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1 beta mantic web arning mining e intelligence investigate complexity Flexible debate Personalised Productive connect cumulate virtual reality activity context blog annotate algorithm construct web2.0 knowledge user centred haptic devi gene feedback envision physical mashup mediate CSCL neur ne collaborate engage create experiment authentic Inclusivefolksonomy inquire reflection professional share prototype Digital Inclusion Jane Seale A Research Briefing by the Technology Enhanced Learning Phase of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme University of Southampton, December 2009

2 Preface This briefing is a Beta version of a research update on digital inclusion. As such, it focuses on existing research, and outlines current themes and issues in the field of digital inclusion. Its main focus is to begin a discussion within and beyond the TEL programme and projects, which will push forward the state of the art in the field. The briefing challenges projects within and beyond TEL to assess and critique all aspects of their work as it relates to digital inclusion, from conceptualisation of terms to evaluation of outcomes. An online version of this briefing, which offers members of the Digital Inclusion community the opportunity to comment and suggest additions or revisions, can be found at: We will use this briefing as a springboard to launch an editorial task group who, led by Dr Jane Seale, will work together to produce Version 1.0 of the Digital Inclusion Research Update in late 2010, early Version 1.0 will synthesise and update current research in the field of digital Inclusion, drawing on themes and outcomes of relevant TEL projects, to highlight and discuss research challenges for the future. 2 Digital Literacies evidence share professional prototype reflection experiment ersonalised physical ctive authentic Inclusivefolksonomy debate inquire create engage neural network collaborate mediate CSCL mashup envision feedback generate complexity knowledge Flexible disseminate haptic devices machine er centred web2.0

3 algorithm construct P cumulate us Produ blog annotate touch investigate intelligence wiki beta context Chapter 1: Definitions of Digital Inclusion Introduction The society we live in today is dominated by technology and most of us accept the discourse of fast and ever-changing developments in technology which have transformed, or have the potential to transform, the way we live and relate to one another. This transformation may, however, not necessarily be a positive one. Technology can be a double-edged sword. Warschauer, Knobel & Stone (2004: p.563) for example, comment on how technology can either reduce divisions in society or amplify them: On one hand, if computers and the Internet are distributed equally and used well, they are viewed as powerful tools to increase among marginalized students and provide greater access to a broader information society the other hand, many fear that unequal access to new technologies, both at school and at home, will serve to heighten educational and social stratification, thereby creating a new digital divide Digital inclusion, like accessibility, is a ubiquitous term that is rarely explicitly defined. It is possible to read a whole report or article and by the end not know exactly how the author is defining digital inclusion. The vagueness around the term means that digital inclusion is in danger of becoming a meaningless concept which at best is ignored, and at worst is rejected. Where definitions of Digital Inclusion can be found, they tend to embed within them an expectation or imperative that digital inclusion happens when all members of society are able to access the affordances offered by technology use (see for example Selwyn & Facer, 2007). Digital Inclusion is therefore concerned with addressing inequalities, where those unable to access the affordance of technologies are, disadvantaged, marginalised in society and therefore digitally excluded. In addition to equality, explicit and implicit definitions of digital inclusion encompass a number of inter-related concepts: Access; Use; Empowerment; Participation. activity Access and Digital Inclusion virtual reality Access in the context of digital inclusion is generally discussed in relation to access to technologies. The label given to these technologies varies and includes ICT, digital technologies and e-services. Underneath these umbrella terms a range of technologies are included such as mobile phones, personal digital assistants, computers, the Internet, broadband connection and digital TV. connect The UK government distinguishes between direct and indirect access, where direct access is understood as access to technologies and indirect access is understood as access to services, which are facilitated through access to technologies (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, 2005; HM Government, 2008). dialogue The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2005) for example talks of multi-channel access to services, where services can be accessed and delivered through digital TV, mobile phones and the Internet. conjecture The Future Lab report Using digital technologies to promote inclusive practices in education, commissioned by Becta, does not explicitly define digital inclusion, but it does categorise types of technologies and give examples of a range of technologies in action in an educational context. semantic web Chapter 1: Definitions of Digital Inclusion Digital Literacies 3

4 These include camera phones, web publishing tools, games consoles, PDA s, e-babies, camcorders, web-based thinking tools, voice synthesisers, text to speech software, and e-portfolios (Walker & Logan, 2009). Writing in the context of difficulties, Abbott (2007) distinguishes between technologies for training and rehearsal, technologies that assist and technologies that enable. Understanding digital inclusion as being about the provision of equipment leads to two key issues that are frequently encountered in digital inclusion projects. Firstly, the issue of whether or not to provide state of the art technologies and secondly the issue of maintaining and updating technologies once they have been provided. Arguing on the basis of equity, Damarin (2000) proposed a principle of parsimony for digital inclusion projects in education, in which educators seek to use the least costly tool, which may not necessarily be state of the art, in order to enable their students to make optimal use of the technological resources available to them both at school, at home and in the community. Damarin s proposal essentially warns of the dangers of setting up inequities in access, where students have access to high tech resources in one location, but do not have similar access in other locations that play an important part in their lives. The maintenance and updating of technological resources can become a particular issue for digital inclusion activities that are set up using short term one-off investments which tend to flounder in the long term due to a lack of recurrent spending and commitment. This can result in users who were initially digitally included, becoming digitally excluded, due to failing or out of date technologies. This is something that the Association for Learning Technology warn about in their response to the Governments consultation paper on Delivering Digital Inclusion (HM Government 2008). They argue that digital inclusion activities need to be permanent and that short term special digital inclusion projects and fixes only serve to reinforce differences and divides (ALT, 2009: p7). In other words access needs to be sustained. Conceptualising digital inclusion as involving access to technologies also raises important issues relating to technological determinism, the digital divide and the complexities of bringing about change in inequalities. Technological determinism relates to the idea that the mere provision or presence of technologies is all that is required to bring about digital inclusion and therefore transformation for individuals or communities. The digital divide is as common a concept as digital inclusion and is frequently associated in both educational and non-educational sectors with talk of the have s and have not s ; those who have access to technologies and those who do not (see for example Damarin 2000; Ching, Basham & Jang, 2005). Warschauer (2003: p42) argues that the simple binary of the technology have and have not s does not compute. He gives the example of 4 Digital Literacies evidence share professional prototype reflection Bill Gates who donated a vast amount of technological equipment to rural libraries in the US in the hope of stemming a rural exodus. Warschauer notes that whilst this initiative did serve to improve the daily lives of those who used the libraries; the exodus continued. He suggests that this was because other factors such as unemployment were influencing the community. He uses this example to argue against viewing digital inclusion in narrow terms: experiment ersonalised physical ctive authentic Inclusivefolksonomy Well-intentioned programs often lead in unexpected directions, and the worst failures occur when people attempt to address complex social problems with a narrow focus on provision of equipment (Warschauer 2003: p44) debate The limited usefulness of conceptualising digital inclusion solely in terms of access to technologies is further exemplified by UK government policy documents, which in addition to talking about access to technologies, also talk of the importance of personal and skilled advisers who can help excluded people gain access to e-services. Access to people is therefore acknowledged as being as important inquire create engage as access to technology, albeit for the government at least, on a temporary basis: neural network This [direct access] requires people to have the motivation, skills and opportunity to engage in technology. collaborate mediate CSCL mashup envision feedback generate complexity knowledge Flexible disseminate haptic devices machine er centred web2.0

