Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Divergence of Digital World of Teachers

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Divergence of Digital World of Teachers

Article excerpt

Introduction

Gaps in the Digital World

Gaps, which are defined as, have and have-nots; know and know-nots, are widening [United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 1999; Malloch, 2000; James, 2000; Main, 2001; Dalsgaard, 2001; Cobb, 2002]. The obstacles that are defined as gaps significantly affect education. However, day-by-day, the effects of gaps in education has become clearer, and the easiness of e-learning applications in education has become more common among teachers. Unequal opportunities among countries in access to technology and Internet host have also been of interest for researchers for many decades. Correspondingly, UNDP (1999), OECD (2001, 2007), Hargittai (2003), Piskurich (2003), and Papastergiou and Solomonidou (2005) studied the existence of access gaps. In fact, all the divides and gaps have been observed to be interrelated in one way or the other. Using different approaches toward teaching and learning, both pedagogical (e.g., literacy teaching) and organizational (e.g., class size, ratio of teaching assistant to pupils) can help achieve positive outcomes and narrow the gap (Demiralay & Karadeniz, 2008; DCSF, 2007a; Cassen and Kingdon, 2007; Younger et al., 2005). Effective literacy interventions are an important element to narrowing the gap in the outcomes, as poor literacy at primary-school age is strongly and significantly associated with future low achievement (Cassen and Kingdon, 2007). With respect to these factors, earlier studies (Clarke et al, 2008; Ahmed, 2007; Souter, 2007; Bhanji, 2008) cited that the most-accepted gaps are Internet gaps, age gaps, digital gaps, knowledge gaps, access gaps, economic gaps, and performance gaps. Although there have been several studies (Tezer, & Bicen, 2008; Gunga & Ricketts, 2007; Cole, 2005, Manette, 2004) in the literature about gaps among students, there has been no study on the gaps among the teachers. Thus, this study attempts to examine the digital divide among the teachers along the four axes: age, Internet access, computer access, and performance (computing knowledge/experience) (see Figure 1).

Divides in the Digital World

Digital divide is used to describe the increasing gap between computer users and non-users (Becker, 2000). Digital divide is the gap between individuals, households, business, and geographic areas at different socioeconomic levels with regard to both their opportunities to access Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the use of Internet for a wide variety of purposes (OECD, 2001). It is the division of the world between those who have access to new ICT and those who do not (Asian Development Bank, 2002). Digital divide is a term increasingly used to describe the social implications of unequal access to ICT by some sectors of the community, and to the acquisition of necessary skills (National Office for the Information Economy, 2001). It is the concrete and symbolic distance between those who enjoy the access and familiarity of the immense potential of technology, and those who do not (Munoz, 2002). Furthermore, it is the separation between those who have access to and can effectively use technology and those who could not (Pearson, 2002). Occurrence of a digital divide may be owing to several reasons, such as income, educational level, class, gender, race, and geographical location (Norris, 2001). As a result of access gaps, there also exist digital divides between (and within) rich and poor countries [Chinn & Fairlie, 2004; Hargittai, 2003]. Does this divide exist among teachers? Does age gap, Internet-access gap, computer-access gap, and performance gap result in divide in the digital world of teachers? Is there a convergence or a divergence? These are the questions that arise during the literature reviews, which must be addressed.

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Researches about Gaps in Education

There have been numerous researches on gaps and divides in education. …

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