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The long-term effects of digital literacy programs for disadvantaged populations: analyzing participants’ perceptions

Azi Lev-On (Ariel University, Ariel, Israel)
Nili Steinfeld (Ariel University, Ariel, Israel)
Hama Abu-Kishk (Sapir Academic College, D.N. Hof Ashkelon, Shderot, Israel)
Sigal Pearl Naim (Max Stern Yezreel Academic College, Yezreel Valley, Israel)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 28 December 2020

Issue publication date: 3 March 2021

762

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine the long-term effects of an Israeli digital literacy government program for disadvantaged populations, as they are perceived by participants of the program one year after completing the course.

Design/methodology/approach

Participants in the program were interviewed about the effects of participating in the program, their experiences and satisfaction, in retrospect, a year after they completed the program.

Findings

The main reasons for joining the program included cognitive motivations, mainly interest to become familiar with internet applications, followed by employment aspiration. Positive benefits from participation included accumulated knowledge, confidence in using technology, empowerment and enhanced sense of self-efficacy. Interviewees also reported that as they could not practice or communicate with instructors once they completed the program, a significant portion of the accumulated gains faded.

Social implications

Social and practical implications: Digital technologies constitute key infrastructure to facilitate public participation, as well as for gaining social, political and economic capital. Therefore, there is a significant social value in reducing digital inequality by increasing digital literacy of disadvantaged populations, i.e. citizens with low socioeconomic status and low digital literacy. This study sheds light on the benefits gained from such programs, as perceived by past participants.

Originality/value

While previous studies evaluating digital literacy programs focus on specific technical improvements and short-term gains, this study investigates the long-term effects and shortcomings of the program as perceived by participants.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The study was supported by the Institute for the Study of New Media, Politics and Society at Ariel University. The researchers thank Dr Esther Brainin, Tania Zilberstein, Itay Karkason, Naomi Bitman, Sapir Bachar, Inbal Lax-Froind, Arava Rottman and Ariella Kagan for their help in research and preparation of the manuscript.

Citation

Lev-On, A., Steinfeld, N., Abu-Kishk, H. and Pearl Naim, S. (2021), "The long-term effects of digital literacy programs for disadvantaged populations: analyzing participants’ perceptions", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 146-162. https://doi.org/10.1108/JICES-02-2020-0019

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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