5 algorithm construct P cumulate us Produ blog annotate touch investigate intelligence wiki beta context Until they become self-sufficient users, they may initially be supported through an intermediary, such as a school or UK online centre, or community Volunteer. (HM Government, 2008: p9) Whether or not access to people is as important as access to technology in order for digital inclusion activities to be successful is an issue that is certainly worthy of further debate (see section on empowerment). Use and Digital Inclusion Use in the context of Digital Inclusion is usually understood in relation to individuals using, or being able to use, the technologies that they have access to. Commentators therefore frequently categorise and discuss the digital competencies and literacies that are needed in order for people to be digitally included. Morse (2004: p267) for example, argued that every student must develop basic technology literacy skills to be afforded the opportunity to become a full participant in our society. Livingstone, Bober, and Helsper (2004) mapped children and young people s internet literacy and showed that the more internet literacy skills children had, the more Internet opportunities they took up. Crawford and Irving (2007) argued for the inclusion of information literacy in any consideration of digital inclusion in Scotland. Just as technology access as a concept has been frequently over-simplified; so too, has technology use. There is however, a growing recognition that issues such as quality of use, best use, meaningful use and non-use need to be addressed. Quality of use and therefore levels of digital inclusion might sometimes be related to the nature of technologies being used. Selwyn & Facer (2007) give the example of the potential difference between searching the World Wide Web on a mobile telephone and searching it using a desktop PC. They suggest therefore that quality of use can vary considerably depending on issues such as technology platform or level of connectivity (e.g. broadband). Selwyn and Facer (2007: p14) also talk of making the best use of technology or smart use, where smart use is defined as making use of technologies as and when appropriate: Digital inclusion is not therefore simply a matter of ensuring that all individuals make use of ICTs throughout their day-to-day lives, but a matter of ensuring that all individuals are able to make what could be referred to as smart use of ICTs, ie using ICTs as and when appropriate activity Understanding what influences use and therefore digital inclusion, is likely to involve more than understanding barriers to the acquisition of skills or competences. It is likely to involve understanding an array of factors that influence the decisions that people make about when technology use is appropriate or meaningful in their lives. virtual reality A lack of meaningful use is not necessarily due to technological factors... or even psychological factors engagement with ICTs is based around a complex mixture of social, psychological, economic and, above all, pragmatic reasons. (Selwyn, 2004, p.349) connect By accepting that technology use is complex, some digital inclusion researchers are starting to find interesting results in relation to use or non use of technology. For example, Livingstone and Helsper dialogue (2007) have identified what they call gradations of use with children and young people. In a study exploring why adults do not use computers in their daily lives, Selwyn (2006) identified a hierarchy of engagement with technology; ranging from absolute non-users, to lapsed users and rare users. Pragmatism and perceived lack of relevance or fit with current life were recurring themes when exploring reasons behind level of technology use. Results like this suggest a need to further our understanding of how the choices that people make regarding the nature and extent of their conjecture semantic web Chapter 1: Definitions of Digital Inclusion Digital Literacies 5

6 technology use might be influenced by technological factors (e.g. issues of access); personal factors (e.g. skill levels) or contextual factors (e.g. life-fit ). The studies by Livingstone & Helsper (2007) and Selwyn (2006) are significant for two important reasons. Firstly, they are significant because they link digital inclusion to concepts of empowerment (i.e. exerting control and choice over technology by making decisions about appropriate or meaningful technology use). Secondly, they are important because they challenge some prejudices. For example, if an individual has access to technology but does not use it, there can be a tendency for non-use to be perceived as problematic and for the non-user to be labelled as deficient or lacking in something, usually digital competencies or literacies. A study by Seale, Draffan and Wald (in press) on the e- experiences of disabled students at university provides a nice example of how non-use might potentially be a positive phenomenon. Using a range of participatory methods, they found that whether and how disabled learners used technology to support their depended on their digital agility and digital decision-making. The students digital agility was evidenced by their high confidence levels in relation to using technologies; high familiarity levels with a range of generic and specialist technologies and wide range of strategies for making technologies work for them. Their decisions about technology use were influenced by a range of considerations including: what the affordances of the technology were; whether or not the technology in question was the right tool for the job ; whether the technology was perceived to work or be impressive; whether the technology had a study fit and was aligned with the ways they felt they needed to study and whether the benefits of using the technology outweighed any perceived costs. Sometimes the results of this decision-making would be that students would decide not to use technologies. Whilst non-use in this example, can be linked to skills and abilities, it cannot necessarily be linked to skill deficiencies. Seale, Draffan and Wald (in press) for example suggest that the way the students made these decisions reflected a skilful, strategic fluency. They argue: The digital agility of the students is significant in terms of encouraging practitioners not to view all disabled students as helpless victims of exclusion. Digital inclusion does not always have to be understood through the dual lenses of deficits and barriers. Digital inclusion in higher education therefore, will not always be about practitioners opening the door and/or teaching disabled students how to step over the threshold. Sometimes, digital inclusion might be about disabled students using their considerable digital agility to break and enter on their own terms. Participation and Digital Inclusion 6 Digital Literacies evidence share professional prototype reflection If digital inclusion is about reducing disadvantage in society and addressing, through technology, the needs of those who are marginalised in society then participation features strongly in its conceptualisation. Becta (2001:p2) link social inclusion to: citizenship and participation and argue that: experiment ersonalised physical ctive authentic Inclusivefolksonomy Equality of access, skills and aspirations are essential to ensure that the gap between information rich and poor does not extend to gaps in access to electronically based participatory mechanisms. debate Cook and Light (2006) see participation as fluid, but moving beyond e-voting (citizenship and civic engagement) to include e-. Participation in education is also emphasised by Damarin (2000: p17) who talks of educators having the responsibility to ensure students can become full participants in the current information age. Cook and Light (2006) also challenge us to consider whether a inquire create engage distinction should be made between active and passive participation; where passive participation neural network could be viewed as being on the receiving end of e-services and active participation could be viewed as having an influence on the way technologies are used: collaborate mediate CSCL mashup envision feedback generate complexity knowledge Flexible disseminate haptic devices machine er centred web2.0

