Education, Technology, Equity

Wow! What a debate. I feel like this debate more than others has many, many layers to it. This weeks debate topic Technology is a force for equity in society really challenged me to think about this question from many different angles and although I right now will say that I agree that technology is a force for equity, I am not 100% convinced that I couldn’t be persuaded the opposite direction still.

Both teams agree and team disagree did a great job of presenting their points. Both teams proposed strong arguments and there was not many overlays or middle ground in their debate positions and arguments this week like we found in other weeks. For the sake of my arguments, I am going to look at technology and equity when it comes to education and the roles of education in finding equity for our students among technology.

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Team agree shares the idea of the digital divide and how technology actually has the ability to build a bridge over that divide. I agree with team agree in how they state that technology isn’t pushing people apart but yet it can assist in bringing people together. Team agree does a great job of sharing how technology is a driving force that allows students to move from the cannot side of the spectrum over to the can side of the spectrum. Technology and assistive technology does, in fact, have the ability to help students become more independent and it can help them to accomplish tasks that they may not have been able to accomplish before. I have witnessed this first hand in my classroom in how powerful technology can be in helping students complete grade level tasks that without assistive technology they would not have been able to accomplish. This evens out the playing field for these struggling students and allows them to also reach and feel success within the classroom. This is powerful!

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Team agree also shared the Ted talk video What We Are Learning From Online Education that features Daphne Koller who shares how college education used to at one point in time only be for the privileged. Daphne shares how she is the co-founder of Coursera and that with the use of technology they were successfully able to break down the barriers of traditional education and are now able to ‘take the best courses from the best universities and provide them to everyone around the world for free’. She goes on to share how there are now 640 000 students from 190 countries being educated on Coursera. This development in education with the use of technology has transformed inequality in post-secondary education. It provides people who may not have been able to before, an opportunity to be educated at the highest level possible. Resources like this allow for everyone to have access to post-secondary education and no longer is this level of education just for the privileged it is now for the willing to learn. This also is powerful!

Similar to the above video team agree also shared the article How OER Is Boosting School Performance and Equity From the Suburbs to the Arctic. This article outlines the power of Open Education Resources and how this greatly benefits student learning. The Open Education Movement allows isolated communities to have access to top-notch resources that are online and free for everyone to use. It allows classrooms to learn from the most updated resources and allows teachers the ability to meet the needs of their diverse learners. The article shares how divisions are using OER to address the many complexities of today’s education. The article shares how OER has the ability to:

help students learn with the most up-to-date materials, allowing teachers to do more with limited time, and adapting resources to meet the needs of diverse learners at varied levels, some whose first language is not English—all in the face of budget cuts.

OER is extremely powerful in helping reach the goal of equality in education. Prior to OPen Educationthis, isolated communities were being faced with tough budget cuts and unfortunately, the quality of education dwindles when budgets get cut. With OER this allows these communities to improve education for their students by having access to these top quality resources online. This allows all children access to the greatest level of educational resources that possibly their division could not afford to update themselves. I feel that OER most definitely works towards equality in education and it aids in preparing all students for success in their future.

With OER, districts can adapt content to meet their local needs, maximize education budgets, and ensure access to resources and educational rigor. By being able to serve all students — whatever their race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, family background, or family income — OER supports the goal of educational equity.

– How OER Is Boosting School Performance and Equity From the Suburbs to the Arctic

One discussion that hit the chat room hot from Monday’s debate was the inequality of technology between the ‘rich and poor’. Many of us could relate to this and we as teachers were able to relate to being able to see this in our local schools. This was also brought up in team disagrees introduction video. Within this video team disagree shared that ‘lower income people do not have access to resources or opportunities that are offered by technology’. This is one inequality that I feel is very unfair, the fact that people based on their socioeconomic status will or will not have regular access to technology and the internet. Many will argue that the internet should and could be considered be a basic human right and that currently there is a divide in society between the rich and the poor and the access to the internet. In the article Has The Internet Become a Basic Human Right Pavel Marceux shares that several countries are declaring internet access as a basic human right. The article states that,

Internet advocates believe that the web can significantly improve standards of living, especially as key segments such as health and education are increasingly becoming accessible online.

