New Inequalities Caused By Digital Technologies in Higher Education?

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 09:18
Oral Presentation
Isabel STEINHARDT, University of Kassel, Germany
Digital technologies are seen as the new form to generate equality in education in general, but also in higher education. For example, UNESCO explained that digital technologies “can contribute to universal access to education, equity in education, the delivery of quality learning and teaching" (http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/themes/icts/). Some studies show how often students use digital technologies for their studies, e.g. open education resources, digital learning programs, e-lectures, facebook-groups (Yousef et al. 2015; Corrin et al. 2010). But less well known is how they use the digital technologies and is less well known if digital technologies really equity higher education. We know that there are no digital natives (Gallardo-Echenique 2015) and that the knowledge about the use of digital technologies also depends on the socio-economic background (Schulmeister 2012). On the basis of these findings, it is more likely that digital technologies will not reduce inequality in the higher education system but rather consolidate existing inequality or establish new forms of inequality.

In order to verify the assumption that digital technologies do not reduce inequality in the higher education system, biographical interviews were conducted with students from six disciplines of German higher education institutions (including universities and universities of applied sciences). The interviews focus on the practice of learning and studying with digital technologies, which make it possible to reconstruct the habitus and the milieu (Bourdieu 1982; Lange-Vester 2012). Habitus and the milieu make it possible to develop typologies of the practice of using digital technologies, which helps to understand new forms of inequality in higher education through digital technologies. These typologies will be presented at the conference.