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Opting out? Women and on-line learning

French, Sheila and Richardson, Helen J. (2005) Opting out? Women and on-line learning. ISSN 0095-2737

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Abstract

From all corners of the globe, the on-line revolution is proclaimed. The imperative is to connect; to shop, work, learn, be governed, even fall in love on-line. Government initiatives proliferate globally, stressing the urgency for citizens to become part of the so called Information Society. In the midst of all this euphoria the question must be raised 'Is this opportunity for all, or just a few?' Information and Communication Technologies (ICT's) are being introduced to the teaching and learning process at an increasing pace. E-government ministers are particularly concerned about the 'have-nets' and 'have-nots' in this 'digital revolution' (e.g. see www.UKonline). Our research in schools and the HE (Higher Education) sector, looking at women learning on-line, has indicated barriers. We discuss how gendered relations in the home, work and education go far beyond having access to IT (Information Technology). We illustrate how these relations contribute to the shaping of the gendered experiences of using technology in education. So whilst women are urged to get connected, we ask whether or not they will want to use technology as a tool to learn with. We suggest that the current gendered discourse surrounding technology and its use in all areas of society should inform government on-line learning policies globally, cutting through the euphoric hype.

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