This week in the series that is Great Ed Tech Debates, Robbi and Doug discussed whether or not technology is a force for equity in society. Both sides did a great job presenting their points and I went into this thinking I was going to still agree even after the debate. However, both sides brought up some good points that really got me thinking.
Personally, I feel that technology is a really cool thing. We can do a lot of things that were once not even considered to be possible. In schools, technology allows students access to opportunities that would not otherwise be available. Smaller schools, such as the one I am currently working at, do not always have the man power to offer every class so students have take them online and this was a point that Robbi made in her debate. For example, my school was unable to offer Workplace Math past grade ten this year. So for the students who needed to take Workplace 20 or 30 their only option was to take it online through the affiliated online school.Now a counter-point to this is that what do students do if they do not have access to a computer at home. I mean some would say it isnot fair to the ones who do not have a computer at home because they are not able to work on their math at home. However just like any other class, online courses are built into their schedule (at least at my school). So while their peers are in Foundations or Pre-Calculus math, these students would be in the computer lab working on their online math. The students also have access to the printer so they can print their assignments and notes to take home as another option. Coming from a smaller school, not every class can always be offered due to lack of student interest in the course, not enough staff just to name a couple reasons. So the opportunities that these students can get from online school, give them the chance to take the same classes as those who live in a larger centre and have access to these classes. Like it says in this article that Robbi shared, technology is allowing students to work at their own pace, pursue their own interests and passions and provides them access to more information.
However, with everything there is side that does not agree and Doug is good job presenting that. He shared an interesting article that presents the idea that technology isn’t levelling the playing field but it is actually un-leveling it. They are not talking about the digital divide – a lack of access to technology for poor and minority children. Instead it was observed that when given access to technology affluent and poor kids used technology. This is an interesting thought. I think when people think of technology being an equitable force they think of the digital divide and not so much as to how kids are using the technology. He also shared this article on how a lack of access to rural broadband is creating a divid among Canadians. Both of these articles provide an interesting view on how technology in our society may not be as fair as we think.
So in the end, I walked away from this debate still thinking that technology is a force for equity in society but I definitely came away with some new ideas to think about courtesy of Doug.