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The Digital Fault Line: Navigating the Evolving Digital Divides

Written by Justin Reich
June 06, 2013

At a recent American Educational Research Association conference, I ran a workshop with colleagues from around the country (Betsy DiSalvoMark Chen, Katie DavisNettrice Gaskins) on Understanding Digital Inequalities. We spent 90 minutes with scholars from all over the country examining our evolving understanding of the digital divide.

In my opening comments at the workshop, I argued that the “Digital Divide” might be better framed as a “Digital Fault Line,” where new inequalities open and close as the landscape of technology and economic inequality shifts beneath us. Understanding the digital divide simply as “equal access to technology” ignores how different cultural and economic groups use technology differently. Betsy DiSalvo, for instance, examines differences in cultural relationships with computation, noting that consuming computation (playing games), producing with computation (blogging, tweeting), and producing computation itself (programming, modding) are experienced by different groups in different ways. Young African-American males are disproportionately likely to be consumers of computation and are underrepresented as producers of computation, and her doctoral work with the Glitch Game Testers represents a promising pathway for addressing these inequities.

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One of the outcomes of the meeting was a series of blog posts that we wrote to highlight both our own ideas as workshop facilitators as well as the themes and issues that emerged from our conversation. Here are five posts that open new research pathways and bring new perspectives on the evolving digital divide. 

The Digital Fault Line: Background
The Digital Fault Line: Power, Policy, and Leadership
The Digital Fault Line: Parents, Teachers, and Normal
AERA: Understanding Inequalities in Digital Media & Learning
Normalized Practice will Always Marginalize 

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