Technology and Bandaids.

The first of Tuesday’s debates was something that really struck home.

As an English Language Arts teacher, a lot of my curricula depends on access to technology, from completing 1500 word essays to engaging in inquiry projects to writing researched papers. I can’t guarantee that I will have access or even my students will have access to the technology they need. This presents a rather large barrier in completing my curriculum.

So then, would a massive influx of computers, laptops, or tablets solve my problem? Would this guarantee my students’ success? Several sources from the Disagree side say no.

The point on Tuesday that was the most forceful was not from the debate itself, but was a comment from Steve. His remark about the free dispersal of laptops to at-risk youth presents many more problems than it solves. Systemic poverty and denial of human rights is not corrected through the donation of a laptop.

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Photo Credit: MemeGenerator

Technology is a tool. It does not solve problems by itself. It’s like expecting a hammer to build a house by itself and being dumbfounded when it does not. A hammer is only part of what is required to build a house. Many more tools are needed in order for the house to stand, being structurally sound, and safe.

I believe technology has a part in social equality, but it is not the only thing to promote equity.

As the agree team pointed out, open sourced education is widely available through many, many mediums. Applications such as iTunes U, Gale Courses through the Regina Libraries, and Harvard Online Courses give access to otherwise inaccessible educational avenues. However, because I’ve taken a whole gamut of online, free courses from Harvard, does that equal a Harvard degree? The idea of open education still carries with it a “less than” stigma. An open course on Harvard’s website is still less valued than a course that I would pay tuition for.

So then, how fair and equal are these courses from these illustrious places really? Perhaps in the future these courses will carry with it equal weight in the workplace, but I know if I tried to approach my employer with a printed off certificate from Harvard they would laugh at me.

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Photo Credit: Memegenerator

Again, technology is a tool, but it is not the only tool. As well, it is in how it is applied and used and by who. Handing out technology with no long term plan other than high hopes of equality do nobody any good. Technology is not a bandaid (though being removed from it is a similar painful experience…). Technology is not the solution. It is part of the solution that we have not discovered yet.

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7 thoughts on “Technology and Bandaids.

  1. Amazing post!! I totally agree that throwing laptops to students won’t solve the problem. Students still need to know how to find information and use the computers properly. If they need to write an essay or a paper, the computer won’t do it for them. They still need to know how to form proper sentences and create a paragraph that makes sense. You make a lot of valid points! Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I agree! When I have spoken to other teachers in various schools, we certainly don’t have the same number of laptops, carts, iPads, and/or classroom laptops. It really doesn’t seem to matter, “How many?” we have, it matters how effectively they are being utilized as a Tool to support student learning.

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  3. Great post, Kelsie! You make a lot of valid points, especially regarding the aspects of technology being a tool that shouldn’t be expected to be the “be all and end all” of our problems. We need to learn how to use it and we need to realize that it alone won’t solve our deeper, social problems. It can try to make the world a more equitable place, but we all need to be on board and know that more needs to be done than simply giving computers, tablets, and phones to those lacking said tools. Thanks for the post!

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  4. Your comparison to a hammer building a house is hilarious! Having technology does not equal learning. I am glad you brought up your thoughts on the online courses. When I was watching this weeks Ted Talk I had the same concerns regarding online courses. On one hand, yes it is allowing more people to access knowledge, however it does not provide the credentials required in the workforce. Although who knows what the future has in store.

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