Okay let’s be honest, Stephen, Nicole and I were hoping to argue the disagree side of “Technology has created a more equitable society” but apparently our internet speed was lacking, as it had already been scooped up by Christina, Amaya, and Matthew. In hindsight, arguing the agree side turned out to be a great learning opportunity.
As an Learning Resource Teacher I truly have seen assistive technology create more equitable opportunities/education for students. One of my roles as a LRT is trialing assistive technology, completing SETT applications (ordering equipment) and helping teachers implement AT. Being an LRT for 15 years I have witnessed many AT successes. I have also seen a major shift in the students who are able to access education in mainstream classes and I would say advancements in technology have played a major role. Kymberly Deloatche’s Ted Talk How Technology has Leveled the Playing Field in the Workplace also provides real life examples of how AT/Technology has been a difference maker for many individuals & families. While my experiences with AT may be the norm at a local level, I know that access to assistive technology is not universal.
The Digital Divide
We knew the digital divide would be addressed in the argument for the disagree team and we couldn’t argue that it doesn’t exist. We did however argue that technology isn’t solely to blame for achievement gaps. It was interesting to read that achievement gaps existed long before technology and that technology is one of sixty two variables that contributes to educational equity.
As our classmates discussed during the debate discussions, we had extremely different online learning experiences even within the same city. During the first two years of the pandemic I worked at a Regina Public School where families had access to internet and devices. 95% of our families opted into optional learning and our daily attendance was comparable to our usual attendance. This was not the case across the city. Many of my colleagues across the city were printing workbooks and dropping off packages as families did not have access to technology and/or access to the internet. The pandemic certainly shone a light on the digital divide and the consequences it has created.
While the digital divide was tough to argue we did find a lot of research on how technology has improved and increased access to education globally. Technology has allowed many of us the opportunity to further our education, with students taking classes from all over the world. Literacy rates have also drastically improved across the globe. In addition technology has allowed for increased communication, collaboration, and updated resources.
I do think with improved access (devices/internet/education/training) technology does have the potential to create more equality. Now that there is more awareness of the digital divide, hopefully we start to see changes to bridge the gap.