Impact of the digital divide on information literacy training in a higher education context

Segarani Naidoo, Jaya Raju

Abstract


This paper reports on a masters study undertaken to investigate the impact of the digital divide on information literacy
(IL) training of Extended Curriculum Programme (ECP) students at the Durban University of Technology (DUT). Since
1994 the demographics of higher education institutions in South Africa have changed. Today these institutions comprise
heterogeneous groups of students, by race, economic background, digital background, etc. and consequently with different
levels of literacy, information and otherwise. The problem that this study addressed was the impact of having both digitally
advantaged and digitally disadvantaged students in the same information literacy classroom, expecting them to reach
learning outcomes without frustrating students from either group. The objective of the study was to investigate the impact
of the digital divide on IL training of ECP students at the DUT and to recommend guidelines for teaching and learning of IL
that would accommodate both digitally advantaged and digitally disadvantaged students. The study employed a mixed
method approach in its research design. Data was collected from ECP students (of 2010) by means of a questionnaire; an
interview schedule was used to collect data from Subject Librarians involved in teaching the IL module to ECP students; a
separate interview schedule was used to collect data from the ECP Coordinator. Qualitative and quantitative data
collected were prepared for analysis by means of content analysis and numerical coding, respectively and then subjected
to statistical analysis via SPSS, which produced percentage and frequency distributions to ascertain findings. The findings
of the study revealed that the digital divide does impact on IL training in ways such as: slowing down the progress of IL
lessons; basic computer skills need to be taught in the IL classroom; and that digitally disadvantaged students find it
difficult to follow online lessons while advantaged students already have the expertise to access online information. Based
on these findings the study recommended computer literacy training should precede IL training and that various creative
teaching and learning methods such as group work, online tutorials, games and interactive websites should be
incorporated into IL education to accommodate both digitally advantaged and digitally disadvantaged students in the IL
classroom.

Keywords


Digital divide; higher education; information literacy training

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7553/78-1-46

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