Thoughts on Ed-Tech Inequalities

Audrey Watters asks, are education technologies helping education or making some things worse? That is an interesting question, especially for me as a preschool teacher. I spend a lot of time looking at the ways in which ed-tech tries to enhance learning for young children. However, these technologies often fail to provide the type of learning that young children need, such as concrete, real-world experiences. However, could some ed-tech be beneficial, especially for older children and teenagers. Can such applications, like the use of MOOCs (massive open online courses) provide a learning environment that is without borders or biases?

I agree with Watters when she looks at the inequity surrounding the use of ed-tech, especially when examining the accessibility of computers and high-speed internet. My oldest son in is high school and most of his classes do not have textbooks. Rather, the students are supposed to access information via the internet. I find this very problematic because it does not take into account the students that do not have internet access at home. Many families only have smartphones to access the internet, but that will not work well for students attempting to do homework. Likewise, many students do not have WiFi at home, which makes watching videos for school extremely difficult. I have heard of many students at my son’s school who have had to go to friends home to use their WiFi. In some cases, parents saw these students outside trying to access neighbor’s WiFi because the students were too embarrassed to ask for help or admit that they could not access their homework. The schools will say that students can do work at the library at school or check out a physical textbook if they need it, but again students are often too embarrassed to admit they need this. Hardly a status-blind or bank account-blind situation, despite some proponents of ed-tech claiming the opposite.

3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Ed-Tech Inequalities

  1. Hearing that kids are suffering to complete work is pretty upsetting to me. I feel like we have gotten so excited about our own access and ability to have such great technology we ran with it when we should be maybe walking with it. I know my old high school has almost incompletely gotten rid of their library and it is now the size of a closet because the “library” is now a hang out technology room only. Textbooks are online which like you mentioned makes it difficult for students to do at home assignments. My issue with interent growing up was the fact that my home was so rural that our internet went at a snails pace (still does) because we couldn’t find a provider to serve us.

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  2. In small towns and rural areas, McDonalds is the default place for kids to do homework because it’s often the best wifi for miles around. This is an interesting question going back to the SAMR model. If computers are mainly about substituting digital for paper textbooks, what are the advantages? Modest augmentation of the content?

    What’s basic now? Schools stopped making kids buy books long ago. Should schools guarantee access to basic access to the internet for all kids?

    I see really interesting discussions of “real world” now. Are books that we read to young children “real world”? Are they then not real world if they’re read and interacted with on a screen? Is skyping grandma concrete/ real world? Is listening to my favorite songs on my mom’s tablet real world? I keep nudging us to use words that are more descriptive to get away from the tech/ not tech to the specific experiences that are and are not beneficial. This is all so new and we don’t always have good ways to talk about them.

    Ed tech is almost always at the SA models of SAMR. Teaching kids about navigating the digital world is something quite different.

    So much to think about …!


    1. Your comment about “real world” is a good point. I guess I should say tangible experiences. However, I do believe that interacting with a real book versus a digital one is different and I would argue more beneficial.


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