Equity for Inclusion

25 Jun

It is so hard to believe that I am writing about our 5th and final debate! This last debate topic focused on the question of whether technology is a force for equity in society.

Team agree made up of Jen, Dawn, and Sapna started off with a strong opening statement. They argued points about the barriers technology breaks down, the connection it helps create, and also brought up a great point of viewing the the term digital divide as digital inclusion.

Team disagree made up of Amy S. and Rakan, also had an informative opening statement, which brought up things I had never even considered or knew about. The stats regarding racism and sexism online were alarming, as well as the facial recognition and AI biases and issues that exist towards marginalized groups.

I stayed solid in my opinion before, during, and after the debate that I agree that technology is a force for equity in society. One of the major points that came up a lot in our group discussion was the number of technology resources and access various schools have. In many schools/divisions, this is not nearly enough, and sometimes schools are even capped on how much technology they can have regardless of the socio-economic status of their community in an attempt to even things out. As I was thinking about this, the quote/idea “what’s fair isn’t always equal” came to my mind. We need to do a better job in providing technology access and resources to those in the most need.

equity

Image found HERE.

I don’t really think it’s about having the best or latest chromebook, computer or iPad, but more so the access to information, skills to be good digital citizens and media literate individuals, and of course connection to the greater world around them that technology can cultivate. Schools need to make sure that they can provide enough technology, including wifi access and bandwidth, that students AND teachers, have an opportunity to practice digital citizenship into their classrooms, and begin learning skills they will use at home or work one day. Again, I don’t feel this needs to be 1:1 devices, and teachers once again play a huge role in knowing what and how much their students, families, and community have in terms of technology resources and access.

I also feel that mobile smart phones are going to be the reality for many students and families for how they are accessing information for and from schools. Some of the argument of the disagree group centered around cost, and the fact that lower income students, families, and schools struggle to receive all the technology benefits, as they simply do not have the resources, but I think mobile phones are a way to gain more access. The agree group shared stats from this TechCrunch report, which highlights these number of smartphone owners with an average income of $15,000 or less.

-Aged 18-24 = 56%

-Aged 25-34 = 43%

-Aged 35-44 = 31%

Although there are no stats for high school students, I would guesstimate in my school about 80% of students in my classes have a smartphone. Many of them are just a device, and do not have a data plan, but they are able to access the internet with wifi.

This article does a great job of addressing many issues created by the digital divide, and provides some suggestions to help teachers navigate equity in this area. Doing your research, and knowing what access your students and families have is vital, planning thoughtful lessons that use technology (based on what you already found out), putting extra efforts into teaching digital literacy, providing extra opportunities to access, and as we always do, advocating for more resources in our buildings.

If we take every opportunity we have to provide our students exposure and interactions with whatever technology resources we have, and bring the focus back to digital citizenship and media literacy, I believe we will foster both equity and inclusion for our students.

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One Response to “Equity for Inclusion”

  1. jana_wlock June 26, 2018 at 3:35 pm #

    I agree with you Katie when you say that “fair isn’t always equal”. We need to ensure schools are being allotted technology based on the needs of the students and community. I feel that schools in lower socio-economic communities need more technology, whereas schools in more affluent communities could operate more off of a BYOD policy. I also really like what you said about finding out what access your students and families have outside of school. I don’t think we do this as much as we should (it would be easy enough at the beginning of the school year), but it’s extremely important in terms of planning lessons and assignments for our kids. Great post!

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