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“You are too out!”: a mixed methods approach to the study of “digital divides” in three Chinese senior secondary schools

XIAO, ZHIMIN (2013) “You are too out!”: a mixed methods approach to the study of “digital divides” in three Chinese senior secondary schools. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This sequential mixed methods study investigates the differences in adolescent engagement with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) such as computers, mobile phones, and the Internet. The multi-case project involves 698 second year high school students from three socioeconomically, ethnoculturally, and geographically specific schools in China. It examines the ways in which social factors, such as ethnicity and rurality/urbanity, shape technology access and use before analysing social and educational consequences of youth interaction with ICT. While the quantitative strand lends its power to reveal structural inequalities in the levels of access and use, the qualitative interviewing sheds light on the diversities in use and gives voice to individuals as they encode technology with values and meanings. The research finds that urban students in Shenzhen have the highest level of access to technology and support, use ICT for the widest range of activities, and are most likely to treat them as “life” and “thought” companions for psychosocial, emotional, and intellectual gains. On average, Tibetans are disadvantaged; but the most digitally marginalised teenagers are mainstream Han students with parents having no more than six years of education. Nonetheless, the return to parental education is by far greater for Han students than it is for Tibetans. While the probability of students reporting underachievement decreases as parental education increases, Tibetans are significantly less likely to report “Below average” or “Bottom 10%” in class. The study also discovers that access to ICT strongly correlates with socioeconomic status, but use of them articulates ways of learning and living, which are often resistant to change. As the global and fast-changing ICT become more prevalent, oftentimes adults highlight what they might do to students, while teenagers emphasise what they can do for them. So technology and culture regularly clash. When ICT are introduced to schools by adults, they rarely satisfy the needs of adolescents; and when they have any effect on learning, usually it is not because of what students have in school, it is because of what they do elsewhere — at home or in Internet cafés.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:ICT, Digital Divide, Inequality, Tibet, China, New Media, Young People, cyberspace, Internet café, mobile phone, Gaokao
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2013
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:01 Oct 2013 10:16

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