The personal learning network for educators
I am an undergraduate at ISU in my third year studying to be a Special Education teacher. I am currently enrolled in a summer course learning about Assistive Technology. I am a firm supporter of the use of technology in the classroom, but a recent class discussion question got me thinking. Is technology use in the classroom a right? Is it fair?
Would you go as far as to say that technology use in the classroom is a right for students? Although not legally a right, should it be? Why? Why not?
Is it fair? Many schools do not have the funding to support the use of technology in the classroom. Does that then mean that it is unfair for other schools to implement its use? Why? Why not?
I know that I have mixed opinions when it comes to answering these questions and I am eager to hear what other people have to say regarding this topic.
First, I wonder if the idea of funding is changing somewhat. In Indiana, schools now have the opportunity to take funding that originally would have gone for textbooks and use it on alternative curriculum, including the purchase of hardware and software. To that end, my district is providing an iPad to each incoming freshman and sophomore student next fall. (We'll increase that by one grade each year until each student leases an iPad each year. ) So, we have the ability to provide technology to students.
On the other hand, it may not be that simple as with other districts in other states, or even other districts in Indiana. We see that anyway with districts that are barely scraping by financially, while other districts are building new schools, hiring new staff, and so on.
Personally, I'd say it's completely fair for a district to acquire and implement technology assets if they have the funding available to do so. If a district doesn't, maybe there are steps they can take (grant writing, for example) to generate funding. I don't think we want to be in a situation where we hold students in one district back simply because other students in other districts automatically don't have hte same opportunities.
On the other hand, if we demand educational equality, then I'd say it's the obligation of the Federal Government to step in and provide for that. State governments are already cash-strapped, and to expect every student to have access to the same technology, etc. would probably only be possible on the state level.
I had to struggle with a similar issue on one of my Grad Dip Ed courses. It became apparent that equality and fairness are both multi-faceted. For example, we can give everyone the same tool (e.g. laptop) to cover equal access but is it equal opportunity - perhaps not when some students may require a different laptop as may be the case for assistive tech. In this sense, it is unfair to give exactly the same tool to every student.
I have also heard of cases where differences in tools (e.g. mobile phones) have led to bullying and this has been used as an argument for banning phones in the classroom. Is that fair?
Teaching and learning is risk-y business. I think the only way forward with regards to your question is to ask whether or not technology ultimately promotes learning or detracts from it. If there is a way to mitigate the 'unfairness' and 'inequality' then you'll probably find that technology will enhance teaching and learning.
I hope this helps.