7 The nature of participation in our view is fluid, moving beyond e-voting and the provision of e-government services to include participation in e- and that includes participation in the way society shapes the technologies that are developed for learners, citizens and consumers. (Cook & Light, 2006: p51) as a minimum, a citizen needs to be able to, and feel confident in their own ability to, use a search engine and to send an before they can make use of e-government services. But this still leaves most citizens as recipients of the services that enlightened providers see fit to offer, rather than fully included, self-determining participants in a digital society. (Cook & Light, 2006: p52) Empowerment and Digital Inclusion The reference to self-determination made by Cook & Light, alerts us to the fact that digital inclusion and empowerment are often perceived as being associated. The government for example in its consultation paper on Digital Inclusion talked of technology being a vehicle for empowerment, rather than a force for further exclusion HM Government (2008: p5). In their consultation paper, the government appear to link empowerment to notions of independence. For example, in the earlier section on access and digital inclusion we have already seen how the government hopes that people will develop the right level of skills to mean they will eventually become self-sufficient and not require any human support to use technologies. The consultation document goes on to propose a Digital Inclusion Charter which has enshrined in it the principle of Citizen and community empowerment, where the most disadvantaged citizens and communities are assisted and motivated to achieve increased independence and opportunity through direct access to digital technology and skills (HM Government, 2008: p61). Chapter 1: Definitions of Digital Inclusion algorithm construct P cumulate us Produ blog annotate touch investigate intelligence wiki beta context The motivations for linking independence to empowerment are worth examining in order to assess what the perceived benefits or outcomes of digital inclusion are. It is possible, for example, that independence is expected so that individuals cease to be a burden to society and usefully contribute to society (see Chapter 2 on Why Digital Inclusion is important). It is worth noting here, however, that many inclusion and disability advocates reject the notion that independence is about selfsufficiency, arguing instead that it is about being able to take control over ones life and choose how that life should be led (Barnes 1991: p129). By linking empowerment to self-sufficiency and independence there is a danger that digital inclusion will be too closely linked to notions of skills deficits or deficiencies without also acknowledging that empowerment can be a result of recognising the strengths, motivations and resourcefulness that many digitally excluded people bring with them when accessing and using technologies (Seale, Draffan & Wald 2008). activity virtual reality Reflecting the results of the Seale, Draffan & Wald (in press) study, Selwyn and Facer (2007: p4) offer a definition of digital inclusion that stresses both empowered choices and available resources, where resources is understood in broader terms than just technological equipment: connect..we argue that government should seek to Enable all individuals to make informed and empowered choices about the uses of ICTs whilst ensuring these individuals have ready access to the resources required to enable them to act on these choices. dialogue Digital inclusion is multi-faceted conjecture Our discussion of the different concepts that are linked to digital inclusion suggest that digital inclusion is both complex and multi-faceted. For example, The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA) assert that: semantic web Digital Literacies 7

8 digital divides involve a complex web of interconnected social, economic and cultural factors that cannot be fully captured by a definition that focuses solely on access or ownership (Becta 2001: p4) Digital Inclusion is therefore as much a social, cultural and cognitive concept as it is a technological one. For example, van Dijk (2005) sees successful engagement with ICTs as being contingent on the following aspects of resourcing: temporal resources (time to spend on different activities in life); material resources above and beyond ICT equipment and services (e.g. income and all kinds of property); mental resources (knowledge, general social and technical skills above and beyond specific ICT skills); social resources (social network positions and relationships e.g. in the workplace, home or community); cultural resources (cultural assets, such as status and forms of credentials). In Ensuring Equality of Educational Opportunity in the Digital Age, Morse (2004) suggests that becoming a full participant in our society involves tangible factors such as access to computers and less tangible factors such as the way an individual interacts with a computer. If definitions conceptualise digital inclusion as multi-faceted, then digital inclusion activities will need to be multifaceted. The question is, can technology enhanced initiatives, rise to such a challenge? Digital inclusion is about opportunities, outcomes and practices Conceptualising digital inclusion as being about access, prompts us to acknowledge that digital inclusion in part involves providing equality of opportunities so that all members of society can benefit from the affordances that technologies offer. Conceptualising digital inclusion as being about use and empowerment, prompts us to acknowledge that digital inclusion is also about equality of outcome. Selwyn (2004: p351) for example notes: On the one hand, we are concerned with inequalities of opportunity to access and use different forms of ICT. On the other hand, we are concerned also with different inequalities of outcome resulting either directly or indirectly from engagement with these technologies. 8 Digital Literacies evidence share professional prototype reflection Conceptualising digital inclusion as being about both opportunities (A) and outcomes (B), prompts us to consider the question: how we get from A to B? It is therefore significant that commentators such as Walker & Logan (2009) and Abbott (2007 p6) talk of inclusion practices. Abbott for example, argues: it is much more appropriate to talk about e-inclusion practices, a term which emphasises the interaction between digital tools, contexts and people, and focuses attention on the activity of the use of digital technologies by or with people with difficulties. It is this wider understanding of the interaction between digital technologies, contexts and people which is now often, and more accurately, described as e-inclusion. Why are definitions of Digital Inclusion important? experiment ersonalised physical ctive authentic Inclusivefolksonomy debate inquire create engage Definitions of Digital Inclusion are important for both practice and research. If digital inclusion is understood as multi-faceted then digital inclusion practices will probably need to reflect this in order neural network to be successful. Digital inclusion research will also need to develop sophisticated measurements of the relative success of digital inclusion initiatives that can cater for a wide range of influencing collaborate mediate CSCL mashup envision feedback generate complexity knowledge Flexible disseminate haptic devices machine er centred web2.0

