Learning Never Exhausts The Mind (Leonardo da Vinci) – Can Online Learning Challenge This? -Topic 1


The term ‘digital differences’ considers the inequalities and factors that affect one’s access to technology (FutureLearn, 2018). This consists of age, gender and more. The list does not stop here, showing the diversity of digital differences.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 18.48.59
Made by Chloe Cheung using PowToon (Click on Image to View Video)

Individuals may choose to not use the Web, as they feel it is not relevant to their lifestyle. Often, those who have not been exposed to technology in early years will continue this trend (Zickuhr & Smith, 2012). Social exclusion is another matter, as lack of digital access leaves users at a disadvantage (Halford & Savage, 2010).

In my opinion, excluding digital use would be damaging, considering my main form of communication depends on digital applications.

Digital Differences & Factors

From research to entertainment, the Internet is a platform that provides users the ability to carry out tasks effectively. The rise of Internet use implies the popularity of digital practices (Ofcom, 2016), at work or at home.

Internet Use
Graph Taken from Ofcom Report (2016)

Additionally, digital differences can have a positive effect on learning, exploiting the full potential of digital media (Lutz & Hoffmann, 2017). However, this is not representative for all users because, there are indirect factors which can affect the statistics. These can be identified as macro and personal factors.

Digital Differences Factors
Macro and Personal Factors (Made by Chloe Cheung using Canva)

Impact of Digital Differences

Investigating further into the topic of digital differences, I explored the impact that factors have on my digital differences.

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Impact of Factors on My Digital Differences (Made by Chloe Cheung using Piktochart)


I found that my digital usage was influenced mainly by my cultural background.  Although I have a British nationality, my digital usage correlates with users from Hong Kong (KPMG, 2017). Perhaps this is influenced by my parents, who use mainstream Chinese applications.

Social Media Engagement in Hong Kong and China (KPMG, 2017)

I am glad that my digital differences are not heavily manipulated by these factors. I am provided with many digital opportunities, enriching my learning capabilities. This is reflected in the MOOC I am participating in.

Screen Shot 2018-02-25 at 14.59.06
Evaluation of my digital differences on the online MOOC (FutureLearn, 2018)


Word Count: 303


FutureLearn. (2018). Page from Learning in the Network Age – University of Southampton. [online] Available at: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/learning-network-age/4/steps/303344 [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Digital Differences. (2018). Directed by C. Cheung. United Kingdom: PowToon. Available at: https://www.powtoon.com/embed/cLZvcPSUMZR/ [Accessed 21 Feb 2018]

Zickuhr, K. and Smith, A. (2012). PEW Internet. [online] PEW Internet and American Life Project. Available at: http://www.english.illinois.edu/-people-/faculty/debaron/482/482readings/PEW_Class.pdf  [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Halford, S. and Savage, M. (2010). RECONCEPTUALIZING DIGITAL SOCIAL INEQUALITY. Information, Communication & Society, [online] 13(7), pp.937-955. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1369118X.2010.499956 [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Ofcom. (2016). Section 5: Digital Media Take-Up and Use. [online] Available at: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/102772/section-5-digital-media.pdf [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Lutz, C. and Hoffmann, C. (2017). The dark side of online participation: exploring non-, passive and negative participation. Information, Communication & Society, [online] 20(6), pp.876-897. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/1369118X.2017.1293129?needAccess=true [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Solon, O. (2017). Your browsing history may be up for sale soon. Here’s what you need to know. The Guardian. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/28/internet-service-providers-sell-browsing-history-house-vote [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

Jones, C., Ramanau, R., Cross, S. and Healing, G. (2010). Net generation or Digital Natives: Is there a distinct new generation entering university?. Computers & Education, [online] 54(3), pp.722-732. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360131509002620 [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

Martínez-Cantos, J. (2017). Digital skills gaps: A pending subject for gender digital inclusion in the European Union. European Journal of Communication, [online] 32(5), pp.419-438. Available at: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0267323117718464 [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

Enoch, Y. and Soker, Z. (2006). Age, gender, ethnicity and the digital divide: university students’ use of web‐based instruction. Open Learning, [online] 21(2), pp.99-110. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02680510600713045 [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

Campbell, J. (2017). China VS Hong Kong: One Country Two eCommerce Ecosystems | TongDigital. [online] Tong Digital. Available at: http://www.tongdigital.com/2017/12/06/china-vs-hong-kong-one-country-two-ecommerce-ecosystems/ [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

Nau, S.Z., 2017. From Understanding Net Generation Expectation to Sustainable Student Engagement. In Sustainability, Green IT and Education Strategies in the Twenty-first Century (pp. 63-76). Springer, Cham. Available at: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-57070-9_4   [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018]

Lunceford, B. and Rockwell, S. (2017). Reconsidering the Net Generation: Putting the focus back on the technological landscape. Explorations in Media Ecology, [online] 16(1), pp.91-100. Available at: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/intellect/eme/2017/00000016/00000001/art00008 [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].

