The words equity and equality are often used when it comes to education or technology. Some might argue that equity is that everyone gets the same and another could say that it is making sure individuals get what they ‘need’ so as to level the playing field. Of course, there are also conflicting opinions in the field of technology. So here we were Me, Jen and Dawn arguing that Technology is a force of equity in the society. Going into the debate I was enthusiastic and slightly a bit anxious because it was my first open debate and the disagree team had some very convincing and great points. The debate was a lot of fun and I learned so much from listening to the disagree team’s perspectives but it didn’t change my perspective and I fully agree to our stand that technology is a force of equity in the society.
As a team, we focused on how technology has removed many of the barriers people face in the past. What was unimaginable in the past is practical and common today, how connected the world today is and how it has revolutionized communication and bridged the digital divide. Technology has contributed a lot to promote equity in the society and yet sometimes it is blamed and made a scapegoat. Why blame the technology when we as a user and people who are responsible to deliver it in an appropriate was have failed? We don’t have the will to deliver it in a right way which in return creates conflicting opinions about the technology. The article 6 Ways Technology Is Breaking Barriers To Social Change narrates how technology is changing the world from artificial intelligence to big data to the ubiquity of smartphones, but many working to change society are just starting to understand how to harness tech forces for good. When we are at the phase of understanding to harness these tech forces in the right way, we should not jump to the conclusion that technology is creating inequality in the society.
The disagree team did a great job and came up with some thought-provoking statements and facts. They stated that technology is designed in ways to promote gender inequality, racial inequality, digital colonialism and economic inequality but it was hard for me to agree to this and to be honest as Esther says in her blog post even I never took the time to really think about how technology can actually promote inequality! Their perspective kept me thinking on how can something(technology) so radical and innovative be so narrow? And as Daniel states in his post, even I think that no issue related to technology or its application in society is black or white. There are always nuances related to how technology influences people and society.
However, Technology has done wonders in the field of education. It has been a medium to reach even the unreachable students. Web-based platforms have allowed us to remotely replace or facilitate many interactive processes such as purchases, booking appointments, and banking activities, buying flight tickets etc. Getting an education online is the next frontier for web-based convenience, and there are a number of reasons why this is an effective and attractive platform. In her ted talk video Daphne Koller a professor of computer science at Stanford University and a co-founder of Coursera explains how College education has traditionally been a privilege reserved for society’s elite, she narrates the advent of the Internet which has torn down barriers to education, allowing the world’s citizens to access higher education online for free. She explains how online classes can provide a “real class experience.” Students receive grades on homework assignments and earn a certificate upon successful completion of a course. The structure of online courses guarantees student engagement and
interaction. Finally, she states how free online courses elevate education to a human right. Education for all would unleash boundless creativity for innovation and support lifelong learning. The article How OER Is Boosting School Performance and Equity From the Suburbs to the Arctic is another example and speaks of how Open educational resources bringing Equity in education. The article narrates a story of Kotzebue, a village in Northern Alaska, which knows the meaning of “challenge” when it comes to education. With the help of OER, school districts adapted content to meet their local needs, maximize education budgets and ensured access to resources and educational rigor. By being able to serve all student whatever their race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, family background, or family income OER supported the goal of educational equity
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Open Education and Open educational resources, Virtual classrooms and many such technological benefits are leveling the educational playground. There was a time where one was supposed to get this education and knowledge by enrolling to the expensive educational institutions, it was reachable for only privileged class, but today the whole educational arena has changed, the concept of open education and open educational resources has revolutionized the field of education, it has replaced the traditional classroom and made education free, affordable, Flexible and accessible to all.
Accessibility: Open Education allows students to take courses at their own convenience, on their own time and place. Open learning systems are very effective and importantly Accessible when compared to its traditional counterparts. The rich resources in online communities help students to overcome hurdles. Open education has attracted many students who were very unlikely to gain higher education.
Affordability: The word free attracts everyone and in my view, the concept of free education is best served by open education. There are hundreds of lecture hours
which are available for free at reputed universities websites such as MIT, these are free and open to anyone and there are many online learning platforms which are also cheap and affordable for students.
Flexibility: Open education offers students the flexibility to choose what to learn and when to learn and how much to learn, in return putting them in control.
UNESCO also believes and states that universal access to high-quality education is key to the building of peace, sustainable social and economic development, and intercultural dialogue. Open Educational Resources (OER) provide a strategic opportunity to improve the quality of education as well as facilitate policy dialogue, knowledge sharing, and capacity building. Technology and Internet are constantly expanding and it can accommodate everyone irrespective of race, culture, socioeconomic status and break barriers. Equity means giving each student access to the resources they need to learn and flourish and technology serves that purpose and acts as a force of equity in the society.
Finally, we have to understand that the power of education is to bring equity in the society and technology aid’s that belief. Technology surely has the potential to enable solutions to some of the most pressing problems the world is facing today and now it is up to us to decide how to embrace it.