Tech Equity is as Real as it Gets, and There’s No Way Around it… There’s a Road that’s Been Through Hell, and Tech Equity has Been Down It…

Debate #2: Technology has Led to a More Equitable Society
(Week #3: Post #2)

Some Initial Thoughts

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I almost feel a bit pessimistic here lately on the old blog, as again this is a statement that I disagree with. Unlike the other one where if the wording was altered even in the slightest I could see myself changing my mind, however, with this one, I have to say that again I have to disagree with this statement even before the debaters have a chance to argue their sides.

For this debate, we have 6 people total, 3 on each side. For the Hip-Hip-Horray Side (agree with side), we hear from Tracy, Nicole W, and Stephen. On the No Way! Side (disagree side) we hear from Christina, Amaya, and Matt. This is an especially interesting debate for me, as this originally was the statement that I tried to sign up for under the disagree side as I feel quite strongly about it right from the get-go. Before hearing some of my thoughts, I want to summarize some of the main points that each group brought forward.

Hip-Hip-Hooray Debate

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The first group: Tracy, Nicole W, and Stephen presented us with three articles that they used as research for their debate that they shared with the rest of the participants: The Role of Technology in Reimaging School, Increasing Access to Education is Incremental, and How Technology Can Level the Playing Field in the Workplace (a video). You can check out or listen to their opening video here. Besides the main points I address below, the most interesting point I found from this group was that historically flawed practices cannot be blamed on technology. As Nicole W states: “technology is not to blame for the digital divide, but that societal inequities, money, and internet accessibility challenges need to be addressed to allow equal access to technology because it can promote increased personalized learning, effectively reduce disparities in student learning, and improve the overall quality of life.”

Some of the main points that the group addressed were as follows:

  • Access to Education: students in more rural communities have more access to online learning than ever before, from a variety of different providers. Using technologies with face-to-face interactions can substitute classroom learning and keep some of these students in their communities for a longer period of time.
  • Shared Resources: being able to share, purchase, and create resources together has never been easier, and can now be done online instead of trying to work schedules out together. If students are needing more support, teachers can reach out to other colleagues to get advice, resources, and more to help support the learning of their students.
  • Personalized Self-Paced Learning: with access to technology, students can now complete their work in their own way and using their own timelines. With up-to-date resources and more databases, students have everything they need to learn at their fingertips.
  • Supporting Individual Needs: assistive technologies such as hearing aids, communication tools and more allow students with different learning needs and abilities to participate in “mainstream” society for meaningful individualized progress, thus creating more opportunities for all learning styles and needs.  

No Way! Debate

On the flip side, Christina, Amaya, and Matt presented us with three resources as well: Equity and Justice podcast, How Access Gaps Interact and Shape Digital Divide…, and The Digital Divide has Become Chasm. You can watch or listen to their opening argument here.

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Some of the main points that the group addressed were as follows:

  • Inequitable Access: not all communities or even schools within the same division have the same access to technology, therefore increasing the achievement gap because of a lack of access to materials, devices, Wi-Fi, and more. Usually, higher socio-economic households have more access to technology and the internet. For many though, there is insufficient access to technology at home, or to up-to-date technology as well.
  • Lack of Funding: across the board, we’re seeing a lack of funding to equip our schools and communities with the proper technology and access to the internet. As we’ve seen over the course of the pandemic, gaps in technology and accessibility are only getting wider.
  • Issues with Privacy and Data Sharing: the group also brought up the fact that just because something is “free” doesn’t necessarily mean that it is free. Most of the time things that appear free come with a cost. Some of those costs are data sharing and mining practices. Have you ever read the small print in the terms of service before? You may be outwardly agreeing to your information being shared without even realizing it. Most companies have profit margins in mind and have become very successful because they can be very ruthless when it comes to making money.
  • Algorithmic Biases: social media and search engines are using unfair algorithms to either flood the results with a set of desired results outside of the actual searchable material, or it can play on privilege and racism, leaving those who may already be on the outskirts of society more marginalized and ostracized.
  • Digital Divide: material access, how tech is used, outcomes, and effects of third parties.

A Few Thoughts & Interpretations

To be quite honest, the Hip-Hip-Hooray group did an excellent job of making me think of different ways that technology has made society more equitable. From hearing aids to, communication devices, it allows people to participate in “mainstream society” more freely. Many times, throughout the argument, I was thinking to myself that they were very convincing. However, I had to stop my train of thought often and evaluate the debate statement once again. Even with all of these advancements, I still know that technology isn’t equitable amongst all the places within Regina Public Schools, let alone the entire world.

