The context of use

Reading the Futurelab report Beyond the Digital Divide: Rethinking digital inclusion for the 21st century (Selwyn and Facer, 2007) (1) I am struck by their exposition of a number of digital divides – beynd the ‘traditional’ one of access. In particular, there is the divide caused by a misalignment of the culture of the context in which ICT is being used.

This leads me to address the question: How can we assess the ICT capability of a person without assessing the mediating effect of the context and culture in which they are operating? In particular the context of the school and the education system.

To quote the report (p16) “If the wider cultural context of use (such as the workplace,  school or home) does not fi t well with the culture of the ICT application, then  use will not easily follow. As such ICT use is not just based on the individual  being able to ‘understand’ the potential benefi ts of ICT use, but how well  ICT-based activity ‘fi ts’ with the wider contexts within which they are  operating.”

(1) Selwyn, N and Facer, K (2007)  Beyond the Digital Divide: Rethinking digital inclusion for the 21st century, Bristol: Futurelab available online at http://www.futurelab.org.uk/resources/documents/opening_education/Digital_Divide.pdf accessed 25/07/07

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2 Responses to The context of use

  1. Stephen Powell says:

    Pete asks, “How can we assess the ICT capability of a person without assessing the mediating effect of the context and culture in which they are operating?” I don’t think is is the correct question as clearly we can assess a persons ICT capability in whatver context they operate. I think what is more important is something along the lines of ‘How can we explain the ICT capability of a person in relation to the mediating effect…’

  2. petebradshaw says:

    I’m not sure, Stephen. What I think i mean is that in assessing an individual’s capability any judgement will be filtered by the context in which that judgement is made. Or maybe the perception of that capability will be. If someone is in an ICT-rich context then they may manifest higher capability than if they are not.

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