Have you ever been told that life’s just not fair? I remember complaining about things as a kid to have my mom tell me that sometimes life isn’t fair. I would love to believe that we could someday live in a world that is fair, but what does fair mean? Does fair mean equal? I don’t believe that fair means equal. As many of my classmates have pointed out, equal means that things are the same. Danielle compares equity and equality by providing some webster’s definitions and this would further my point that for something to be fair it doesn’t mean that things should be or are equal. Equity on the other hand can provide fairness by levelling the playing field for each individual by giving them the support they need to meet their goals. Kyle shared a great picture that depicts the difference between equality and equity. So now that we have taken a minute to discuss the difference between equity and equality, we must think about the role technology plays in this. Is technology a force for equity in society?
If equality means giving everyone the same resources, equity means giving each student access to the resources they need to learn and thrive. – Shane Safir
I want to focus on technology in the classroom before looking at the greater society. Simply throwing laptops or iPads at students and expecting it to have some sort of huge impact on their learning isn’t realistic. As Kelsey states, technology is a tool. Students still need to know how to find information and use the computers properly. If they need to write an essay or a paper, the computer won’t do it for them. They still need to know how to form proper sentences and create a paragraph that makes sense. In order for them to do this, they need to be given other resources such as reading and writing support. Students cannot be given a calculator and expect that they will suddenly understand math. Sure they might be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide using a calculator just like everyone else can, but take away that tool and suddenly we are back to a unequal playing field. Tyler discusses assistive technology and how it can help students with disabilities by creating a more equal playing field. I totally agree with this, but just like he said, we have to remember that not everyone has access to these tools. We must also consider the time and money that has to go into implementing this tools and putting them to use. Not everyone has the money to be able to make use of the tools.
A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that students who used computers more than others actually had poorer scores. They also found that using computers increases the socio-economic divide that already exists in society.
The OECD’s education director Andreas Schleicher says school technology had raised “too many false hopes”.
I would have to agree that we need to focus on reading and math skills as a way of closing the gap as opposed to assuming that more access to technology will give us results. Sure technology can help. But we cannot think that technology is the only answer. There are amazing apps and websites that can help students learn, but we need to make sure that we are focusing on the fundamentals and making sure that technology is used as a way to enhance learning as opposed to technology being used to be the teacher. If we are looking for ways to crete equity in our classroom without using technology, Shane Safir has some great ideas on edutopia.
In terms of the digital divide in society and the socio-economic gaps, I don’t think that technology will solve all of our problems and create equality. There are far too many issues that technology can’t solve such as poverty, abuse, and mental illness. Can technology help? Absolutely. But it isn’t the driving force that will create equality in our society. We have seen some great ways that technology is helping communities that don’t have access to doctor’s 24/7. I think it’s great that we are trying to bridge the gap and make use of technology when we can. There are certain situations in which we can close the gap, but we will have to look beyond technology for the most part when looking to create equality in society.
I feel as though I sounded like I am totally against technology and don’t think it has any value but that really isn’t the case. I do think there are situations that technology can be used to bridge the gap. I don’t think it is the solution to all of our problems though. I also don’t think that throwing computers to students will bridge academic gaps for all. The academic gaps in our classroom stem from issues with basic skills like reading, writing, thinking and problem solving. Technology can assist us in providing support to students who are struggling, but we must work with them. Technology is just a tool. We must work with our students to meet their needs by providing them with resources that will help them thrive. Technology isn’t the only resource.