Technology is a force for equity!

What a statement! One that I find hard to disagree with. Our debate on Tuesday night helped shed some light on the reasons as to why the use of technology may also be inequitable.

To start though, here is where the edtech 400 class stood on the matter:

Again, I found myself surprised by the result. I always seem to have the unpopular opinion!

This weeks debaters were Ryan and Kaytlyn. Ryan, being the first to speak and the one agreeing with the statement, provided the following arguments:

  1. Technology is spreading throughout the world and there are movements to put technology into the hands of students who are not privileged enough to access it by their own means. What was found is that the students used their technology as a learning resource and it was supplemental when it came to their learning outside of school, effectively giving them the freedom to learn 24 hours a day, not just 6.
  2. The same article mentions the potential for mobile devices to be a huge motivational factor when it comes to developing literacy skills in students. It’s explained that the spontaneity and rapid nature of text messaging is “the single most important factor in increasing literacy on the planet. Why? Every child is massively motivated to learn to text, post and message on mobiles. The evidence shows that they become obsessive readers and writers through mobile devices.”
  3. Technology can be a great force for equity for people with disabilities. The multitude of software that exists and is being developed can, and does, help people in just the ways that they need. The use of technology helps ‘bridge the gap’ and allows for advancement of curricula that is “born accessible” “rather than born for paper delivery.” One big example that Ryan used was the story of Stephen Hawking and the technology that was developed so that he could speak, despite battling ALS throughout much of his life.

All of these points are very powerful and make a great case for equity in society. Though, Kaytlyn had an equally convincing rebuttal. Here is what she had to say:

  1. Students without internet access at home are at a huge disadvantage because their learning starts and ends during schools hours. To double that up, the students who do have internet access at home are free to continue their studies anytime they want which creates a huge divide among them and their peers.
  2. There is a certain amount of money that needs to be spent in order to have your child be on a level playing field with their peers. Who’s to say that every family can afford to send their child to school with a cellphone, Ipad, laptop, etc? If some form of handheld technology in the classroom is an unspoken requirement, the students who come from families of lower economic status are at a major disadvantage in that regard.
  3. This article introduces the idea of the ‘cargo cult‘ in which nations are brought goods from a modern society to help their underdeveloped nation. It also touches on the idea of technological colonialism and the thought that technology is what will raise society to our level. Perhaps the western ideology as it relates to technology is not the end all be all?

Amazing arguments by both parties! This was one of those debates where I’m more on the fence than I’m comfortable with. There are so many different aspects of the argument and it can’t be looked at as black and white.

Here is where the class stood at the end:

Not much of a surprise here. I think that this was another example of having good arguments for one side that can easily have holes poked in it. Not to take anything away from the debaters! You both did great!

Finally, here are my thoughts on the topic:

I can understand and appreciate that the money that needs to be invested in order for a student to own or have access to technology is expensive at best. It’s for this reason that I believe that technology should never be the base for learning, it should always be supplemental. Thinking as a teacher, I believe that students should have options and different routes for learning. If option A works for you, great. If option B works for you, great. And if option W works for you, great. This is why having multiple different resources in, around, and outside the classroom is so important. There needs to be multiple forms of instruction and learning, whether through experience, textbook, conversation, and yes technology. Meaning, technology is one of many routes a student can take and should not be dramatically overemphasized.

Furthermore, speaking in more of a societal ideology, I think it is an interesting thought that, with the access to a device and the internet, anyone can learn from the greatest minds in history. For example, I can go on to YouTube and listen to America’s greatest speeches, or I can watch a lecture from Harvard on computer science. Additionally, I can use websites like edX to take university level courses and even be recognized with a certificate for the completion of said course. The possibilities are truly endless here and the access to vast amounts of knowledge, more than anyone could ever fully comprehend, is at your fingertips. This is exciting to me! This is equity to me! And I know, the device and internet access cost money, but it costs far less than actually going to Harvard University. And yes, it is not perfect, and those who can actually go to Harvard and graduate will be in a much better position than those accessing free classes online. But what I’m saying is that at least people have the opportunity to learn to their heart’s desire.

With just a device and internet access you can learn anything that you want.

Thanks for reading,

Cody

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Technology is a force for equity!

  1. Hey Cody!
    I think you have done a wonderful job outlining the key points made by the debaters. While I voted that technology is NOT a force for equity, I still think that there were great points made by both debaters. I do like how you mentioned how when students are given technology they can gain so much access to things they otherwise would not be able to access. I also liked although you supported the side of technology being a force of equity, you still mentioned how it’s not perfect, which was the main message I honed in on. We can’t rely on technology to solve all the world’s problems, but to overlook the power and opportunities it does provide seems irresponsible!
    You defend your stance very well!
    Lauren

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  2. Equity requires access and for many students especially those in lower SES or who happen to be ELL or disabled coupled with low SES the technology is a privilege that may not be part of the financial budget of the family which can then create emotional issues for the students. They are for example teased or bullied for not having the latest and greatest of one more thing. For the disabled especially those with intellectual disabilities training must be done which requires someone to do the training and to dedicate time to recursive practice in many cases. It also can potentially mean a safety issue because when or if they do become more independent if they are more focused on the technology and not on their environment they are vulnerable.

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  3. Hi Cody, great work summarizing both sides of the debate, our class’s discussion, and adding your own opinions on the topic. Your final paragraph explaining how through the use of digital devices and the internet, everyone has access to learn from the greatest minds in history speaks volumes. Yes, technology may not be the solution to all of our society’s equity issues but it is hard to deny the potential in technology to provide equitable opportunities and change the lives of many individuals for the better.

    Like

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