Another busy week in the semester has come and gone and with that another debate! This week we debated the topic of is technology a force for equity in society. After watching both Ryan and Kaytlyn debate it out, I have to say I was glad I did not pick this topic as it was a tricky one! However, they both did a wonderful job supporting their sides of the debate! To begin I think it is important to allow my readers to ensure they know the difference between equity and equality as our class discussion also went in different directions because it is easy to confuse the two! Check out this short video to remind you of the key differences!
Now that we have an understanding of what equity and equality mean we can now look at if technology is a force for equity or if it is not. Looking at the prevote percentages one can understand that more of the EDTC400 class agreed that technology is not a sense of equity in society. For myself I was on the agree side, understanding that technology allows for many individuals to live a fulfilling life allowed me to conclude that yes technology allows for equity.
Ryan and Kaytlyn as mentioned above did wonderful jobs in supporting their side to the debate. Let’s look at what some of their arguments were:
Ryan took on the task of agreeing that yes technology is a force for equity in society. Throughout his video and with the articles he supplied to the class he gave many examples to support his side. Ryan made the point that as technology is always advancing and improving, allows for greater access and helps individuals improve their place in the world. Let’s take a look at the three main points, Ryan stated:
- Improves the life for individuals with varying abilities: The first point Ryan stated to support his argument is that technological advancements can improve the lives of individuals with varying abilities. I completely agree I have had the opportunity to work with many individuals with varying needs and many use technology such as their phones to communicate, wheelchairs for mobility, and other forms of technology to improve their lives and allow them to become independent individuals. This article that Ryan shared with the class shows advanced technology options to help people with varying abilities, but it is not just these big advancements that have helped individuals. As Kendall stated in her blog post it can be the simplest technology platforms that improve the quality of life for individuals with varying abilities. Some of these examples are wheelchairs, glasses, hearing aids, and many more examples. By giving individuals with varying abilities these technological advancements allow them to have a better chance of employment, individual mobility, and overall improves their quality of life. Take Stephen Hawking, for example, he was one of the greatest scientists known, while living with motor neuron disease. He was truly an inspiration to many people and his legacy will live on. The very sad reality of individuals with varying abilities having access to these technological advancements is the fact that individuals who do not need these advancements to help them throughout their daily life now think it is unfair that individuals with varying abilities are given these aids. Aurora gave a very good point to this is when you are the person with the privilege and power and someone is given aids to make it more equitable, those individuals feel as though they are being attacked and also need those advancements. This is not just with technology but any actions that are made in society to lead to a more equitable world.
- Enhancing the Worlds Education: The second point Ryan considers to support his argument is through technology advancements the world’s education is beginning to see improvement. For example, looking at refugee camps, many individuals in these camps do most of their schooling in the camp and have very limited to a high-quality education. With the implementation of technology in these camps will then allow them to receive a higher level of education through having access to the internet and education resources online. These individuals living inside the camps are also very limited to the world outside of these camps, with that by having technological connections to the outside world will allow them to further their education and understanding of the world they live in. This article also supports the benefits of education in developing countries and how it allows students to have more access to different learning opportunities and communication around the world.
- Gives Youth a Voice: As pointed out in many other debates that have been discussed throughout the semester, technology allows students to have a voice and say in their lives and who they want to become. Through the use of social media, accounts youth are now able to express their own thoughts and opinions on specific topics that are relevant to their life. Having these accounts allows them to stay up to date on breaking news, acknowledge diversity throughout the world, and become social activists for something they believe in. This article supports this statement by understanding that teenagers have grown up with technology around them and it is easy for them to find their voice through these platforms. This example shows how teenagers use their social media accounts to raise awareness to the injustice in their society and shows society that even though they are young their voices still need to be heard. With this example, this allows for more equity between age groups and not just economic and ability stances.
After Ryan gave his points to explain how technology is a force for equity in society, we can now look at how Kaytlyn supported her argument suggesting that technology is not a force for equity in society. Let’s take a look:
- Digital divide, Digital equity, and Access: The first point Kaytlyn stated to support her side of the argument looks at the digital divide and how not all students have equal access to technology devices which then puts them at an unfair advantage. If not all students have access to these devices, how will we ever form an equitable society? Even if the schools have access to these devices, how is it equitable if not all students have access to these devices outside of the walls of the school? This article shares that even though there is access within the school does not mean that all students are at an equal playing field because some students can go home and continue their homework, while others can not do homework or continue their learning online because they do not have access to it, thus putting one student above another. Yes, there are public
libraries, and other programs such as the program that Ashlee works at that gives students the ability to have free access to these forms of technology, however, if the child is unable to get to these institutions, or they simply do not have the time that makes it very hard for them to further their learning outside the classroom. Mark Barnett also supports the idea of technology in the classroom to enhance one’s learning, however, a lot of schools do not even have access to these simple devices that allow students to work inside the classroom as well. However, engineer companies are coming together trying to form affordable devices to allow all individuals to have access to these devices in their home and at school. However, as both Katia and Kaytlyn gave articles to support there are organizations that are helping individuals who do not have access to these forms of technology, receive these devices. Programs such as Tech Goes Home a nonprofit organization whose main goals is to give lower-income families access to these digital platforms. With that, as we saw in Tuesday’s discussion, these inequalities go much farther than just technology, the individuals who are affected are also affected in many other areas of society and with that society needs to be investigated as a whole to understand what needs to be done to see change. It is not just the issue of getting iPads into the hands of students, but much larger than that.
Along with the points that each debater stated to support their side, the class discussion also raised some very important parts that need to be considered when discussing and finding solutions to this controversial topic. Kendall asked the question of who gets a voice? The individuals who have access to these technology devices or everyone? As well as who are the individuals who are seen to need these advancements? The schools of middle and higher class students or schools of lower class families? Katia also made the point that not everything thing in schools is equitable and not everyone can participate so what does that mean for technology? Are we saying that no one should have access to the technology to make it equal? Throughout the class discussion, the point that was also raised was not all schools have the budget for these advancements, with that it goes past student to student equity but school to school and division to division. The overarching question to sum up this debate is the one Tianna stated at the end of the discussion. What barriers need to be removed to allow it to be equitable? What barriers stand in our way when looking at this specific topic? There is not just one wall in all of this, there are so many scenarios and contexts that impact the accessibility to these devices and what some believe to be equitable is not viewed the same as others.
After the class discussion, the class than needed to do the post-vote for the debate. Like many of my other classmates I changed my vote to disagree with this statement, however, after doing further research and further analysis I then again changed my perspective once again!
As one can see above there are so many aspects of society that need to be considered to understand if technology is a force of equity in society. I am still in between when it comes to this topic, however, with the points Ryan stated to support his argument, I agree that technology can be a force of equity in society if we see some changes in how society views equity and social constructs. Technology can support so many individuals, however, as we understand not all individuals are given the opportunity to receive these resources. However, I believe that our debate discussion led more into bigger social problems that need to be addressed such as school budgets, and other accessibilities that all individuals need to be given. Understanding that if social constructs and ideologies would change, the technology could then allow for equity. I understand that so many other factors need to be considered when discussing this topic, but if we look at technology all on its own without adding all of the other variables, I truly believe that technology is a force for equity.