Lenses for Digital Inclusion: A Social Work Framework for Research, Policy and Practice
Lenses for Digital Inclusion: A social work framework for research, policy and practice
Dr Deborah West
The digital divide can be conceived of as a reflection of the broader social divides which exist within society and contribute to the experience of social exclusion on many levels. As such, any attempts to overcome digital disadvantage needs to be extended beyond access and technological solutions.
Underpinned by social work theory and knowledge from the fields of technology, lifelong learning and three research studies, this paper presents an alternative framework for increasing digital inclusion. Data was collected from a total of 2345 respondents via self-completed questionnaires, interviews and non-participant observation to consider barriers to the use of technology, learning preferences in computer classes and computer class design features.
The model provides a two-step framework for considering the structural, psychosocial and individual factors that influence digital inclusion: access, knowledge and awareness, learning opportunities and support and a range of skills. The model provides a structure for understanding the digital divide and progressing research, analysis, policy and programme development to increase digital inclusion. It also provides a theoretical framework for future enquiry and lays the foundation for a link between theory and practice.
Keywords: Digital divide, Lifelong Learning, Social inequality
Dr. Deborah West
Senior Lecturer, Social Work and Welfare Studies, Charles Darwin University