The Disparity of Access to Technology

Readers,

To fulfill the Tech Task #2 Assignment for ECOMP 355, I will be addressing the following question:

How do we address problems of access in schools (i.e., unequal access to technology amongst students)? Is there an ethical role of schools or governments to increase access?



I feel this question is of great importance when discussing the the use of technology in the classroom. Clearly, not all schools will have the same access to technology due to various factors, the most common of which being availability of financial resources.

In October of 2010, I completed my first pre-internship in Melville, Saskatchewan at a school called Miller Elementary. Miller is a part of the Good Spirit School Division, a division that emphasizes the use of technology mainly through the use of Smart Boards. While spending time teaching at this school and using the Smart Board, I was easily convinced of its teaching merits: students were able to interact in a hands on way with their learning, were able to share resources with other students and were able to take care of practical tasks like roll call, checking weather and keeping class appointments.

While all of these reasons are attractive selling points, not all schools in all school boards can have Smart technology in their classrooms. In fact, many schools across the country struggle to gain access to text books and novels to use in their classrooms. It seems unfair to me that schools that schools that cater to certain demographics are given more sophisticated tools for their programming. If different divisions were mandated to share their financial resources, Good Spirit would not have Smart Boards in all of their classrooms, but other schools would not be struggling to buy the basics. When students are treated unfairly at such an early stage, the situation is set up to create an increasing disparity as time passes.

Access to technology is also problematic as it is dictated by capital corporations that care more about profit than how people learn. Therefore, as companies dictate prices and the market value of technology, schools are left at the mercy of capital culture. No matter how current a school’s technology, the technology will always eventually be obsolete.

Having said that, even having one computer in the classroom may grant a certain student their only access to very important technology. One of the points this article on equity and technology makes is that some students who come from homes who cannot afford a computer, can still benefit when using a computer in the classroom. As people who are future educators, we have a responsibility to prepare students as much as possible, and the ability to engage with technology is a significant part of that.

Thanks for reading – bye for now.

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