I wrote about this topic a couple of years ago in an effort to help people understand why some of us in Scout leader learning at the time did not want to go totally to on-line learning. There are of course other reasons we felt (feel) that way as well.
Some data has changed since I wrote what I did in 2014, but not as drastically as many of us perceive. One data point has actually moved in the opposite direction over the last few years!
A Pew Research report in January noted while most adults (95%) have access to a cell phone, 23% of all US adults still do not have access to a smartphone. Age-wise, 27% of those who are 50-64 and 54% of those over 65 do not have access to a smartphone.
Pew indicated in an 2018 report broadband use at home has actually declined since 2016 and one-third of American adults do not have broadband at home. Eleven percent of US adults do not use the internet at all – at home, at work, nor via a smartphone!
Pew noted “As is true of internet adoption more broadly, home broadband adoption varies across demographic groups. Racial minorities, older adults, rural residents, and those with lower levels of education and income are less likely to have broadband service at home.”
As I noted back in 2014, the percentages who have access to a smartphone are growing steadily. This growth will make communication easier (while some will argue not as effective.) But as Pew notes in an October 2016 article: “whether smartphones are an adequate substitute is open to question. Those who depend on their smartphones to go online encounter constraints with data caps and small screens, and the device is not their ‘go to’ tool for personal learning at home.”
Those of us who are involved in training, or research, or marketing need to remember a significant portion of our folks do not have access to information in the same way many of us assume they do. A large group does not have broadband internet access at all. Even more, importantly, do not have broadband at home.
Lengthy and/or complicated e-learning is still not possible for many people. We need multiple and blended forms of learning and communication.
Unless we want to widen the information gap and eliminate segments of our society from whatever it is we do, we need to still keep the “unconnected” in mind when communicating (and training!) until the day when universal access is a reality.