EC&I 833: July 5,2021

Educational technology is something that is continuously changing and evolving.  At the time, the invention of the chalk board was ground-breaking, much like the invention of film projectors or the typewriter.  We are currently living in a technologically driven society with the use of computers, tablets, smartphones, laptops, etc.  This is beneficial for schools to enhance the education of their students.  However, not all schools have the same funding or ability to access technology, which may cause a divide in how material may be presented to students. 

Based on my own teaching experience, I have taught in a school where technology is available within my classroom, and I am able to utilize this during school hours.  However, the majority of my students live in poverty and their caregivers cannot afford WiFi or technology to use at home, making them incapable of working on assignments at that may incorporate research.  As great as it would be to solely use laptops and go paperless within the classroom, it is not a reality for many schools.  Postman discusses how the advantages and disadvantages of technology are never distributed evenly amongst the population.  This is evident not just within our community, but throughout the country and worldwide.  One’s education, career, and overall wealth may be impacted depending on their accessibility to various forms of technology.  It is unfortunate that not all people are provided with the same opportunities in life, but it is unfortunately the reality of the world we live in.

I recently completed my third year of teaching, so educational technology has not drastically changed during that time.  However, I have noticed that I am learning new ways of teaching students who may have impairments or exceptionalities.  Utilizing the technology available and seeking out advice from educators who have taught similar students in the past has helped me grow into a more well-rounded educator. 

6 thoughts on “EC&I 833: July 5,2021

  1. Thanks for posting this Reid. I can relate to your students and their SES. I see the same types of issues popping up each day and have often wondered why we aren’t doing more to balance the playing field for those students who don’t have the privilege and benefit that other students do. Our schools and school boards invest money in textbooks that often become outdated, ruined, marked up or lost. Those costs are passed on to students and ultimately taxpayers. My thought would be to invest that money in laptops with preloaded, digital texts for students to access and include these in their student fees. Once they graduate, they can take the laptop and all of their work with them. Thoughts on this?

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    1. Thank you for your response, Darcy. I wholeheartedly agree with your thoughts on this. It is interesting to see what changes will be made in the future so all students have equal opportunities to succeed within the classroom.

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  2. Hey Reid!
    First off, it is good to see you.. it has been a while – I hope you are doing well!
    Second, Postman’s notion of the advantages and disadvantages of technology being unevenly distributed among the population caught my attention as well. Having spent half my career in a community and the other half or so in a more suburban school, it is hard to disagree. The difference in resources afforded (ed-tech or otherwise) to the students of one school compared to the other was striking; it was almost hard to comprehend when one considers that the schools are only a few kilometers apart – I found it disheartening, to be honest.
    Darcy also brings up a super interesting suggestion. I agree that it makes much more sense than investing big money in textbooks, but I would still be concerned that the root causes of the inequity would continue to go unaddressed.

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  3. Hey Reid. I really noticed this inequity in a new way during the pandemic. In my head, I always knew this inequity existed, but it seemed less important when we were in school, because I could provide the necessary tech. However, the pandemic certainly exacerbated this inequity, and showed my how blind I was to my own privilege in ignoring the true realities of students’ lived experiences. Yes, we were instructed to give paper packages to those who needed them, but what an inequitable experience! I remember photocopying a paper version of a learning contract assignment, for example. Automatically the assignment became less engaging, with its lack of colour, and lack of video and other visual components. Yes, the core assignment is there, but further inequity exists as students with access to a laptop are afforded the assistive technology that will help them demonstrate their learnings more effectively — spell check and grammar check, Google read and write, thesaurus and dictionaries at the click of a button. All of these tools become non existent, leaving the paper copy student at a significant disadvantage.

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  4. I wonder how we can make playing fields more equitable for all students in our divisions, and from school to school. It seems like some schools are well equipped and things are maintained and provided, and then in other places, it seems like an afterthought. Although pandemic learning was more available for some families that had multiple pieces of technology, that wasn’t the case for most of the families at my school. Even though our division was given extra money that they put towards rolling out more technology in the schools, it isn’t enough for all schools in our division. I know that there are some schools where families send technology to school with the kids to use, but I know in my current school, I am constantly finding creative ways to share technology so students can participate and engage using it. Thanks for sharing your post, it provoked a lot of thoughts and good discussion.

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  5. I like Darcy’s idea. The amount of money spent on textbooks, quite frankly, is astronomical. With laptops becoming more and more affordable, I feel that providing students with these may have a better payoff. The trick is with who holds the information. I know for electronic textbook rights, often there isn’t much of a cost savings. Textbook manufacturers save a ton in printing and shipping, but that savings isn’t necessarily passed to the consumer. For a math or a science class that is very textbook-dependent, teachers may have to think outside the box and use different resources to teach. Looking at accounting workbooks, it was something like $60-80 per student per work book. This workbook is used for a single class for a single semester and then thrown in the garbage. There has to be a better way to do things.

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