm
National Telecommunications and Information Administration. (1995). Falling through the net: A survey of the “Have Nots” in rural and urban America. Washington, DC: Author.
National Telecommunications and Information Administration. (1998). Falling through the net II: New data on the digital divide. Washington, DC: Author.
National Telecommunications and Information Administration. (1999). Falling through the net: Defining the digital divide. Washington, DC: Author.
National Telecommunications and Information Administration. (2000). Falling through the net: Toward digital inclusion. Washington, DC: Author.
National Telecommunications and Information Administration. (2002). A nation online: How Americans are expanding their use of the Internet. Washington, DC: Author.
National Telecommunications and Information Administration. (2004). A nation online: Entering the broadband age. Washington, DC: Author.
National Telecommunications and Information Administration. (2008a). Networked nation: Broadband in America 2007. Washington, DC: Author.
National Telecommunications and Information Administration. (2008b). Households using the Internet in and outside the home, by selected characteristics: Total, urban, rural, principal city, 2007. Retrieved January 20, 2009, from http://www.ntia.doc.gov/reports/2008/Table_HouseholdInternet2007.pdf
Reich, R. (1991). The work of nations: Preparing ourselves for 21st century capitalism. New York: Knopf.
Warschauer, M., & Matuchniak, T. (2010). New technology and digital worlds: Analyzing evidence of equity in access, use, and outcomes. Review of Research in Education, 34(1), 179-225.
Tags: Systemic Racism
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