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Pew Research Center Report: Digital Readiness Gaps

Concerns about “digital divides” have in the past focused mainly on people’s access to digital technologies. There is now an increasing focus on the extent to which people succeed or struggle when they attempt to use technology for problem-solving, decision-making, or finding pathways through their environments.

A new Pew Research Center report1 explores the attitudes and behaviours underpinning people’s preparedness and comfort in using digital tools for learning.

Specifically, American adults were assessed according to five main factors: their confidence in using computers, their facility with getting new technology to work, their use of digital tools for learning, their ability to determine the trustworthiness of online information, and their familiarity with contemporary “education tech” terms.

The analysis showed that there are distinct groups of people that fall along a spectrum of preparedness.

Digital Readiness Gaps

There are several important qualifying notes to consider in regard to the analysis:

  • The research focuses on a particular activity – online learning. The findings are not necessarily transferable.
  • There is some fluidity in the boundaries of the groups.
  • The findings represent a snapshot of where adults are today in a fairly nascent stage of e-learning in society.


  1. Horrigan, J.B. (2016, September). Digital Readiness Gaps. Pew Research Center.
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Also published on Medium.

Bruce Boyes

Bruce Boyes ( is editor, lead writer, and a director of the award-winning RealKM Magazine (, and a knowledge management (KM), environmental management, and project management professional. He is a PhD candidate in the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group at Wageningen University and Research, and holds a Master of Environmental Management with Distinction. His expertise and experience includes knowledge management (KM), environmental management, project management, stakeholder engagement, teaching and training, communications, research, and writing and editing. With a demonstrated ability to identify and implement innovative solutions to social and ecological complexity, Bruce's many career highlights include establishing RealKM Magazine as an award-winning resource, using agile and knowledge management approaches to oversee an award-winning $77.4 million western Sydney river recovery program, leading a knowledge strategy process for Australia's 56 natural resource management (NRM) regional organisations, pioneering collaborative learning and governance approaches to support the sustainable management of landscapes and catchments, and initiating and teaching two new knowledge management subjects at Shanxi University in China.

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