Doctor of Philosophy
School of Education
Apps, Tiffani Louise, ICT literacy and the digital divide: Understanding primary students’ ICT practices and possibilities, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, School of Education, University of Wollongong, 2015. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/4797
Despite popular assumptions that children of today possess high levels of skill and knowledge in the use of information communication technologies (ICT), results from large-scale assessments of ICT literacy indicate that young people’s ICT literacy is generally low-level and is associated with factors such as socioeconomic status, geographical location and ethnicity. These patterns of digital inequality are commonly referred to as the digital divide, which is the difference between those who have, or have access to learning, the necessary ICT skills and competencies and those who do not. Addressing this digital divide is a global imperative, as individuals who do not develop ICT literacy will be limited in their economic, civic and social participation. This sentiment is reflected in Australian educational goals that indicate that the school context plays a significant role in the development of ICT literacy to ensure digital inclusion for all citizens.
To address the digital divide requires a deep understanding of the way children use ICT. Research that has investigated children’s ICT practices has mostly been large-scale quantitative studies that have identified the significant role that economic, social and cultural capital has on children’s ICT literacy achievement. The findings from these studies have shown that in general ‘advantaged’ families possess greater stocks of technological capital than ‘disadvantaged’ families. Beyond this binary view of the digital divide, a number of studies have begun to detail profiles of ICT experience to illustrate the nuances of individual ICT use and engagement. These studies have focused on the role of individual and contextual characteristics on ICT practices. Yet, what is not known is how and why differing home ICT experiences, including variations in economic, cultural and social capital, shape school-based ICT literacy. This study explored this gap in knowledge by investigating the home ICT experiences and school-based ICT literacy of students in their final year of primary school, highlighting their perspectives in exploring and explaining their ICT literacy.