Scaffolding Technology for Low Literacy Groups: From Cell Phone to PC?

TitleScaffolding Technology for Low Literacy Groups: From Cell Phone to PC?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsKavanaugh, A. L., A. Puckett, and D. G. Tatar
Refereed DesignationRefereed
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
Date Published03/2013

The capacity to use information technology at levels required for functioning well in society is important for accessing employment and education opportunities, health information, and civic engagement. Low capacity levels are closely associated with low socioeconomic status (SES), as measured by education, literacy levels, and income. In a world in which many employers of low-skill workers, such as Walmart, require an online application, lack of information technology competence is truly a handicap. Nonetheless, an opening exists that may help to address this problem: A growing number of people with low SES already possess and use simple computing devices in the form of cell (i.e., mobile) phones. This article uses an interpretive frames approach to explain why some U.S. adults, primarily indigenous to Appalachian Virginia, with low SES and low computer literacy might be able to learn basic computing skills and knowledge through the use of their cell phones. The study explored these ideas through short questionnaires and interviews with a small group of low SES Appalachian adults as they participated in a few sessions of traditional-style basic computer training. This exploratory work falls into the area of determining interpretive frames used by local populations and is intended to help design larger studies leading to interface design and computer learning strategies and materials for low SES Appalachian groups that are culturally and cognitively sensitive to frame bridging theoretical approaches.