I have to examine the definitions here. This is the only logical way I can determine how I feel about the debate.
Equity is fairness or justice in the way people are treated as defined by Merriam-Webster.
Then what is fairness? Merriam-Webster defines it as treating people in a way that does not favor some over others (emphasis added).
Now that the semantics are out of the way, I need to consider Is technology is a force for equity in society?
As stated in Edtech Magazine “If the technology revolution only happens for families that already have money and education, then it’s not really a revolution,” Duncan said at the summit keynote.
This statement has me considering the similarities between technology in education and healthcare systems. The idea of universal healthcare is one reminiscent of a techno – utopianistic society . Everyone is entitled to the service regardless of their SES, age, gender, orientation, etc. These ideals should ensure that each individual has the same access and therefore the same benefits from the ‘service’. Perhaps in a perfect world, this would work, everyone would has surgery/cancer treatment/coding skills as soon as they accessed the ‘service’ – but does does the theory convert to practice that well?
This is not where my comparison ends. In Canada, I fear that we are teetering on the edge of a two-tier healthcare system – not unlike what I believe the U.S has converted to.
I remember once upon a time, in a former career when my ‘boss’ at the time was having a conversation with me about how it should be his right to pay for medical services if he wants to in order to by-pass the wait times. I disagreed with him at the time, but couldn’t articulate why (I promise I will return to this – bear with me).
I believe that the current state of ‘technology dispersal’ (yup, coined that term myself) is mirrored by the two-tiered health care model. Those with lower SES have marginalized access to systems – you can sometimes use computers and the internet at school, at the public library, when you can access free wi-fi in a public space; although you are constantly ‘kept down’, not seen as ‘performing adequately’, or falling behind or becoming ‘less’ than your counter parts.
What I wish I could have articulated to my former employer should have went something like this:
A two-tiered health care system (read: inequality in technology access), would work to implement yet another barrier for those who are currently limited and shunted by systemic inequalities that are rampant in our society. It would ultimately further the divide among the social classes in our society and work to ‘ghettoize’ the other, thereby allowing those with privilege and power (read: white, english speaking, male, able-bodied) yet another opportunity to blame the ‘other’ for their place in society that you have essentially put them into.
Moreover, when reading the Hechinger Report it becomes evident that access to service only accounts for a piece of the puzzle:
Within these very different communities, however, are two places remarkably similar in the resources they provide: the local public libraries. Each has been retooled with banks of new computers, the latest software and speedy Internet access.
The un-leveling impact of technology also has to do with a phenomenon known as the “Matthew Effect”: the tendency for early advantages to multiply over time.
As with books and reading, the most knowledgeable, most experienced, and most supported students are those best positioned to use computers to leap further ahead.
Is this where things like Aski & SeeSaw come in as the ‘technology’ answer to the “Matthew Effect”? If this is a researched, proven phenomenon- why are we not allotting additional resources for our youngest learners?
I, like Jeremy, have seen marked improvements in motivation and academic output from students I work with, when teaching with technology is implemented.
As I reflect upon all of the ideas swirling around in my head the question remains:
Is technology is a force for equity in society?
This week, I think my answer is (shocking) in the grey once again. I think technology can be a force for equity, if it is implemented in a well considered, well thought out way- which includes finding a way to move out of the ‘two-tiered technology system’.