Multicultural Student Services Center

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Bridging the Digital Divide fall 03

Fall 2003
The 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 Presentation that describes the Bridging the Digital Divide course or download the revised syllabus 
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.The 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 careers. Course ArchiveSpring 2003 Home

2002 Course Schedule (Tentative)
Photo Album

Course: CSV 302 Bridging the Digital Divide(2001)

Mentor Application Form


“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 students.

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 freshman class.

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 service course.

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

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