Worlds of Education

“Poor families and digital technologies. The nuances of digital appropriation.”

published 16 July 2021 updated 22 July 2021

During the pandemic, the role of families in children’s education has been emphasised because of school closures and the introduction of distance learning using new technologies. How can digital inclusion in the domestic, at-home sphere be understood in this context?

As part of the series of conferences “Digital culture and education” organized by Education International Latin America (IEAL) and the National Pedagogical University of Argentina (UNIPE), to be held between May and December of this year, Rosalia Winocur gives us a glimpse of her intervention on July 19, 2021.

One of the vital lessons we have learned from the pandemic is that, in the most vulnerable sectors of society, families have been the key nucleus for managing the health crisis, optimising their material resources and social capital as best they can through activating and multiplying solidarity-based networks.

Digital technologies, particularly mobile phones, are playing a vital role in facilitating communication, sharing information and experience, which generate synergies between their face-to-face manifestations (for example, between the organisers of popular demonstrations) and their virtual ones.

This tells us that it may be time to reposition many of the digital inclusion policies currently aimed at different social players (women, children, teenagers, the elderly, immigrants, etc.), and place them in a context of different and complex family dynamics to understand, from a holistic perspective, the limits and possibilities of ensuring these players are digitally included.

This requires:

  1. understanding the domestic, at-home sphere as not only another setting in which different digital devices are used, but rather as a space which is constituted by and which creates different types of age and gender-related power logic existing in unequal social and cultural conditions, which thus greatly shape the limits and possibilities of ICT appropriation.
  2. understanding appropriation processes not only in practical but rather symbolic terms. This requires acknowledging that many synergies and meanings of digital technologies in families happen regardless of whether they are handled on a basic level, expertly or even at all.
  3. creating observation and analysis categories that are more understanding of families’ experience with digital technologies, allowing us to see not only the “visible” signs of whether technologies have been adopted or have been difficult to handle (using the usual indicators) in terms of information, communication, education and entertainment, but also to consider the “invisible” signs. On the one hand, these take into consideration the obstacles preventing people from easily handling devices (most of which are created by literacy protocols themselves). On the other hand, they take into consideration how appropriation and lack of appropriation play a role in: a) processes of resilience in the face of marginalisation, loneliness and gender-based violence; b) discovering alternative ways of being with others; and c) recovering the practice of reading to be informed about topics, situations and problems that are significant in terms of their social realities and ways of life, particularly amongst those who have not completed their primary education.


All the conferences will take place in virtual mode, via videoconference and will be broadcast live on the UNIPE YouTube page.

Members of unions that are affiliated to EI in the region can contact their organization to inquire about registration and participation through the IEAL Zoom platform. Those who register through their union will be eligible for a certificate of participation.

More information is available on the IEAL website: https://bit.ly/3haLsgi

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any official policies or positions of Education International.