Bridging the Digital Divide: Case Study of the Distribution of Tablets to First Years at the University of Johannesburg

Zenia Barnard, Derek Van der Merwe
InSITE 2015  •  2015  •  pp. 479-491
The digital divide between those more and those less technologically skilled is a reality and has been for many years. This divide is especially prominent in developing countries such as South Africa and in societies that suffer from socio-economic disadvantage. There are many reasons for the continued presence of this divide and these are briefly described in this paper. The negative consequences that flow from this divide, is also briefly discussed. It is not only social and economic deprivation, though, that contribute to the divide. A project at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to provide tablets to first year students is discussed in some detail. The challenges that arose from the implementation of this initiative make it apparent that factors such as psychology and managerial efficiencies also contribute in no small measure to a perpetuation of the divide. A multi-disciplinary approach to the eventual bridging of the divide is proposed. Such an approach takes account of the need to recognize and develop a host of solutions as necessary preconditions for sustainable technological advancement in developing countries.
digital divide, tablet distribution, higher education, developing countries, multi-disciplinary
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