Bridging the Digital Divide course explores the social, economic,
cultural, and political implications of the digital divide, or the gap between
those with access to and understanding of information technology
and those without. The course is taught in a mentor/mentee style
where each student has an individual mentor throughout the semester to assist
him or her in grasping concepts, mastering computer tutorials, comprehending
readings, and completing in and out of class homework assignments.
View a Powerpoint
describes the Bridging the Digital Divide course or download the revised
The course offers participants the opportunity to explore the theoretical
concept of the digital divide, gain a foundation of computer-based skills
that they will draw on in other courses at URI and throughout their careers,
and build a set of professional material such as a resume and a cover letter.
Additionally, participants will work collaboratively on developing, expanding,
and enhancing a URI Digital Divide course website, which will be updated
and enhanced every semester by current students.
course focuses on theoretical issues pertaining to the digital divide
in order to lay a conceptual foundation as to why students need to understand
and appreciate the course material.
The assignments and professional material challenges them to process
and personalize conceptual issues relating to the digital divide while
at the same time they challenge them to practice and improve vital computer-based
skills. The course emphasizes software that is available on computers
throughout campus such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Front
Page. This software is generally
regarded to be accessible, affordable, and applicable in both academic
and business environments. As such, students will be able to use the skills
that they gain from this course in other classes and in their professional
Course Schedule (Tentative)
Course: CSV 302 Bridging the Digital Divide (2001)
"Bridging the Digital Divide"
is a pilot program providing students enrolled in
URI's Special Programs for Talent Development with
recycled computers at no cost. In addition, the
program incorporates a cross-cultural experience
for the participants.
At the beginning of the fall semester 2000, the
students received recycled computers through this
program. They will keep the units through the completion
of their degrees, then return them for use by other
The Talent Development students now in the program
have each been paired with a mentor from a different
cultural group to foster cultural and ethnic learning
and to gain valuable computer skills.
The mentors receive credits for their participation
through a URI community service course that links
computer skills with cultural sensitivity.
To keep the computer, Talent Development students
must attend a weekly seminar, complete computer
assignments, and meet with mentors and program advisors
outside of class. Most importantly, the students
become the mentors the following academic year.
The program developed out of a university planning
session over the summer of 2000 during which students,
faculty, and staff discussed a strong need to equip
disadvantaged students with technology. This spawned
Bridging the Digital Divide, a program headed by
Graham Bell, the URI bookstore assistant administrator.
Results from a survey conducted by Talent Development
showed that only 32 percent of this year's freshman
(2000) Talent Development students expected to bring
a computer to URI versus 87 percent of the remaining
The results got the attention of Gerald Williams,
the director of Talent Development. "I was
astounded by these statistics because the ability
to compete in the current work force rests in grasping
and possessing the necessary computer skills,"
Williams said. "Bridging the Digitial Divide
will provide this much-needed training."
Shirley Consuegra , a specialist for the URI Feinstein
Center for Service Learning, worked with Bell to
add a cultural learning aspect to the program. Consuegra then
collaborated with Mary Fetherston, the Language
Learning Resource Center supervisor, Joan Peckham,
professor in the Computer Science Department and
Lynn McGrath , a graduate assistant at the URI Multicultural
Center, to establish the curriculum for the community
Melvin Wade, the director of the URI Multicultural
Center, appointed McGrath as the instructor for
the course, and provided a computer lab for the
program's weekly seminar.
Pamela Christman, manager of desktop computing for
Information and Instructional Technology Services,
has helped in the search for computers within the
University. Bell has already approached Apple and
Dell for assistance and is seeking government and
other business support for the program