Digital divide framework: online learning in developing countries during the COVID-19 lockdown
Globalisation, Societies and Education
This article showcases digital inequalities that came to the forefront for online learning during the COVID-19 lockdown across five developing countries, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan. Large sections of population in developing economies have limited access to basic digital services; this, in turn, restricts how digital media are being used in everyday lives. A digital divide framework encompassing three analytical perspectives, structure, cultural practices and agency, has
... been developed. Each perspective is influenced by five constructs, communities, time, location, social context and sites of practice. Community relates to gendered expectations, time refers to the lockdown period while locations are interleaved online classrooms and home spaces. Societal contexts influence aspects of online learning and how students engage within practice sites. We find structural issues are due to lack of digital media access and supporting services; further that female students are more often placed lower in the digital divide access scale. Cultural practices indicate gendered discriminatory rules, with female students reporting more stress due to added household responsibilities. This impacts learner agency and poses challenges for students in meaningfully maximising their learning outcomes. Our framework can inform policy-makers to plan initiatives for bridging digital divide and set up equitable gendered learning policies.