Equity or Divide?

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. 

Assistive Technology

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.

“We know the pandemic has had highly uneven consequences for Black Canadians, Indigenous people and people of colour, as well as for unhoused people, precariously employed, rural and otherwise marginalized people. And the costs of being on the wrong side of the digital divide are disproportionately borne by these same communities.”

Weeden & Kelly “The Digital Divide Has Become a Chasm: Here’s How We Bridge the Gap”
World Education Rates

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.

Tracy

3 thoughts on “Equity or Divide?

  1. My wife was in one of those schools sending out work booklets and saw that digital divide you were referring to. During the second year of the pandemic when online schooling was mandatory and not optional, her attendance shot up. Her school provided devices and they seemed lucky enough not to lose devices, as mentioned in the class discussion.

    While I do think it is important to combat the lack of access I feel it is also important to expose our students to these devices and how to use them properly. When they leave school, they will be interacting with them to some extent and having at least a working knowledge will prove valuable. I do feel that we need to scaffold technology with other methods to ensure students who are limited with tech at home are not bowled over by students who use technology daily.

    In my class I offer the option for students to hand write or type their assignments. The struggle I work through is that I know those who can type their work have proof reading software, ready access to information online, etc., and those that don’t have to rely on their own knowledge and abilities. It is not an even playing field. Those without sometimes need to be twice as good.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s so funny that you said this! Our group too wanted to be on the disagree side of things, but only part of our group was able to get on, so we decided on a different topic so that we could stay together. After the debate, I was glad that maybe we chose a different prompt, because it seemed like a lot of people were on one side of the fence or the other (that means that it’s a great debate topic). I am also glad that we weren’t first, as I appreciated being able to see how things worked. I think that your group did a great job, especially for really wanting to be on the other side of the debate. There were many times where your group brought up a point that wanted to make me sway to the other side, however, unfortunately I just couldn’t do it. Also our group discussed how your questions, rebuttals, and statements were all so planned out and well executed. So great job being such a great example for us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kelly! I thought it would be harder to debate a topic I don’t agree with but after we dug into the research I found myself agreeing with a lot of ways technology has created improvements (potential for equity). It was hard during the debate though not to agree with some of the comments from the agree team.

      Like

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