Data Collection Photo Slideshow
The purpose of this study is to explore the experiences of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the lives of individuals in rural underserved communities. Computer technologies are having a profound effect on all areas of society. There are many conflicting views about the potential opportunities or roadblocks brought about due to the advent of the Information Age. A social informatics theoretical framework is used to examine the social and cultural factors within the context of the rural environment and to learn more about the human side of technology from the viewpoint of the adult learner. The importance of geography as a key component of the Digital Divide shows the significance of the social context and the split between the rural and the urban populations. Demographics pertaining to ICT diffusion are presented from the international, national, regional (Black Belt region is a persistent poverty area largely in southern rural America), state; and then the local perspective. A historical overview of a rural county is provided along with current secondary education initiatives that offer adults training with computer technologies. Community members, educators, administrators, students and business leaders were interviewed. The focus for this study was the adult learner’s perceptions of this diffusion of technological innovations. Findings from this study show the situational and dispositional barriers to adopting technologies. A Hierarchy of Technology (HOT) continuum, building on the Diffusion of Innovations (DoI) theory, is provided with the descriptive stages in which individuals are situated as they learn from and with ICTs. A 4-C holistic framework (Connectivity, Capability, Content, and Context) for addressing Digital Divide factors is offered as a means to effectively address the issue of access to technology.
INDEX WORDS: ADULT EDUCATION, SOCIAL INFORMATICS, DIGITAL DIVIDE, SOCIAL JUSTICE, INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES, RURAL REGIONS, BLACK BELT, PERSISTENT POVERTY, ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY, QUALITATIVE