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June 08, 2004

Community survey reveals "Digital Divide"

At the June meeting of the Gavilan College Board of Trustees on June 8, 2004, Gavilan College staff will present to the board the results of a community survey that revealed a significant "Digital Divide" between Hispanics and non-Hispanics in the college district. The survey also explored community awareness and perceptions of Gavilan College.

The survey, funded by the federal government under a Title V grant, was conducted by Q&A Research of Novato, California. Data were obtained through six focus groups, and six hundred phone interviews in both English and Spanish in the three surrounding communtties that Gavilan College serves - Gilroy, Morgan Hill and Hollister. The focus groups revealed that whereas basic computer skills, such as email, word processing and spreadsheet usage were commonplace among the English-speaking participants, these same skills were lacking among Spanish-speaking attendees. The phone interviews also indicated a Digital Divide: Hispanics were found to be less likely to have computer access and expertise than non-Hispanic respondents. In addition, immigrants were less likely than others to be aware of the accessible and affordable community college system, which is unique to the United States.

According to Terrence Willet, Director of Research for Gavilan College, "this survey affirms what national studies have shown. Even though we are in Silicon Valley, there continues to be a Digital Divide. As an institution which has a student population reflective of the community, this tells us that a portion of our student population may be entering college without the skills -- email usage, databases, digital library use -- that they will be expected to have if they transfer to the university level."

Dr. Margery Regalado, Dean of Enrollment Management said that "the survey results support what we had already ascertained to be critical-- keeping the campus and curriculum up-to-date technologically so that we can continue to provide the training and technology access students need to succeed in higher education and in the workplace." She pointed out that the recently approved bond measure for Gavilan College includes funds that will expand access to technology for district residents through the creation of a Library/Technology center and improved infrastructure.

The survey's results also indicated that, overall, teachers and staff of Gavilan College are perceived favorably, and that most participants said they would recommend Gavilan College to others. While there was a relatively low level of first-hand experience with the college, there was an overall awareness of special programs offered by the college. Respondents indicated that their chief sources of information about Gavilan College were direct mail and word of mouth.

A complete report of the study can be found at http://www.gavilan.edu/research/ under "News and Updates."

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Last modified: August 17, 2011
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