Unit 5 Digital divide

Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should:

  • be aware of the key issues related to the digital divide
  • have considered how access to information impacts socities
  • have evaluated a case study using various ethical frameworks

Activity 1: Starter quiz

Work alone. Analyze the dilemma given below. Decide your stance on the issues. Identify supporting reasons for your stance. Evaluate the strength of the evidence. Use terminology introduced in this course related to ethics.

At a local school some students come from families that can afford personal computers and high-speed internet access, many students do not. The school administration decided to address this inequality by giving a high-quality laptop to each student. The school was awarded a grant to fund this initiative. However, the grant was not enough to cover the cost of laptops for all the students. Should the administration:

  1. distribute lower-quality laptops to all students, or
  2. distribute higher-quality laptops to some students? If so, how should the students be selected?

State your views, provide justification and refer explicitly to various ethical frameworks

Assessment criteria
  1. Organisation
  2. Evidence-based
  3. Precision of terminology
  4. Counter argumentation, i.e. critical analysis

Activity 2: Introduction to digital divide

Watch or listen to this slideshow.

Discuss the content of this slide deck.

Activity 3: Digital divide - terminology

Read these definitions of terminology related to the digital divide.

  1. Digital Divide: The gap between individuals or communities who have access to digital technologies and those who do not, often resulting in disparities in education, employment, and opportunities.
  2. Information Divide: Unequal access to information resources, including libraries, databases, and educational materials, which can hinder learning and research opportunities.
  3. Mobile Divide: Differences in access to and use of mobile devices and mobile internet, which can affect participation in the digital world.
  4. Information Inequality: Unequal access to and distribution of information resources, leading to disparities in knowledge and decision-making power.
  5. Access Disparities: Differences in the availability of internet access, devices, and infrastructure, contributing to the digital divide.
  6. Internet Accessibility: The extent to which individuals can connect to the internet, influenced by factors like affordability, infrastructure, and geographical location.
  7. Information Poverty: The condition in which individuals or communities lack access to essential information, limiting their opportunities and quality of life.
  8. Homework Gap: The disparity in students' access to the internet and digital devices, affecting their ability to complete school assignments and participate in remote learning.
  9. Technological Redlining: Discriminatory practices by internet service providers that result in underserved or marginalized communities receiving lower-quality or more expensive services.
  10. Technological Literacy: The ability to use, understand, and navigate digital technologies, essential for full participation in the modern information society.
  11. Digital Literacy: The ability to critically evaluate and use digital information, including understanding issues related to privacy, security, and online credibility.
  12. Online Participation: The extent to which individuals engage in online activities such as social media, e-commerce, and remote work, influenced by digital access and skills.
  13. Policy Interventions: Government or organizational actions aimed at reducing the digital divide through measures like subsidies, infrastructure development, and digital literacy programs.

Activity 4: Personalisation: The digital divide in your area

Work in groups. Discuss the state of the digital divide in your regions/countries.

Take the opportunity to integrate some of the terminology above into your discussion

Activity 5: Discussion preparation

Read the proposal below and identify the ethical issues that need to be discussed.

Leveraging Data Analytics to Enhance the Learning Experience at Our University

Dear Student Council Members,

We propose the implementation of a data analytics program to enhance student engagement and improve academic performance at our University. As part of this initiative, we plan to introduce a cutting-edge Learning Management System (LMS) that will track metrics such as time spent on the platform, the number of assignments submitted, participation in forums, and frequency of log-ins. While the potential cost-saving benefits of switching to a cloud-based LMS have stirred debate among faculty, we believe the focus should remain on how best to utilize data for the benefit of our educational community.

The system would employ several actionable measures based on the collected data. For instance, students logging less than two hours per week could receive automated "academic risk" alerts designed to encourage increased platform interaction. Additionally, we suggest offering financial incentives to instructors whose courses record above-average engagement rates, as measured by the time students spend on the LMS. Furthermore, courses that consistently report lower engagement could be flagged for curriculum review and potential redevelopment.

However, it's important to address the various concerns that may arise from this proposal. A recent opinion piece in the university newspaper criticized the usability of most LMS platforms, and rumors have been circulating about the possibility of selling collected data to third-party educational firms. While these issues are noteworthy, they should not distract from the core purpose of this proposal, which is to utilize data to improve the educational experience at XYZ University.

To prompt a robust discussion, consider the following questions:

  • Is it ethical to categorize students as "at-risk" based solely on LMS engagement metrics?
  • Will rewarding instructors based on LMS engagement lead to a more accurate evaluation of teaching quality?
  • How reliable are metrics like time spent on the LMS as indicators of student engagement or academic performance?
  • What privacy concerns might arise from collecting such data, and how should they be securely addressed?
  • Are there specific cultural factors, given our university's location in Japan, that could influence the effectiveness of an LMS?
  • Could this system inadvertently disadvantage certain groups, such as working students who may have limited time to engage with the platform?

We invite the Student Council to engage in a comprehensive discussion of these questions to evaluate the ethical, pedagogical, and practical aspects of implementing data analytics within our educational environment. Your insights will be invaluable for shaping a more effective and equitable learning experience.

The Data Analytics for Education Committee

Work in pairs or small groups. Discuss the ethical issues you have identified.

Activity 6: Formal logic: Valid propositions and invalid arguments

Work in pairs. Identify which of the following lead to sound conclusions.

  1. If A, then B. B. Therefore, A.
  2. If A, then B. A. Therefore, B.
  3. If A, then B. Not A. Therefore, B.
  4. If A, then B. Not B. Therefore, not A.
  5. Either A or B. Not A. Therefore, B.
  6. Either A or B. Not B. Therefore, A.
  7. If A, then B. If B, then C. Therefore, if A, then C.
  8. If A, then B. If C, then D. Therefore, if A, then D.

Activity 7: Seminar discussion 3 Preparation

Your tutor will explain the procedure and set the topic.

The assessment criteria are:

  1. Argumentation
  2. Content
  3. Interaction
  4. Terminology


Can you:

  1. describe what the digital divide is
  2. define the core terms related to digital divide listed in Activity 3

If you can not, make sure that you do before your next class.

Running count: 61 of 61 concepts covered so far.