06 SES 03, Digital Media: Innovative Use and Reluctance
The purpose of this paper is to highlight the use of online social networks to improve the digital inclusion of women and to overcome the digital gender gap in Spain (South) and Portugal (North).
The opportunities that information and communication technologies implicate for women, in the processes of change, are seen as an important perspective to the current research about the relationship between women and technology (Azevedo & Seixas, 2009). The rapid expansion of online social networking has led to changes in the traditional roles of individuals, from passive consumers to agents who transform and produce knowledge. The sharing of online content on websites, blogs, Facebook or Twitter was the beginning of a practice that currently goes beyond merely an informational dimension, to become a digital agora. Today, the social network Facebook in particular has become the setting in which diverse communities have developed, exchanging information, constructing and sharing knowledge, developing values and practices as citizens such as cultural, educational or business activities. According to Sloep and Berlanga (2011), the way we have organized early education in our societies makes it inappropriate to educate adults who study to acquire specific competencies needed in their lives. The knowledge society, characterized by the relentless production of knowledge, has changed the ways in which we learn and has broadened the learning contexts.
Many studies have shown gender differences in the uses and relationships between people and technologies (Wasserman & Richmond-Abbott, 2005; Hilbert, 2011). However, the web 2.0 and, especially, social networking have changed the presence and participation of women in virtual environments. Some studies reveal that social networking activities related to maintaining contact with friends and family are led mainly by women (Clipson, Wilson & DuFrene, 2010; Mazman & Usluel, 2011). Social networks, as personal learning environments, are of great value in creating synergies between formal and informal settings for learning and to adapt educational strategies to promote adult learning and digital inclusion (Adell & Castaneda, 2010). Those studies are supported by: a) a dynamic and comprehensive notion of learning as a process that encompasses different systems and contexts of activity, which provide people with opportunities to learn, and also involve adaptation and change to be permanently updated throughout life and, b) a perspective of the learner as an active agent who is able to decide what, how, when and where to learn, and above all, with whom to learn.
Taking into account the previous theoretical framework, we have formulated the following questions:
- What do social networks do to women's lives?
- Why are social networks more meaningful to women than other technologies?
- What experiences have value for women and to what extent can their use change / improve their lives?
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