9 factors. As Damarin (2000; p18) warns, there are dangers for digital inclusion research in viewing digital inclusion too simplistically: Counting the presence of computers in the homes of females as sufficient ignores documented sex differences in the use of technologies, a difference which is not eradicated simply by increasing the number of websites designed for female shoppers. This leads us to some important questions: What definitions of digital inclusion have been/are being used in your work contexts? Do they reflect conceptualisation presented here in relation to access, use, equity and empowerment, if not, what other concepts are embedded in your definitions? How helpful are these definitions in terms of moving either practice or research forward? Should we aspire to one commonly accepted definition of Digital Inclusion in Technology Enhanced Learning practice and research? In Chapter 2 of this briefing, I will go on to discuss in more detail why digital inclusion is considered, by a range of stakeholders, to be important and therefore worthy of so much attention. Chapter 1: Definitions of Digital Inclusion dialogue P cumulate us Produ blog annotate touch investigate activity wiki beta algorithm construct context intelligence conjecture semantic web connect virtual reality Digital Literacies 9

10 Chapter 2: Why is Digital Inclusion Important? Introduction In Chapter 1, Definitions of Digital Inclusion ; it was noted that technology can be a double-edged sword, which either reduces divisions in society or amplifies them. This observation lies at the heart of much of UK government policy regarding digital inclusion. For policy makers therefore, digital inclusion is important, because digital exclusion is understood to be at the heart of many social problems that exist within communities and society. A role for education in relation to promoting digital inclusion and therefore reducing social exclusion has been identified. This role could be described as essentially one of increasing the social capital of the digitally excluded; where social capital is understood as access, ability to use and desire to use technology. This role is not unproblematic and consideration of the role education might play raises important questions about whether education is reaching or can reach all those digitally excluded learners that need to be reached and the extent to which educating the digitally excluded leads to both genuine digital and social inclusion. Links between social exclusion and digital exclusion High profile commentators on the digital divide such as Castells (2001) have long been arguing that there is a strong association between social exclusion and digital exclusion, where social exclusion is judged or measured using criteria such as socio-economic status, region and deprivation. Castells argues therefore that digital exclusion is one of the most damaging forms of exclusion in society (Castells, 2001, p.3). In a similar vein, Selwyn & Facer (2007: p 9) argue that technology is central to everything we do, and therefore is central to our inclusion in society: ICTs now play an integral role in people s purchasing of goods and services, their employment and education, their involvement in civic or political affairs as well as consumption of leisure and entertainment services. Indeed, ICT now lies at the heart of most of the activities which are seen to constitute social inclusion from playing an active role in one s neighbourhood and community to maintaining one s personal finances. 10 Digital Literacies evidence share professional prototype reflection In the UK, there is some statistical evidence to support the existence of a link or association between digital exclusion and social exclusion. For example, in 2007, the Ufi published a report written by Freshminds and UK Online Centres called Understanding digital inclusion - A research summary. Using statistics gained from The Office of National Statistics (ONS) and Ofcom, the report claims to provide evidence for what it calls an overwhelming correlation between digital and social exclusion. Using the government s Index of Multiple Deprivation to define social exclusion, individuals were classified as being socially excluded if they were subject to three or more of the following forms of deprivation: Income deprivation: living in social housing, or in a workless household; experiment ersonalised physical ctive authentic Inclusivefolksonomy debate Employment deprivation: never worked, economically inactive, unemployed, in routine or manual work; In part-time work only, or in a workless household; Health deprivation: not working because of poor health; Education deprivation: no qualifications; Barriers to services: living alone without access to a car, or a lone parent; Living deprivation: living alone, or living in crowded housing. inquire create engage neural network collaborate mediate CSCL mashup envision feedback generate complexity knowledge Flexible disseminate haptic devices machine er centred web2.0

11 algorithm construct P cumulate us Produ blog annotate touch investigate intelligence wiki beta context Digital exclusion was defined as no use of the internet in the last three months and no home internet access. Applying these indices of exclusion, the report claims to have found that three quarters of people counted as socially excluded are also digitally excluded. More detailed figures reveal that digital exclusion is related to age, economic activity, educational qualifications and living alone: Nearly half (46%) of digitally excluded people are aged over 65. Exclusion increases with age, so that, while 60% of the age-group are excluded, exclusion among those over 75 is 79%; Two thirds of digitally excluded people are economically inactive. Even controlling for the presence in this group of those aged over 65, the economically inactive people are still very likely to be excluded; 62% of those with no educational qualifications are digitally excluded, compared to only 6% of those with a degree; 69% of those who live alone are digitally excluded. Further data however, reveals a more complex relationship between social exclusion and digital exclusion: Those socially excluded people who do use the internet tend to be young. 62% are aged under 44, but economically inactive. Despite being seen as at risk of social exclusion, unemployed people and lone parents are in fact more likely than average to be internet users. They are actually much more likely than average to be digitally determined (use the internet, but do not have access at a convenient location such as home, work or college) and therefore go out of their way to use public internet access points. Those living in social housing and those without access to a car are also more likely than average to be digitally determined. These four groups (unemployed, lone parents, living in social housing, without access to a car) represent people for whom cost barriers are a reality, but who make an effort to use the internet at public access points because they see the personal benefits in doing so. People who are socially excluded or living in areas of high deprivation are likely, even if they are internet users, to have lower skills and use the internet for less-sophisticated purposes. Acknowledging that the relationship between digital exclusion and social exclusion is complex, HM Government (2008: p15) argue that digital exclusion can be viewed as a social problem if we consider how technology matters most to people s daily lives. The report then lists what it sees as the major issues for key groups within society. For young people, it is argued that if they fail to engage with new technologies, they risk falling behind their peers in education, and will ultimately suffer in what is increasingly a technology-dependent globalised job market. For adults and parents the dangers of activity digital exclusion are linked to financial security (employment) and gaining access to support and advice. For older people and people with disabilities, it is argued that assistive technologies will help to ensure virtual reality that they can participate equally in society, engage directly with others and receive equal levels of service delivery. Opportunities for using technologies to prepare offenders for release and provide much needed therapies are identified. While for older people, opportunities for independent living, volunteering and work and reducing social isolation are afforded by technologies. Finally, communities can benefit from technologies through improved communication and increased proactive social activity. connect dialogue conjecture semantic web Chapter 2: Why is Digital Inclusion Important? Digital Literacies 11

