As technology and social media have become essential to communication and collaboration among workers, Topic 3 provides scenarios that ask students to explore barriers that can occur when not all workers understand or feel comfortable using technology an social media. The rapid changes that occur with technology require HRWD professionals to remain diligent in their commitment to understanding both the effect and use of technology on people.
Scenario 1: Age Discrimination and Technology
The average age of employees in your division of the organization is 50. These employees have had limited use of any kind of technology or social media both at home and in the workplace. You are located in a rural community that has limited access to consistent, Internet service. You have designed training for them that includes examples about negative social media usage. As the training progresses, participants begin informing you that they have never used a computer outside of the workplace. They do not own a home computer and their telephone is not a smartphone; it is a flip phone. Despite holding this training in the computer lab, employees are having trouble accessing the Internet. They have never heard of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Netflix, Hulu, or the myriad other social media platforms. They absolutely do not know what an emoji is.
- How do you engage these participants without mentioning their age?
- How do you change the session focus without offending participants?
Scenario 2: Social Class and the Digital Divide
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many employees to work from home. Across the world employees had little time to adjust. There has always been a digital divide between rural communities and urban areas regarding access to broadband Internet services. There is also a digital divide based on socio-economic status. Black families have the least access to broadband both in rural and urban communities. As human resource development and workforce development professionals seek to help workers facing the digital divide, they encounter many barriers. The majority of the activities require that they also work from home, so they do not have the resources to all of the technologies that they need either. Their Internet speed in many homes are slower than in the workplace and workers cannot apply for new jobs. Most of the required forms are no longer available in paper copies; therefore, more time is spent on the telephone to try and assist workers as opposed to virtual computing.
- How will workplaces sustain the careers of workers whose only limitation is access to broadband Internet?
- How do HRWD professionals adjust their ability to use technology from home to meet the needs of workers?
- What can be done to bridge the digital divide in Black communities?
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