Digital Divide

We hear all the time about the Digital Divide. The cause is always assumed to be due to race, financial means, or the parents' education level. But it is my opinion that none of these is a factor.

There is no digital divide among college students. Before classes start, 100% of them have an email address and a place to post a web page. All class assignments, the class outline, and the lecture notes are available on-line. Some assignments are submitted via email. Many assignment grades are posted via email.

100% of the people in Northern Virginia have access to the internet. Free terminals are available at the the public libraries, in the Manassas mall, and in most schools. Therefore, it is obvious that the digital divide is based on whether a person is required to use the internet to survive. Race and financial means are irrelevant.

At a local high school, on back-to-school night, 100% of the teachers provided email addresses so that parents could contact them. However, not one of them provided a course syllabus on-line or any URLs for related information.

To paraphrase the remarks that Michael Fleisher, the Chief Executive of the Gartner Group, Inc., made for a House Government Reform subcommittee hearing.
"The Internet will soon be so pervasive that not having access to the technology or not knowing how to use it will be the equivalent of not knowing how to read or write. The fate of the 50 million adults who will suddenly find themselves functionally 'illiterate' in the new economy is an issue of profound importance."

There are 3 parts to the digital divide

One of my college students recently told us not to call any more. He considers the phone to be a rude method of communication. He shares his room with 2 other people and when he's not there or when someone's asleep, the phone is simply a bother. We were told that we should use email for normal communications and ICQ if we need a more immediate response.

In a recent situation, my son was having problems with a homework problem. While we were working on it, the computer informed us that his sister came home (she's in another state). Using ICQ, she was able to explain the solution.