12 Can anything be done about the link between social exclusion and digital exclusion? Selwyn and Facer (2007: p14) outline three different responses that the policy and IT community have had to the problem of the digital divide: Resignation: seeing inequality as natural and unavoidable; Hope: anticipating that the diffusion of technologies will spread naturally from the majority to the minority in the fullness of time; Denial: belief that the digital divide is a dead issue not worthy of policy intervention. Strover (2003) writes in a rather cynical tone about the motives of the US government for its digital inclusion initiatives, suggesting that they are little more than an attempt to side-step the more difficult issue of tackling deep and structural social inequalities. Despite such cynicism, for the moment at least, the UK government appears committed to what might be described as positive action. Interpretations of data revealing links between digital exclusion and social inclusion have led various government agencies and departments to conclude that seeking to change one variable (digital exclusion) through technology focused interventions will have a positive effect on the other variable (social exclusion). The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2005) for example talks of addressing key problems faced by socially excluded people through technology (ICT). The Ufi, who have responsibility for the UK LearnDirect initiative, write: That means that people already at a disadvantage and arguably with most to gain from ICT are the least likely to be making use of it and most likely to be further disadvantaged by their non-use. It may sound like a Catch-22, but actually it s an opportunity. If digital and social exclusion are inter-related, positive action on one front can affect the other, and greater equity be the result. (Ufi 2007: p2) In their evaluation of a UK government funded initiative called Wired UP Communities Initiative, Devins et al. (2003) outline four inter-related objectives for the programme. The objectives illustrate how ideas about the link between digital inclusion and social inclusion get translated into action : Objective 1: Access To contribute to the social exclusion agenda by enabling most people in disadvantaged communities to have access to ICT. To allow people in disadvantaged communities easy access to the full range of government and other services through the internet. Objective 2: Learning To increase ICT and other skills in disadvantaged communities and support the of local adults and children. Objective 3: Employment To promote economic inclusion and improve the employment prospects of people in the communities through improving their access to jobs and training. Objective 4: Social Cohesion To help communities use new technologies to develop and sustain community co-operation, capacity and mutual support. The way these objectives are ordered or prioritised also illustrates the pivotal role that education is perceived to have in using technology as tool to produce social and economic benefits for both individuals and society.

13 Providing access to technology: the role of education in addressing digital exclusion The assumption that educational systems and institutions have a role in seeking to redress social exclusion, particularly in relation to the digital divide is common. Cook and Light (2006: p52) for example write In other words, as networks offer the potential to develop from connecting people to connecting the things around us, new skills and sensibilities are needed to understand the world and design for it. We need to make explicit what these new abilities are and place the means for these skills at the heart of society. Writing in relation to students with disabilities Bocconi et al. (2006: p2029) argue that in school they should be able access and use mainstream educational tools, including those that are ICT based. Writing in relation to economically disadvantaged students, the OECD (2005: p30) argue that access to computers at school is crucial because: Even in countries with much higher access rates overall; people from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds have less chance of accessing computers than their peers. Tien & Fu (2008) however, question the assumption that schools can reduce the digital divide, arguing that the digital divide does not exist in a vacuum. The question of whether the school education system, in which the social inequality is hidden, helps to either bridge the digital gap or make the digital gap wider over time still remains unanswered. Chapter 2: Why is Digital Inclusion Important? Certainly in the US there is some evidence to suggest that the digital divide exists as much in schools as it does in the wider society. Morse (2004) for example cites the work of Brown, Higgins, and Hartley (2001) which claims that schools attended by students from diverse ethnic backgrounds as well as students from families living in poverty are likely to offer less access to most types of technology. Hohlfeld et al. (2008) uses state-wide data from four school years to investigate significant trends in ICT integration by school level and social economic status (SES) in Florida. Results show statistically significant differences between high and low SES schools at every level in terms of student access to software, student use of software, teacher use of software, and the level of technology support. Hohfeld et al. conclude that the research provides evidence of the existence of the digital divide among Florida s K-12 schools. The transformative role of schools in addressing the digital divide is further questioned by Attewell (2001: p254) who suggests that even if schools can easily address the first digital divide relating to access, they will find it harder to address the second digital divide relating to use: Schools do not easily abandon their traditions and curricula or rebuild around new technologies even when they want to. They face competing demands from parents, teachers, children and state testing agencies and suffer severe limitations on spending and staff time. Schools find it difficult to fulfil their educational and social mandates, let alone embrace a visionary new one. The result is often compromise: educational computing adapts to schools at least as much as it transforms them. One key issue that can hinder schools using technology in a transformative way is the technological competence and confidence of teachers. For example, Salinas & Sanchez (2009) analysed teachers contribution to improving digital inclusion in Chilean rural schools. Using data obtained from interviews with and surveys of teachers and students from 145 rural schools they found that that teachers function Digital Literacies 13

