Empowering the digitally excluded: learning initiatives for (in)visible groups
There is growing evidence that some digitally excluded groups of learners are receiving more attention than others. Discussions regarding why some digitally excluded learners are more visible than others and therefore worthy of more committed digital inclusion interventions raises important questions about how we define and conceptualise digital inclusion and digital inclusion practice; particularly in relation to empowerment. In this article, we draw on a range of research, practice and policy literature to examine two important questions: what is empowerment and in whose hands does empowerment lie? We argue that empowerment involves making informed choices about technology use, but that learners often require support- human intervention- to make these choices. However, current digital inclusion research has failed to produce a detailed critique of what constitutes empowering support from educational institutions and their staff. A lack of open and reflexive accounts of practice means that we are no closer to identifying and understanding the kinds of empowering practices that are required to challenge the kinds of prejudices, stereotypes, risk-aversiveness and low aspirations associated with the most invisible of digitally excluded learners.
Research in Learning Technology