When we think about equity, we often think in terms of resources. Students need access to schools, books, quality teachers, computers, and the internet. However, access alone is not enough. Technology is often touted as the great equalizer that can level the educational playing field, but we’ve seen that access to technology is not enough. What is more important is how we use it.
If we only allow low-income students to use technology for remediation, we are never providing the quality educational opportunities that we provide to more privileged students. All students need to engage with authentic tasks when working with technology, rather than tasks that only reinforce basic skills. This should not be surprising, as this is the best way to engage learners in any capacity in the classroom. Learning needs to promote discovery, encourage imagination, and allow for problem-solving.
For technology to have the positive impact we want with all students, we need not focus on the access to technology, but rather on how it is used. Teacher support and peer interactions are key to having a positive experience with technology for students. We are social learners, so having positive interactions with other people allows for deeper understanding and more substantial learning. As with all learning, teacher support is key. Combining strong, supportive teaching with technology instruction could in fact bring the equity that we hope to achieve.