Reading through the blogs of my classmates, such as those of Ashley and Elizabeth, it appears as though I am not the only one who finds that they are somewhere in between the Agree and Disagree sides. I find myself wanting to agree that technology enhances learning. However, my experiences working in the field of education in Nunavut, in addition to the arguments presented in the debate, tell me that there is not a simple yes or no stance to this argument. I also acknowledge that my perspective is influenced by living in Nunavut which is a technologically deprived area of Canada.
To give you a little taste of the state of our technology here, some communities still do not have cell phone service and for those that do, it’s often unreliable. If you want internet, the monthly plans are often capped at a maximum of 20GB and will run you as much as $180/month. But don’t worry because with that you will receive a download speed around 256 kbps…or slower! These realities influence the amount of technology found in a typical Nunavut classroom and has limited my opportunities to see all that educational technology has to offer.
On the Agree side of the argument, the debaters did a good job of helping me to see some of the benefits of technology. Their strongest arguments were that technology improves access to education for students with learning disabilities, connects students globally, eliminates geographical barriers, and engages children in learning. These were all strong points that would have had me jumping to the agree side of the debate if it weren’t for the voice in my head saying “but what about the students who …”
- don’t live in an area that has adequate broadband to support interned based educational technologies
- don’t speak a language supported by educational technologies
- don’t receive support at home to use technology
- have a special need that is not supported by educational technology
- don’t attend schools with money to purchase programs, apps, etc. or to train teachers in how to meaningfully integrate the technology
These thoughts of mine seemed to resonate well with the arguments presented by the disagree side of the debate, specifically, about the lack of training that teachers receive for educational technology and the cost of educational technologies.
I agree with Elizabeth’s statement that educational technology enhances learning when used properly. I would also add that how privileged a student is affects how much their learning is enhanced. The privileges of the child could be socioeconomic, geographic, physical, etc. So, while I believe that, yes, technology enhances learning, I believe that it enhances learning for those students who live in the right place, speak the right language, have the right support at home, and have a TPACK and SAMR savvy teacher. To leave you with a little food for thought, check out Andrew Essex’s TedTalk on the role of technology in education and how it is creating an achievement gap – a digital divide.
In describing the Million program, he leaves us with some optimism for how, with a little creativity and support of the tech industry, we can reach out to those students who typically don’t benefit as much from technology.