By John Hamerlinck
The Digital Divide (the gap between those who benefit from technology and those who do not) still exists, and today the stakes are higher than ever for those left behind. According to the NTIA, low-income people, seniors, and people of color continue to populate the have-not side of the divide.
The Twin Cities-based Technology Literacy Collaborative (TLC) promotes digital inclusion by sharing best practices, advocating for technology literacy skills and access, and promoting collaborative efforts. This week I attended a Digital Inclusion event convened by TLC at the University of Minnesota. Among the presenters at the event was David Keys, Community Technology Program Manager for the City of Seattle. He reinforced the importance of having a digital inclusion strategy that includes:
- Access – to hardware, software, and high-speed connectivity;
- Literacy – media literacy and the skills necessary to navigate digitally facilitated aspects of life; and
- Content – ensuring that what folks have access to is relevant to their needs, and if not helping them to create that content themselves
Because college campuses are places that have both newer technologies and a large numbers of efficient users, there should be an endless number of ways to connect to community activists trying to bridge the divide. For example, after the event I caught up with Ken Nelson, Director of a local nonprofit called The Digital Divide Initiative. His organization not only helps to connect low-income families to technology, but also does it in a context that really creates aspiration among youth to explore the STEM fields of education. As I heard Ken describe their programs I imagined multiple ways that numerous academic disciplines could support that work while giving college students valuable hands-on experience.
How is you campus partnering with the community to address this issue? If you are working on this issue and would like to collaborate with a campus, what would that collaboration look like?