KPMG (2017). Outlook of E-Commerce in Hong Kong. [online] Hong Kong: KPMG, GS1, p.30. Available at: https://assets.kpmg.com/content/dam/kpmg/cn/pdf/en/2017/11/outlook-for-e-commerce-in-hong-kong.pdf [Accessed 21 Feb. 2018].


9 thoughts on “Learning Never Exhausts The Mind (Leonardo da Vinci) – Can Online Learning Challenge This? -Topic 1

  1. Hi Chloe,

    I find your blog a really good read! The comparison between the use of the Web at home and work is particularly interesting. Even though the statistics suggest that people use the Internet more at home than at work, do you think there are any particular cases/categories of users that use the Internet more at work than at home?

    Also, I was wondering your reasons as to why you think digital differences could have a positive impact on learning?
    I think we should try to close the gap of digital differences for learners so that they can all benefit from the Internet and use it as a tool for learning.
    Here’s an article that includes how the Web can be used to enhance education :https://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/technology-in-education/index.html




    1. Hi Yusra,

      Thank you for reading!

      Digital visitors (http://journals.uic.edu/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/3171/3049) can be an example of users who use the Internet more at work. In our world today, it is rare to find jobs that do not use technology. Going online is inevitable, meaning individuals will have exposure to digital content at work. However, they have a choice to go online in their free time.

      Digital differences can have a positive impact, as it makes us reflect on our daily activities, both online and offline. In some ways, it can motivate us to use technology.

      The article was an interesting read. I believe that providing technology to students reduces digital differences. However, as it specifically focuses on the US, do you think the net neutrality repeal will affect this (https://www.raconteur.net/technology/repeal-net-neutrality-raises-fears-worldwide)?



      1. Hi Chloe,

        That article about the US repeal of net neutrality is extremely eye opening, and I do now think that the US may need to improve their digital strategies. I think achieving net neutrality is very hard but it is really important to help try and diminish the digital gap everywhere

        Thanks for responding!


  2. A great breakdown of what factors contribute to digital differences, thanks Chloe! Your infographic is a really interesting personal account, too. It’s good to hear that your arthritis is not affecting your digital usage as much as it has done previously. With mobile growth in particular huge for getting new communities online (https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Documents/facts/ICTFactsFigures2017.pdf), what do you think technology makers are doing well/should do to cater better for users of differing physical ability?

    What do you think it is about services such as WhatsApp and WeChat that make them appeal to the British and Chinese audiences respectively? This week we heard the story (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/28/world/asia/china-censorship-xi-jinping.html) of China’s web restrictions – which you mentioned as an example macro factor – going as far as censoring the letter N. How much does action like this have an effect on the digital literacy of the average citizen?


    1. Hi Xavier,

      Thanks for reading!

      The Google Digital Garage (https://learndigital.withgoogle.com/digitalgarage) provides online courses and guidance. I think this can reduce digital differences, and provides users of all abilities an opportunity to learn digitally. Many companies are providing online training, which is a good incentive for completion.

      With WeChat, it’s multi-purpose platform provides services such as banking and gaming. With WhatsApp, it can be accessed on all devices, free of use. However, new functionality is introduced, such as payments (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/whatsapp-payments-money-transfers-users-accounts-friends-app-a8200546.html). Do you think this will introduce further digital differences?

      With the restrictions, I believe literacy will be affected. Cryptocurrency is a popular topic that we are still trying to understand. No exposure (http://www.scmp.com/news/china/economy/article/2122691/beijings-bitcoin-ban-helped-china-dodge-scary-cryptocurrency) surely means vulnerability to knowledge, and technical skills? What do you think?



      1. That’s a very good question! Messaging apps seem to be evolving more into all-encompassing platforms by the day – a far cry from the traditions of SMS – but, as they seem to retain a simple core functionality beneath the added complexity, it is tempting to call this a win for new users and eradicating differences. Yet, this sort of ubiquity poses many more issues – I found this read on WeChat and its government links fascinating.


        It all seems to come back to the same points: the Web is opening and creating scores of new opportunities for anyone to access and potentially benefit, however significant obstacles remain in getting everyone to the sufficient level of technological access and skill. With a digital future today’s reality, how do we avoid leaving communities behind?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The article was an interesting read. It is strange to see that a mobile application could be used to determine one’s identity, and used for legitimate documentation purposes. However, I do not think it is realistic to replace physical ID with virtual ID. How will this cater for all residents in China? Surely this is will always remain an issue, as a group of users do not want digital access?

        In response to your question, it is inevitable that we leave communities behind. Even though digital differences are catered for many activities and devices, not everyone choose the digital lifestyle. We cannot force digital usage upon them. We can only educate them to understand the wider benefits of the Web.



  3. Pingback: Reflection: Topic 1 – Yusra Huque-Dowlet

  4. Pingback: UOSM2008: Topic 1 reflection – Xavier Voigt-Hill

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