14 as gatekeepers and that when teachers have high expectations, skills and technology access, this can lead to the conditions required to enable students to learn how to use ICT. Hohlfeld et al. (2008: p1649) comment further on the influence that teacher skills and knowledge can have on digital inclusion: even if schools have the mission to provide this bridge for their have not students, their teachers may not possess proficient ICT skills and knowledge about how best to integrate technology into the curriculum. Many teachers were educated before personal computers existed or were integrated into teacher education If these teachers have not re-educated themselves, they cannot model and promote the critical ICT skills for their students. In turn, students will not have the opportunities to develop sufficient ICT skills in the authentic contexts that are necessary for future personal and career endeavors. In the UK, there is also a recognition that the provision of technology alone will not fully capitalise on the opportunity ICT offers for inclusion without the understanding and skill of teachers in planning its implementation. Becta (2007) for example write:..there is a need for a clear understanding of the pedagogy of ICT and inclusive education by all those supporting children s welfare and education and those working in lifelong, at all levels. All initiatives seeking to extend the use of ICT in education now recognise that the teacher needs to be competent and confident in the use of technology Enhancing social capital: the role of education in addressing digital exclusion While providing access to technology and technology competent teachers might be an important role for education, there is evidence to suggest that access alone is insufficient to guarantee productive use. There is a growing awareness that addressing digital exclusion requires paying attention to the issue of increasing the ability of non-users to use technology as well as their desire to use technology. Research from the 2002 Pew Internet Project, for example, revealed a number of factors that were providing a barrier to Internet use; including embarrassment over lack of skills or use of technology and a lack of desire to use technology. Cook and Light (2006) argue that digital exclusion will continue to exist as long as the affective and personal goals of potential learners are ignored and they are therefore unable to understand the potential of what is within their grasp or conceive of what they are missing. Education could therefore be considered to have a role in: providing access to technology for learners; enhancing learners personal ability or capacity to use technology; enhancing learners desire to use technology. The Office of Deputy Prime Minister (2005: p67) suggested that having the ability to access and the desire and ability to adopt new technologies represented a form of social capital that digitally excluded users needed to acquire. Cotton & Jelenewicz (2006) argue that students need to be technologically competent to be full participants in society and that the lack of both access to and the desire to use technology among economically disadvantaged racial and ethnic minorities exacerbates their ability to function as citizens in a democratic society. The importance of considering ability to use technology alongside desire to use is highlighted by a number of studies that have evaluated the success of early government digital inclusion initiatives. For example, in a report on their evaluation of the Wired UP Communities (WuC) Initiative Devins et al. (2003) present data that indicates that provision of training does not necessarily increase use, perceived ability to use, or desire to use technologies: Almost half of those surveyed reported that they had received some training to use technology or the Internet;

15 A quarter of the surveyed sample reported they had not used technology to access the Internet with almost half of these reporting that they are not interested in the Internet. A further 10% reported that they did not have the necessary skills to use the Internet. Smith and Cook (2002) report the results of a pilot study aimed at evaluating the extent to which UK online centres influenced the progression of its users into education and employment (and therefore enable them to be less socially excluded). They found that progression onto education or employment was not necessarily what users wanted or valued when they initially made first contact or use with online centres: For UK online centres in regeneration areas, few community members made first contact with the goal of employment or formal education; Typical motivations (initial goals) for community members to contact a UK online centre included: to get out of the house, to have a break while my children are in the centre crèche, to find out what ICT is about, to write to my nephew in Canada, to help my children with their homework, to pass my driving test, to keep my friend company ; Users of UK Online Centres only started to change their goals towards something that might be recognised as or employment oriented ( Users become more on the side of, community centre users have an increased capacity to choose jobs and awareness of the range of choice ) after regular contact with the centre. Who gate-keeps for who? Can digital inclusion challenge traditional power roles in education? Chapter 2: Why is Digital Inclusion Important? It is common for teachers to be conceptualised as gate-keepers of digital inclusion (see for example Salinas & Sanchez 2009). Through their skills, competence and confidence teachers can exert a large amount of influence on the digital inclusion of their students. Some evidence suggests however, that teachers are not the only gate-keepers for digital inclusion; in certain circumstances, parents and even children might be acting as gate-keepers. For example, Li-Tsang et al. (2008) investigated the longterm effects of an information and communication technology (ICT) training programme for people with intellectual disabilities (ID) in Hong Kong. They proudly report that the ICT training programme was found to have a long-term effect on the computer skills of people with ID disabilities and that their family members were now more confident in allowing persons with ID to use the computer at home after training. Whilst the training might have been successful, the researchers appear to miss the significance of what they have said in relation to how parents can act as more powerful gatekeepers than educators or trainers, but in doing so exert a potentially negative influence on digital inclusion. For example it raises questions regarding how empowering it actually is for people with ID to be taught how to use technologies, only to be denied access to these technologies by their own parents, if they are deemed to be unsafe users. In this context there may be a role for teachers trying to engage parents as partners in digital inclusion projects. A study by Zhao (2009) suggests that children can act as gate-keepers for their parents. They present an analysis of data from The Pew Internet and American Life Project for the US to show that teenagers of low education parents are either as likely, or more likely, than teenagers of high education parents to seek online health information. Higher engagement in online health information seeking behaviour by teenagers of low education parents was seen to be related to a lower prevalence of parental Internet use. Zhao uses this data to suggest that these teenagers may be seeking online health information on behalf of their digitally excluded, low education parents and interprets this in relation to digital empowerment. Digital Literacies 15

16 Consideration of the perceived importance of digital inclusion and the role that education might play in addressing digital exclusion raises some important questions: Can education reach all those digitally excluded learners that need to be reached? Who are the perceived learners? Who should be the recipients of digital inclusion focused education programmes? To what extent can educating the digitally excluded lead to both genuine digital and social inclusion? Can education truly enable learners to take matters into their own hands and exert control and choice over their technology use? How can education systems and educators influence desire to use technology in those identified as non-users? Writing about e- as an example of a digital inclusion initiative, Cook and Light (2006) ask: What is the most effective way to teach about the potential and impact of these structures and systems? How do we avoid a new digital divide between people who have the power to manipulate their and those who, because they do not understand the potential of e-, cannot? In Chapter 3 of this briefing, I will go on to discuss the question of where digital inclusion happens and associated questions of what exactly it is that learners are excluded from, that technologies might usefully address. 16 Digital Literacies

