Monday, November 24, 2014

More ways than one to examine the "Digital Divide"?

As we have progressed through this course, the term “digital divide” continues to echo through numerous conversations. It is discussed through the same lens time and time again. The divide refers to the difference in economic and social importance. Those who have more, get more; the difference between those of privilege and those lacking privilege. Now for a minute I want everyone to consider other lenses to view the “digital divide”.
In the article,, a new view, a new look at how technology and knowledge can separate us as a society. It is not based on money, or privilege, or social status. This “digital divide” crosses all economic boundaries to inflict its debilitating effect on a specific age group of Americans, the elderly. The article speaks to the availability and proliferation of the use of digital technology to assist patients in becoming more informed and participate in a comprehensive overview of their medical records. Healthcare providers are utilizing technology in order to enable citizens to participate in their treatments and streamline auxiliary functions. Medical providers have created online applications such as online bill pay, insurance provider information, and patient portals for direct access to patient records.
The problem is that less than one third of Americans use the web for health information. If you couple that with less than ten percent of that one third have the competent ability to navigate the online healthcare system. These numbers are alarming. (1) The elderly as a group are the largest consumers of healthcare products in the U.S. However, it would seem that the progress and innovation that has enabled healthcare to evolve so much has left its largest consumer in the dark. The question that can now be presented is: how can this population become literate of web-based healthcare and actively utilize these new options? Here is a case of market failure. Private industry has not recognized a method for profitability to educate the elderly in this technology. The government has either been unable or unwilling to create and implement resources to assist the elderly in obtaining the needed education so they may navigate through this new technology. Could a not for profit organization be created with a mission to help and enable the senior population to employ these new avenues of communication and information? Or does this segment of our society continue to fall behind and dwell in obscurity?
The next alternate lens to examine the concept of “digital divide” comes from the article, Here the author examines the New York State educational system and the gaps that exist in the technology sector. The author exploits the fact that many teachers in the classroom today have to consider and accept that in all likelihood many of their students know more about technology than they do. Here the educator is being taught by the student. This is a confusing and troubling role reversal. The article discusses the heightened need for professional development, for educators, in technology while also discussing the desire for implementation of computer science in the core curriculum. Now we have a digital divide of knowledge and comprehension of technology between educator and student, with the student being more advanced.  Also included in the article is the City of New York’s intent to bridge the “digital divide” as far as some of the hardware involved. In an attempt to bring more and better technology to NYC schools there is a heightened urgency to enhance the fiber and broadband components as well as other computer hardware. Along with NYC efforts to overcome the problem of “unequal access to broadband technology… there is an initiative to convert 8400 public payphones into Wi-Fi hotspots.” This program will help address two major concerns for the city. It will reduce both the “digital desert and the digital divide.” This is a novel idea with a fantastic opportunity for innovation and renovation. This futuristic vision will make use of the existing infrastructure while implementing new technology to support the people.

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