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When voting for the groups, it was tricky because I think that the group that agreed did a great job of presenting information, backing it up with facts, directly asking targeted questions, and had really strong rebuttals, so if I had to judge the debate just off of that, they for sure would have won. However, the prompt itself is troubling to me. I firmly disagree with the statement, as even in my own teaching practice I have witnessed differences in technology equity between schools that I have been at and even in classrooms within the same school. I find that these debates are tricky to truly pick a side as the prompts are written in such a way that you really feel a strong pull to one side or the other, and regardless of the debate itself, you still feel a certain way when the debate concludes (or maybe I am speaking for myself entirely, which most definitely could be the case).

Anyways, I do think that both sides brought up quite convincing arguments and brought to light a lot of key information that I may not have considered previously. However, I can’t say that I was able to sway my original decision prior to the debate. But if I had to choose a side that was more convincing (regardless of what I believe wholeheartedly) I would have had to sway and say that the agree group did a phenomenal job of debating. I also picked up a lot of great tips for our debate coming up soon.

Step Right Up! Let’s Hear It!

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Thanks for popping in. I am always so blown away by the number of people who stop by and like or comment on my post, share on Twitter, and more! As always, I know that people are busy, and having so many participants in this course is definitely unique and presents its own challenges too. I am passing no judgment if you skipped everything I read and scrolled right on down to this to leave a comment or a like. I am grateful for any and all contributions.

  1. Did your opinion sway after hearing the arguments from both sides? Why or why not?
  2. If you could pinpoint one main reason why technology is not equitable, what would it be and why?
  3. In your own experience, what technological divides do you see and what solutions (if any) do you have to tighten the gap?
  4. Was there a technology that either group mentioned that you never considered before?
  5. Is there an idea you wish either side argued, that wasn’t mentioned?

5 thoughts on “Tech Equity is as Real as it Gets, and There’s No Way Around it… There’s a Road that’s Been Through Hell, and Tech Equity has Been Down It…

  1. Hi, Kelly!
    Awesome blog post once again!
    I just published my blog on this topic yesterday, and I reflected on the ways that, in my view, technology is not equitable. They included…
    1) Access to both internet and devices. COVID certainly brought to light that many people within our society do not have as much access as others. Foundationally, this socio-economic problem has always existed in out society; COVID just exacerbated the problem.
    2) Digital literacy. Although we are constantly entrenched in technology everyday, many students and parents lack digital literacy. Being taught the skills and knowledge needed to effectively use a computer and search the web is something that not everyone has been afforded. This lack of digital literacy, within a technological world, can have a detrimental impact on these people’s life opportunities.

    1. Kayla, thanks for stopping by. I too agree that digital literacy and citizenship plays a vital role in being a “good digital citizen”. However, with our current governemnt, policy makers, and curriculum writers, this subject matter is not recognized or deemed as important enough to implement into our curriculums, making them mandatory. I think our current model focuses on being reactionary, rather than proactionary when it comes to dealing with technology and learning. We discussed this extensively in our last course, and I personally think that it should be a stand alone curriculum that is scaffolded and presented as a framework that is seen through K-12 learning, thus making it grow with the students as they embark on new challenges and learning experiences. I know Ribble’s new book has a great framework. If you check out one of my earlier posts (here) you can make a copy of the framework for your own personal viewing.

  2. I think this debate would have been very different if we looked at this class pre-covid. Technology has reduced some gaps (i.e. offering supports for different learners) however has created more gaps in accessibility globally. In my classroom, where each student has their own device provided to them, it balances in equity (in the room…) but outside of school is a different story. I also teach in an affluent neighbourhood, so the challenges we faced during the pandemic were far different than those at a community school. There is no one easy answer, but I still feel it has created a larger gap between those who can/vs. who cannot? Look at last semester where we looked at people who do not grow up using tech/social media… when they finally do use a platform, their digital footprint is small, but they may not have the digital citizenship skills to act responsibly on those apps. Access is a privilege and unless everyone has equal access (to a device or network) then I still believe it has furthered the divide between those who can and those who cannot. Great post, Kelly!

    1. Great points, Dalton. I too think that things would look very differently in a pre-COVID world. However, I think that COVID has made us realize that there are a lot more gaps happening than maybe we originally had anticipated. Even though we provide technology to our students in some capacity, there still isn’t enough. Especially right now in Regina Public Schools, we are having to do things differently, and learn to do things without the technology resources that we once had. You’re also right. Access is a priviledge.

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