Reflections on a Community-Based Research Project
Keywords:Digital Divide, Digital Literacy, Digital Justice, Community Informatics
As technology use permeates many parts of society there are still groups where the penetration of technology is low: adults with little exposure to technology during their traditional learning years, users from lower SES, lower education levels, resulting in a digital divide between the digital haves and have-nots. This paper presents a community-based, mixed methods research project that endeavored to study the phenomenon of digital divide through a set of theoretical frameworks: Rawls’ principles of justice as fairness provided the overall social justice umbrella, Sen’s capability approach grounded the study in the specificities of learners’ lives and acknowledged learner diversity, and Horton’s cultural education, Freire’s critical consciousness, and Eubanks’ critical technology education provided the pedagogical lens to understand the importance of the critical learning process in digital education. The findings from the study support the concept of situated or contextual technology that seeks to increase the benefits of technology for adult learners while providing them the tools to manage complex digital environments through relatable instruction, user-centric design for technological tools and interfaces, and more robust government action in alleviating the digital divide through well-designed digital literacy programs.