When it comes to this topic, I find myself jumping back and forth from side to side. First off, l lived in a small town where we had very bad internet. It sucked, but we didn’t use technology in schools as much as we do now, so I didn’t have to worry about missing any major assignments. Also, being in a very small school (I’m talking 80 students from K-12), we didn’t get the chance to take many classes. I remember that first long-distance class I took in high school for chemistry. It was tricky, but I’m thankful for technology that I could take it.
When it comes to the statement: ” Technology has led to a more equitable society”, there’s a lot to analyze globally, to gender, age, access, disability, and race. We also need to talk about the type of technology and how it is used.
Equality vs. Equity
This topic was brought up during the debate so I wanted to talk about it very briefly.
- Equality is the same status, rights, and responsibilities for all the members of a society, group, or family.
- Equity is the quality of being fair and reasonable in a way that gives equal treatment to everyone.
Since this debate was about technology leading to a more equitable society, it’s important to note the difference.
Equity for those with disabilities:
In the article by BeneTech, they explain that in The United States of America: “just over one in four of today’s twenty year-olds will become disabled before reaching retirement age”. Just because someone has a disability does not mean they cannot achieve, work and belong in our society as well. We are living in a world full of technology that can help so many people be a bit more free. Technology has led to wheelchairs, hearing aids, and assistive software on computers and phones which has allowed for a more inclusive society.
Equity in Education
As teachers, we all want our students to succeed. We also all know the difference in various skills there are in one classroom. It’s our responsibility to make sure our students have the best education we can give them. Having tools like assistive reading and writing software allows students independence to work by themselves. It has also helped many kids with disabilities attend school which is an important part of their development. Ed Technology explains: One of Unicef’s missions is to ensure every child has access to education to ensure they can survive, develop potential, improve the quality of their lives, make informed decisions and continue learning”.
Access to education:
Like I explained earlier, I grew up in a rural area with not as many opportunities for classes you would be able to take in a city. Due to technology, I had more opportunities for classes that would help me later on in my life. Now, this doesn’t even come close to what some kids deal with every day. Some children don’t have access to any type of schooling while some get the bare minimum. With technology, kids all around the world can receive a better and more rounded education. Now, not all countries have the resources or internet connection to be able to use technology. John Ward explains in his article in Forbes that there are many organizations like Vodafone that were created to make technology more accessible so that better education can be possible in many countries.
Access to resources:
We can’t forget about resources! Technology has allowed for teachers and students all over the world to have access to resources such as articles, books, and videos that they would not have been able to have. Teaching in French Immersion, I would not have made it this far with the resources I have available to me in my school division ( there is no social studies textbook in French). Sites like TeachersPayTeachers and being able to share with other teachers online has allowed me to teach my students a lot better. We also need to think about those in rural areas or countries with minimal libraries who can teach and do their homework due to resources found online.
The statement Stephen said in their group video about how technology is not widening the achievement gap made me stay slightly on the agree side of this debate. Before technology, there was already a gap due to reasons like income, home life, or where they live. Many reasons can be attributed to the achievement gap.
The greatest reason why technology is not leading to an equitable society can pretty much fit under one umbrella: The Digital Divide.
The Digital Divide
The digital divide or digital gap “encompasses the technical and financial ability to utilize available technology, along with access (or a lack of access) to the internet”. Racial, gender, disability, and age gaps can become even wider due to technology, the access people have, and how it is used. Most recently, this gap was seen during remote learning when some students did not have access to the technology they needed to keep up with their education. This could have been due to the lack of devices at home, access to the internet, or the help they needed at home to do their schoolwork.
The disagree team recommended this great article about the Digital Divide. Check it out if you haven’t yet!
Even though Stephen had a great point about how there were already gaps in student achievement, we still need to think about how technology can make it worse ( which we definitely don’t want!) As technology becomes more common, those without access at home will be unable to catch up with peers on homework, world news, and general life skills if resources are only digital. In the article by Annie Murphy Paul, they say: “a growing body of evidence indicates that in many cases, tech is actually having the opposite effect: it is increasing the gap between rich and poor, between whites and minorities, and between the school-ready and the less-prepared“.
Access to Material
Since technology is limited to those with access to devices or the internet, it can be difficult for those to access material. In 2022, a lot of material is only found online (ex: articles, books, videos). This means that those without a computer are limited to their libraries.
Access to Devices
This is a very big reason that technology does not lead to a more equitable society. Computers and phones can be very expensive, as well as the internet. Nowadays, so much is digital! We have to think about the generation gap and how many people did not grow up with technology. They would still much prefer things to be done on paper.
Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy
We can’t forget about the use of technology. Not everyone has someone who will teach them to use technology properly. When this happens, they won’t be able to keep up. However, those who are taught digital citizenship and media literacy will know how to act online and use the tools correctly that are on their devices. This can cause a big gap when it comes to access, age, race, disability, and regions.
Both sides of this debate had me swaying from one side to the other. However, in the end, I agree that technology has led to a more equitable society. When I think about how it has given those with disabilities that opportunity to work and to learn, those in rural areas more opportunities, and has led to more access to education and resources, I can only hope that technology keeps moving in the right direction. However, we can’t pretend that there isn’t a digital divide. There is definitely one that causes minorities to have less access, and fewer opportunities to climb up when they cannot stop falling behind to due these gaps. I am hopeful that in the future, the gap will lessen and technology can lead to even more of an equitable society.
Thanks for reading!