17 Chapter 3: Where does digital inclusion happen? Introduction In this chapter the question: where does digital inclusion happen? will be addressed by reviewing research and practice that seeks to locate digital inclusion in: educational institutions; families, homes and communities; social structures; digital spaces. The question of where education-related digital inclusion projects and initiatives locate themselves is an important one because it highlights issues and challenges regarding formal and informal spaces as well as physically, socially or culturally bounded spaces. In thinking through such issues and challenges we cannot ignore the question of whether the places that we locate digital inclusion activities and projects are the places where digital exclusion can genuinely and meaningfully be tackled and eliminated. Locating digital inclusion in educational institutions In discussing current expectations of individuals to be lifelong learners Selwyn and Facer (2007: p10) highlight how those who are digitally excluded will need to engage with a wide range of formal and informal educational institutions and settings: Chapter 3: Where does digital inclusion happen? Regardless of their age or stage of prior education, individuals are expected to cast themselves as lifelong learners, willing and able to engage with as and when appropriate throughout the life-course. This can involve through formal educational institutions, remote, or from others in non-formal and informal settings. Some educational opportunities will be personalised and tailored to the individual s needs and requirements, whilst others will take the form of mass instruction. In a report for Becta called Using digital technologies to promote inclusive practices in education Walker and Logan (2009) locate digital inclusion firmly in schools and colleges as formal educational institutions. Conceptualising digital inclusion as the use of ICT to support inclusive practice, Walker and Logan (2009: p4) argue that education providers will need to focus on the needs of individual learners in order to help them overcome any barriers that may prevent them from reaching their potential. They then go on to highlight principles that education institutions should adopt in order to demonstrate inclusive practice. Schools and colleges are therefore encouraged to build or design inclusive institutions (Walker and Logan: p15). Higher Education Institutions however, are rarely perceived as institutions that can or should be built or designed to be digitally inclusive. The prevalence of inaccessible university websites and e- materials does however mean that Higher Education Institutions are frequently cited as places where digital exclusion can potentially occur (See Seale 2006 for a review). Focusing on educational institutions raises questions about where exactly digital inclusion is located within an institution and whether it is helpful to consider both the macro and micro spaces of an institution, where micro spaces might include classrooms, curricula or communications between teachers and learners. Through some of their proposed principles, Walker and Logan (2009: p10) offer some indication that the building of inclusive institutions will involve a range of issues that will need to be considered at both a macro and a micro level. For example: Digital Literacies 17

18 Increase the participation of learners in the cultures, curricula and communities of their institution. Restructure the cultures, policies and practices in the institution so that they respond to the diversity of learners in the community. Emphasise the role of the institution in building community and developing values, as well as in increasing achievement. Foster mutually sustaining relationships between institutions and communities. Recognise that inclusion in education is one aspect of inclusion in society. Digital inclusion might therefore be broadly conceived as being located in educational institutions but might also be more specifically located in curricula, practices, cultures and communities. However, detailed evidence or examples of how exactly this might happen is currently lacking. Some work has focused on the curriculum as a potential location for digital inclusion. This work tends to either explore access to traditional aspects of the curriculum that some learners struggle to access or access to new curricula that engage those learners who are not engaged by the traditional curriculum. wiki beta One example of exploring access to traditional aspects of the curriculum is that of mathematics. Being able to access courses that have a strong mathematical element could be considered a civil activity professional Personalised Productive right (see for example, Moses and Cobb, 2001) and yet some learners face barriers to accessing mathematics, science and technology curricula algorithm because of their construct needs disabilities (e.g. dyslexia or visual impairment). Some barriers are attitudinal, based on misperceptions. For example, blog annotate in a US study, Fink (2002) reported results of interviews that she conducted with 60 people who were dyslexic and deemed to be successful in their careers. Some of her interviewees shared how in evidence virtual reality their early careers they were explicitly excluded or discouraged from entering higher level maths, science and technology courses. Fink argues that this is because gate-keepers such as careers advisors assumed that they would have difficulties with quantitative and scientific reasoning. Other mediate CSCL machine barriers are linked to the specific difficulties some learners experience. For example, accessing the visual notation and language of mathematics if you have a visual impairment, or understanding the special structure of formulas and matrices if you are a dyslexic learner. A small body of research exists that has sought to influence the role that technology can play in facilitating access to the mathematics curriculum. Much of the work focuses on using technology mashup connect cumulate user centred physical authentic Inclusivefolksonomy to transform mathematics related resources (see for example Freda et al. 2008; Hersh inquire & Stapleton 2006; Soiffer 2005). A smaller proportion of the work focuses using technology to transform the learner (see for example Li & Edmonds 2005). Examples reflection of using technology to share transform resources include Freda et al. (2008) who outlined a proposal to develop a LaTex based application that incorporates speech synthesis so that dyslexic learners can read technical and scientific documents, understand the spatial structure of formulas and matrixes and write papers with technical and scientific content in an electronic form compatible with the most commonly used editors. An example of using technology to transform learners is Li & Edmonds (2005) who report on a study that compared the educational attainment of what they described as adult learners at risk of not completing high school or attending college who were offered mathematics focused computer assisted instruction to those who were not. The computer assisted instruction was used as a supplement to face-to-face teaching, and consisted of taking the learners into a computer lab for an hour a week and instructing them to access a mathematics web site that displayed simple explanations, examples, and interactive exercises for every topic taught in the face-to-face setting. Although there was no overall significant difference in attainment between those learners who did and did not receive computer assisted instruction, Li & Edmonds (2005) report that those who received computer assisted instruction showed higher confidence and satisfaction levels. Using a framework drawn from disability studies and the debate regarding the medical and social models of disabilities, I would like to suggest that the work reported here raises three important questions regarding where exactly we are locating digital inclusion: dialogue touch investigate complexity Flexi experiment intelli disseminate envision prototype debate conte knowledge collaborate conjecture hap feed create 18 Digital Literacies

