Our second debate, very similar to the first, was extremely well done. Props go out to the group members on both sides. It was extremely interesting to see our pre-and post-vote results and how they shifted. One of the keys to this debate is the understanding of equity. Many have likely seen the famous image of the students behind the fence, displaying difference between equality and equity. I like to take this one step further using this image explaining Justice Oriented Citizens.
Technology Increases Equity: To a Certain Degree
Technology has the ability to increase equity in multiple aspects. Access to information has become one of the main proponents of this equity. Students and teachers all over the world have the ability to tap into the collective information from nearly all of recorded history. Being able to access this information allows for globalization, and truer discourse.
Additionally, technology has broken many barriers, particularly to individuals with disabilities. As one of our suggested viewings for this week, Tracy, Nicole and Stephen shared the following video. Kymberly DeLoatche shares touching stories about technology and the effect it can have on individuals, families and companies. If you haven’t watched it, I highly encourage it. It is one thing for me to tell you how important technology has been to to those with disabilities, but I would argue that it’s more impactful to hear it directly from someone affected.
One of the other large arguments for technology allowing education to become more equitable revolves around access becoming worldwide. Within one of the suggested readings the group shared with us, Matt Jenner from Education Technology writes:
“If you look at the growing access to education across the past few decades the numbers speak for themselves. In 2007, 57 countries were providing over 10 years of formal education to people; by 2017, it grew to 173 countries. The same goes for those who provide under five years of formal education, which, in 2017, 47 countries were unable to deliver. However, by 2017, this number shrank to just 32 countries”Source
The Usual Problem: Funding
Although I mentioned that technology has the ability to increase equity, the problem lies in the affordability of technology. While technology has the potential to connect people all over the world, allowing them to gain information that may not be local to their location, it only does so for those that can afford it. When there are individuals that cannot afford, or do not have the privilege to accessing technology, society runs a risk of creating a deeper ‘digital divide’, as Christina, Amaya, and Matt discussed during their debate session. This divide truly was exasperated during the pandemic, and affected both students in school and adults that were forced to work online from home or risk losing their job. The divide becomes more severe in chronically underserved areas of our country. Many Indigenous communities and rural areas have greatly reduced access to high speed internet connections. This has dire effects on their job markets, and economies, while also affecting their social-wellbeing as they compete and compare themselves with individuals in more connected areas of the country.
To summarize, technology has the potential to increase equity across society, but we must ensure financial constraints do not become a barrier to building this equity. Never in any pervious point of our history has the world’s population had access to this much information, and tools that can truly make lives better. It is up to all of us to (as the first image states,) fix the system to offer equal access to tools and opportunities.