Development of a Survey Based Tool to Measure Digital Literacy for Arabic Internet Users: A New Model of Assessment

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description

The Emirate of Qatar has embarked on an ambitious program to make the resources of
modern information technology available to citizens and residents of the country. ictQATAR,
the governmental entity charged with developing ICT in the country, includes among its goals
to “universalize access to social services and to create a knowledge-based online society.”i
The desire to use ICT to make information easily available to the entire society is a noble one.
However, for this strategy to succeed, it is not sufficient simply to put information on the
World Wide Web and make Internet connectivity available to all. Research carried out in the
US demonstrates that access by itself does not necessarily eliminate the digital divide; rather,
users must have a reasonably high level of digital literacy to find and make good use of the
resources potentially available. To understand what kinds of deficits Internet users may have
and to design programs to eliminate them, it is necessary to develop a tool to measure digital
literacy. Such tools exist for English-language Web users, and have allowed for the creation
of interventions designed to overcome digital divides. For Arabic Web users, however, no
such tool is available. Accordingly the main goal of this study is to create a tool that will
allow for an assessment of Internet digital literacy among Arabic-language Web users in
Qatar. This in turn will allow policy makers to design whatever interventions might be
necessary to ensure that Qatari citizens and residents can take full advantage of the resources
that they are offered. We plan to sample Arabic speaking users of the Internet who regularly
conduct searches in Arabic. We will observe their Web searching strategies on assigned tasks
and ask them to complete a survey that measures their knowledge of the Internet. We will
correlate their responses to the knowledge-based items with their ability to successfully
complete the Web searching tasks and their efficiency in doing so. This will result in what to
our knowledge will be the first, reliable tool for measuring the digital literacy levels of Arabic
speaking Web users.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date9/4/139/3/14

Funding

  • Qatar National Research Fund (UREP 14-126-5-031)

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