What does the digital divide mean to higher education?
My latest article, “Higher Education, Digital Divides, and a Balkanized Internet” , appeared this week in the EDUCAUSE Review, as an editor’s pick. In it I explore what the digital divide actually is in the United States, starting from a quick survey of its history, then diving into how it plays out in the present for education. Naturally the focus is on the future – and how higher education can address this serious problem.
Here’s the conclusion, or the sting in the article’s tail:
Academic and IT leaders have the ability — indeed, the obligation — to think carefully about the future. Strategic plans are predicated on this type of extended vision, as are college and university commitments to supporting generations of students for lifelong learning. If new and deeper digital divides loom ahead, threatening to split apart not only students but also communities, can higher education leaders in good conscience resist taking action now?
The alternative is to acquiesce to an increasingly Balkanized Internet, in an increasingly divided nation, with increasingly accepted inequalities. Is that a future we can accept? Is that a world we can help build through our actions and policies? Or is it a future that higher education academic and IT leaders, with all of their creativity and commitment to students, can and should oppose?
My thanks to everyone who helped see this article through, from the Review’s awesome editor Teddy Diggs to my splendid Patreon supporters.
(very cool art © 2017 Dung Hoang)