Although ideally, the internet would be a basic human right we are well aware that currently, this is not the case. We can see this within our own community and also within our own classrooms. In our schools, we see families who do not have access to the internet and how that can impact their lives and their education. This is where I Image result for basic human rights internetfeel that school boards have a role to fulfill and they need to do a better job of increasing the access within our classrooms and within our schools. While students are in the education system they ideally should have daily access to technology which would allow for them to learn and build the skills that they need to be successful in the 21st century. As teachers, we need to ensure that we are incorporating as much technology and access for our students into our teaching to ensure that we are giving them full opportunities to build and practice their skills. Once again education is a key factor in helping to create equality within this digital divide.

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I feel that this debate, as I mentioned above in my post has many layers to it. I chose to focus my discussions mainly on the education system. I feel that as teachers we can participate in the OER movement by sharing our resources online to help others who may not have access to what we do while we are teaching where we do. Although this debate feels very large in scale and debate most definitely is a global topic for debate there are still little things that we as teachers can do to help in building equality. Get online and share resources, give others access to what you are doing within your classroom. This may just help someone!

 

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About cdegelman

Grade 3/4 teacher at Douglas Park School in Regina, Saskatchewan
This entry was posted in EC&I 830. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Education, Technology, Equity

  1. Jen Resch says:

    Hi Channing!
    What a great post! I agree with you that this topic is multi-faceted and has so many different layers. When I initially started preparing for my debate I thought that it would be incredibly difficult to argue that technology was a force for equity in society. I agree that it certainly does narrow the playing field and allow more opportunities for those who have access, however we need to remember that not everyone has access! Just like you said in your post. I believe, as advocates, we need to encourage all schools to have a balance of technology and provide students opportunities and training to ensure they have the same educational opportunities as the next child. I believe as long as the corporate industry continues to control the price of technology we will continue to see this divide. I sure hope we see the switch in mentality in our lifetime!

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    • kylaortman says:

      I also talked about Daphne Koller – she has a powerful message that has transformed education and the inequalities we have witnessed. This creates the mindset that education is accessible and equal for everyone! I also like that you highlighted The Open Education Movement allows isolated communities to have access to top-notch resources that are online and free for everyone to use. I often do not think about accessibility in regards to geographical location or access. Sometimes being at the school I am, where accessibility is never a problem, you forget what it is like for many others. This reminded me that technology can be such a strong force for those who not have access to view certain things based on where they live. For example: I take my class to the Badlands every year throughout Outdoor Ed team at the board office. Without seeing things in person, technology can bridge the gap and give us insight when we are not able to witness things with our own eyes. It also peaks interest for students which may make them search and locate more information about the Badlands once we return from our trip.

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  2. Nicole Reeve says:

    I think you really nailed it when you said that this debate had many layers. Not sure how many times I felt myself wavering from one side to the other. Your comment about sharing resources is something I think is really important. No longer do we need to have boxes upon boxes of resources and it really can take a matter of minutes to share something with another teacher and if that can help our students and ease our teaching load just a little, who wouldn’t want to? Just another example of perhaps why technology can provide equity in education.

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    • I agree! There are so many layers involved but as educators we can focus on small things we can do on a daily basis to make an impact. It still always amazes me how many resources I can hold on one little USB and how easy it is to share these resources with colleagues and students.

      It can sometimes feel like we are fighting a losing battle in the education system but this year I was super happy with the Regina Public School Division in regards to access to technology for our struggling learners. In years previous, I could not apply for assistive technology for a student unless they had a psychological assessment completed and a diagnosis of a learning disability to follow. This was changed this year and I was able to apply for assistive technology for various students who did not fit this criteria, an awesome change made by the division!

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  3. All said and done, I must say that I am still wavering in my opinion yet again. I feel like you are most comfortable with tech than myself so I think it is my uncertainty in my own use of tech that leaves me unsure of the positive impacts of tech. It is certainly refreshing to see your perspective and I love your statement “I feel that school boards have a role to fulfill and they need to do a better job of increasing the access within our classrooms and within our schools”. We can probably all agree that the government needs to invest more into our schools and students! The long-term payoff is astronomical.

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  4. Excellent post-Channing and I completely agree with you when you state “I feel that as teachers we can participate in the OER movement by sharing our resources online to help others who may not have access to what we do while we are teaching where we do” Web-based platforms have allowed us to remotely replace or facilitate many interactive processes such as purchases, booking appointments, and banking activities, buying flight tickets etc. Getting an education online is the next frontier for web-based convenience, Open Educational Resources (OER) provide a strategic opportunity to improve the quality of education as well as facilitate policy dialogue, knowledge sharing, and capacity building and as educators, we have to participate in this movement and reach even the unreachable students. Great thoughts and thanks for sharing

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