Trends on Tuesday: Americans’ ‘Digital Divide’ on Tech Savviness and Digital Learning

The Pew Internet and the American Life Project released a report recently that analyzed the use of digital tools for different groups of tech literacies and found some interesting ‘digital divides’ and levels of trust, usage, and skill.

American flag Pie graph with 5 pieces.

The report broke out 5 personas of the American people:

  • Digitally Ready (17 percent of U.S. Adults) are the ardent digital learners confident in online information
  • Cautious Clickers (31 percent of U.S. Adults) with high levels of tech understanding and adoption, but not as confident in online information
  • The Reluctant (33 percent of U.S. Adults) who have high digital skills but low awareness for digital education technology
  • Traditional Learners (5 percent of U.S. Adults) are active learners who have technology but not online-first in their quest for information
  • The Unprepared (14 percent of U.S. Adults) have lower levels of tech adoption and limited confidence in their online skills
  • The upper half of Cautious Clickers and Digitally Ready are more adept at technology tended to be younger, more educated, and more wealthy than the rest of the more hesitant personas, who tended to be older, lower income, lower education levels, and minority.

    In the survey, people being familiar with just the terminology of digital learning, such as “Distance Learning” and “MOOCs” were at or below the halfway point. There was also widely varying levels of usage vs. trust vs. skills for each category, with the Digitally Ready and Cautious Clickers using technology for digital education more than 60+ percent for education, while The Reluctant and Unprepared both were below 41 percent. Interestingly, Traditional learners peaked in their usage and trust of digital learning resources at 47 percent, higher than the other less technical groups.

    E-learning-concept of miniature school desks and chalkboard on a laptop keyboard.

    Government agencies planning on using digital tools should keep these personas and research in mind and plan their strategy to best serve all populations, especially those that are not as tech savvy or educated.

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