19 xt semantic web gence ble tic devices back web2.0 engage Are we locating exclusion in the individual, perceiving barriers to inclusion to be the difficulties that some learners have and thus seeking to remediate or transform the learner (medical model)? Are we locating exclusion in the environment, perceiving barriers to inclusion to be the things that are created by people and thus seeking to change the environment (social model)? If we locate exclusion within the environment, where do the limits or boundaries lie with regards to our commitment to transform the environment? Using mathematics as an example, I would like to suggest that there are limits to the extent to which we are currently committed to using technology to transform the environment. Taken as a whole, the work reported in relation to mathematics for example, has placed an emphasis on transforming how learners learn, rather than what they learn; in other words the mathematics curriculum has remained unchanged in the studies reported. Given that technology is frequently conceptualised as a tool for innovation (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, 2005) the relative lack of focus on the issue of whether or not technology can facilitate digital inclusion by transforming curricula is perhaps disappointing. The work of Noss and Hoyles (1996) for example, encourages us to think about how technology might help to transform mathematics curricula in terms of helping the learner to focus attention on the things that matter, but which tend to be unnoticed. Furthermore, thinking about the role of technologies in transforming curricula challenges us to broaden conceptualisations of digital inclusion beyond notions of accessing the curriculum (e.g. accessibility of mathematical equations) to incorporate concepts such as engagement. It may therefore be appropriate to address questions such as whether or not there is a role for technology in seeking to include learners who have disengaged with the mathematics curricula. One example of where technologies might be used to transform a curriculum and thus engage learners is that of drama and media. Walker and Logan (2009: p13) for example, acknowledge the important role that technologies can play in re-engaging disaffected learners, particularly when used to enhance or transform drama and media aspects of the curriculum. ICT generate has also been shown to be effective in reengaging disaffected young people, particularly when used to enhance creativity... It improved learners motivation and they learned to take responsibility for their own. It also helped them build relationships with others. In particular, technologies with strong visual elements such as digital video, drama-oriented software and multimedia neural network presentations can be effective ways of engaging learners. One example of such transformation in action is a project in Scotland called Moving Image Education which sought to use film, digital and other moving images as tool to engage learners who had been identified as disaffected or disengaged (Scottish Screen 2009: p12). Inclusion is reported as a key outcome or impact of the project: Chapter 3: Where does digital inclusion happen? A particular strength of the pedagogy of MIE is the inclusion it offers pupils who have specific barriers to, including those who have English as a second language, can access moving image texts at the same level as everyone else, and as a result both teachers and pupils cite raised confidence and esteem as the most prominent benefits of MIE. Head (2009) argues that moving image education represents a shift away from focusing on the disabilities and difficulties of learners and adopting approaches and programmes that seek to compensate for these perceived deficits. The introduction of a new curriculum such as moving image education therefore provides an opportunity for the emergence of a new complementary pedagogy which seeks to develop the skills and abilities that learners and teachers already possess. Head frames this pedagogy as one of empowerment and hope. Digital Literacies 19

20 Locating digital inclusion in families, homes and communities Evidence suggests that excluded groups can feel uncomfortable approaching providers of formal educational opportunities. Doherty, Smillie and Cook, (2002) for example report that transient people can feel intimidated by tutors and the formal institutions they represent and therefore feel safer accessing basic IT skills within less formal and more familiar settings such as hostels. Reporting on a survey carried out on cybercafés and telecottages operating in the UK, Liff et al. (1999) argued that there will be limitations on the ability of traditional sites of and information provision such as schools, colleges and libraries to provide support for technology use, because of the problems they are likely to have in attracting those who are not already strongly motivated to learn or those for whom such facilities have negative associations because of past failures or lack of familiarity. It is therefore important that marginalised learners can access technology and support in contexts and locations that they feel comfortable about using or being in. wiki beta In the light of evidence like this, much publicly funded digital inclusion work has attempted to locate projects in informal settings in the community. Digital inclusion projects therefore often attempt to establish a physical presence in the local community and depending on local priorities may also develop a range of outreach services. The purpose of these centres in the community is to provide activity professional Personalised Productive access to technology, to support the use of the technology and therefore to bridge the gap between those in society who have access to and algorithm are able to construct use technologies competently, and those who do not (Cook & Light 2006, Cook & Smith 2004, Hall Aitken Associates 2002) blog annotate The centres may have their own nationally branded identity (e.g.uk online centres) or be integrated evidence virtual reality into the local fabric and structures. In their evaluation of UK online centres Hall Aitken Associates (2002) noted that the centres were intended to be located in places people visit every day, with convenient opening hours to offer easy access. They were therefore located in places such as mediate CSCL machine shopping centres, mobile buses and drop in centres. Reporting on their evaluation of the Wired Up Communities Programme Devins et al. (2003) noted a two-pronged strategy which involved attempting to establish a physical presence in the community (e.g. refurbishing a local Miners Welfare Club and using it to provide a local support centre) as well as organising and managing the supply of technology into residents homes. mashup connect cumulate user centred physical authentic Inclusivefolksonomy The South Yorkshire E-inclusion Projects (SYeLP, 2008) report on a number of initiatives that were inquire based either in the community or in homes. Two examples are EOTAS and Mobile Internet Access for HTHTS. In the EOTAS (education other than at school) project technology reflection was used to support share students who have difficulties accessing mainstream educational provision for various medical, emotional (anxiety), behavioural (school phobia) and social (teenage pregnancy) reasons. The students were taught in smaller groups or one-to-one in a range of locations such as at home, in resource Centres and libraries. The students and tutors were issued with laptops, memory sticks and educational software. The laptops could be used to access online basic literacy and numeracy training opportunities. In the Mobile Internet Access for HTHTS project, SYeLP funding was used to provide mobile internet access via laptops for children who were unable to attend school for medical reasons and therefore received tuition at home. Under tutor supervision, pupils were able to their friends as well as send and receive work. They were able to engage in research, use online simulations and utilise educational websites just as they would do if they were in school. dialogue touch investigate complexity Flexi experiment intelli disseminate envision prototype debate conte knowledge collaborate conjecture hap feed create Locating digital inclusion in families, homes and communities is not without its problems or challenges such as allowing (or not) for organisational slack and tensions that can exist between informal and formal provision and support. As part of their evaluation of the Wired Up Communities Programme, Devins et al. (2003: page 56) reported that projects struggled to achieve the desired penetration in the time they were given. They note: 20 Digital Literacies

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