Question: How has the integration of laptops/devices affected the digital divide in rural communities when paired with digital literacy? 


This paper will look at how the integration of technology has affected the access to technology aspect of the digital divide and the impact digital literacies has on this condition.  By looking through the research that has been conducted on technology integration in various forms in rural communities in order to create a blueprint for such integration into the grade 8 class at Fort St James Secondary.  This paper will acknowledge but not focus on the infrastructure shortcomings of the area, as there is a local network within the school that will still provide necessary access.  Particular interest will be paid to digital literacies and how their implementation contributes to the success of technology integration.  A case study of the Wireless Writing Program, now the Curriculum with Technology, will be presented as a successful model of technology integration and the basis for personal experience within the program.

Keywords: digital literacies, technology integration, digital divide, wireless writer program, curriculum with technology

Belshaw, D. (2012, March 12). The essential elements of digital literacies. [Video]. TedxWarwick. The essential elements of digital literacies: Doug Belshaw at TEDxWarwick

Belshaw, author of the book The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies, explains that digital literacy is a misnomer because it is not a single literacy, but a collection of elements. He names each of the elements: confident, creative, critical, civic, communicative, constructive, cognitive, and cultural. Belshaw defines the differences between sequential versus progressive learning by referencing dial-up rendering of a picture. He further explains digital literacies as the intersection of individual interest and important issues. This presentation provides a different view of teaching and learning and the complex nature of digital literacy allowing for a broader understanding.

Black, Rosemary & Atkinson, J.. (2007). Addressing the digital divide in rural Australia. AusWeb 2007: 13th Australasian World Wide Web Conference.

In this paper, the authors break down eight aspects of the digital divide: income, education, age, location, disability, opinion, gender and culture; providing detailed explanations in plain language and providing details on rural Australia specifically. They focus on a unique program in rural Australia that focused on neutralizing the digital divide, not only in schools but in the communities as a whole. The clear-cut definitions provide a solid foundation for an understanding of the facets of this jargon that cannot be overlooked. The focus on community and education in rural areas not being mutually exclusive is sometimes an aspect of technological integration that is overlooked.

Howley, C. B., & Howley, A. (1995). The Power of Babble: Technology and Rural Education. The Phi Delta Kappan, 77(2), 126–131.

Craig B.  Howley, director of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools at the Appalachia Educational Laboratory, and Aimee Howley, associate dean of the College of Education at Marshall University, argue that the push for technology integration in rural schools needs to be approached with caution and forethought.  The authors focus on the values of community held by rural schools and how the ‘one best system’ does not always share the same.  Community is essential to education in rural schools and this aspect needs to be preserved, even if it does not further the American economic drive.  The authors present arguments against the claims of telecommunication (empowerment, enrichment, egalitarianism) and urge a focus on finding appropriate technology for the betterment of the community.

Kalonde, G. (2018). Media in Rural Schools. A Case of a Rural High School trying to use iPads in Class Abstract. The Rural Educator, 38(3).

In the paper, Kalonde focuses on the integration of a singular form of technology, the iPad, into a high school in southern Oregon with a population of around a thousand grade nine to twelve students. Both teachers and students were provided with iPads, and observed and reported on their usage through surveys. The most prevalent theme of the research is that access to technology does not mean that it will be accessed equally. The findings of the research included how students primarily used the iPads and the barriers teachers stated about the usage of the iPads in their teaching. While this research focused on the compliance to the Common Core focus of the United States, it gave light to the potential downfalls of mass technological integration without buy-in by the affected population.

Peace River North – School District 60 . (n.d.). Curriculum with Technology. Retrieved from,integral%20part%20of%20the%20program.

This report provided by the Peace River North School District describes the evolution from the Wireless Writing Program (started in 2003) to their current Curriculum with Technology. Details are provided about the gaps that exist within the cold write results completed twice a year and how the District has sought to enhance instruction to close those gaps. All Grade 6 and 7 students were provided with iBooks for the 18 month pilot project with the hopes of demonstrating how technology integration can improve student performance and learning environments. The Wireless Writing Program focused on the implementation and refinement of the BC Provincial Writing Standards. Data from the years up to and including the 2015-2016 school year are available on the District’s website.

Powers, J. R., Musgrove, A. T., & Nichols, B. H. (2020). Teachers Bridging the Digital Divide in Rural Schools with 1:1 Computing. The Rural Educator, 41(1), 61–76.

The authors conducted research in how both students and teachers in a small rural district in Florida utilized individualized technology. There is a focus on the perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use elements of the Technology Acceptance Model rather than the Model as a whole. They speak to the need for quality infrastructure to aid in the success of technological integration, but they look more into the advantages and disadvantages of 1:1 computing. They showcase technology as a tool for education, not its replacement, and that support and digital literacy for all involved in a necessity. This paper provides an example of how technology integration can be used and influence a rural district.

Thomas, Amanda & Falls, Zoe. (2019). Rural Elementary Teachers’ Access to and Use of Technology Resources in STEM Classrooms.

Using the TPACK lens, the authors of this paper speak to the unique opportunities that rural teachers have for the integration of technology within their classrooms. They focus on how rural teachers engage with various forms of technology even with limited infrastructure. The sample size is small: fourteen teachers in thirteen rural communities, providing a foundation for further study. They state the importance of not generalizing this and other research about rural educators and communities. The authors highlight the flexibility of technology use demonstrated by the teachers which are provided as an example of a major difference between rural and urban communities.

Young, N. (Host). (2018, October 21). The digital divide leaves more Canadians offline than you think [Audio podcast episode]. In Spark with Nora Young. CBC Radio One.

This podcast from 2018 defines digital literacy in terms of the digital divide between urban and rural Canadian communities. The digital divide is defined as access to high-speed internet, the ability to afford consistent and reliable high-speed access, and individual skill levels. The speed of access varies drastically, even if access is available. Digital literacy is made more challenging with older technology and training with access to the newest and best is not universally attainable or affordable. Continued access to technology as it changes is essential to the maintenance of an individual’s digital literacy. One of the solutions provided by Nisa Malli, a senior policy analyst at Toronto’s Brookfield Institute, is for K-12 students to have access to laptops and the internet.