Exploring the “Digital Divide”

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Exploring the “Digital Divide” Powered By Docstoc
   the “Digital Divide”

Determining Obstacles to Student
Success in Online Developmental
Writing Classes
Online Enrollment:
   Approx. 3.5 million college students took at least one class online
   20% of the total college enrollment is now online
   10% increase from 2005
   Two-year colleges are leading the growth -- account for nearly half
    of online enrollments
   88% of two-year colleges anticipate their online growth rates to
   Overall enrollment growth rate of only 1.3%

“Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning.” Sloan Consortium. 2007. 18
   June 2008 <>
Developmental Students:
   99% of community colleges and 70% of universities offer
    developmental courses
   40% of incoming students test into developmental levels
   some institutions report as high as 70% for particular
   These numbers are predicted to rise

Saxon, D. Patrick and Hunter Boylan. “Characteristics of Community College Remedial
   Students.” National Center for Developmental Education. 1999. 10 June 2008.
Developmental Online Enrollment:

 3.8% of classes were offered online
 3.6% offered as a hybrid class

Gerlaugh, Katherine, Lizette Thompson, Hunter Boylan and Hildreth Davis. “National
   Study of Developmental Education II: Baseline Data for Community Colleges.”
   Research in Developmental Education 20.4 (2007): 1-4.
Educator Resistance:
   2nd largest obstacle to increasing online offerings („Online Nation”)

   Instructors feel insecure and loss of control when embracing new

   Online classes seen as harder to teach and generating a greater

   Mostly altruistic desires to protect these students:
    -- believe these students lack computer skills and technology access
    -- believe they lack self-discipline and motivation
    -- believe they lack good study and “student” skills
Research Questions:

 What are the barriers for success for
  developmental writers taking online or
  computer-assisted courses?
 To what extent do these barriers affect
  student outcomes?
   No comprehensive studies that determine barriers to
    student success in developmental online courses
   Creates a “Catch-22” scenario:
        -- If barriers exist, failure and withdrawal rates will
        -- Restricting online opportunities risks their ability
          for full preparation and access in subsequent
   Risk widening the “digital divide” rather than shrinking it
Neo-Marxist framework:
   Neo-Marxism softens the traditional Marxist stance
   Considers issues of social inequality, status, culture, and
   Applies to developmental online courses:
       -- Economic status seen as factor in online success
       -- The concept of a school as a social institution
       -- Compelled to act upon the knowledge of social
          inequities: implementing the course delivery which
          best matches students‟ technology skills
Neo-Marxist framework:
Neo-Marxist educational theorists: “the major concern…
  has been with the relationships between the economic
  base and the role of the school in maintaining class
  divisions and the hegemonic culture” (Bowers 365)
   -- Educators decide not to offer online courses based on
      perceived technology limitations due to student
      economic status
   -- Poor students fall further behind middle- and upper-
      class students in both education and career
   -- Class divisions perpetuated
Neo-Marxist framework:
   Marxist Sociology -- Aligns toward a sociological approach
     -- Emphasis on the power of capital to “devalue, degrade, and
        divide workers” (“Marxist Sociology” 184)
     -- Emphasis on culture and cultural institutions

   Culture of developmental students is in economic flux:
     -- Transitioning “from an industrial society, organized around the
        production of goods, to post-industrial society, organized around
        the provision of services and advanced technologies that release
        labor from direct production” (Block and Hirschhorn 363).
     -- Results in a social crisis in which existing social forces “block the
        release of new productive forces, creating social and economic
        stalemate” (Block and Hirschhorn 364)
Data from Tennessee Board of Regents‟ redesigned writing programs:

   Survey:
    -- Student demographics, technology access, computer skills levels, and
        educational background
   Interview:
     -- Students – to determine non-technology barriers and affective domain
         influences; to explore student narratives as developmental writers
     -- Instructors – to determine perceptions of barriers to online success and
         of developmental students in general
   Analyze:
    -- Availability of school-sponsored support
    -- Student outcomes in online, hybrid and face-to-face courses
“Teachers who decide to transform their
composition classrooms from a traditional
environment to a computer-based
environment should be prepared to make a
paradigm shift.”

        --   Dave Moeller, Computers in the Writing Classroom

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