Have you examined equity lately?

Photo Credit: From Business Korea Article

equity in magnifying glassWow!  Tuesday evening  was filled with lots of learning! Bob, Katherine, Ian, and Ainsley did an amazing job presenting their sides on the debate topic- Technology is a force for equity in society? I have been struggling to begin this blog post because my mind has been bouncing back and forth not knowing where to start.  I decided to first to examine the word equity and I turned to the online Merriam-Webster’s dictionary to help me wrap my head around what equity was defined as.  The simple definition in the online dictionary states equity is “fairness or justice in the way people are treated” and the simple definition for equality is “the quality or state of being equal: the quality or state of having the same rights, social status, etc.”  Then I began to explore equity in education and began to reflect about my experiences as a educator and a student.

What does fair look like in education ? 

fair quote

Photo Credit: Source

Photo Credit: Source

soccer pic of equityI agree that “Fair doesn’t mean giving every child the same thing, it means giving every child what they need.”  As depicted in the picture as a teacher I could give each student the same the guide reading lesson or tool to use in the classroom, but is that equality helping each of my students?  No it is not…Every student is unique in their own way and deserve to have the opportunity to learn and grow through differentiated instruction.  In order for each student to be successful I need to provide my class with different supports to help make sure everyone can reach their full potential.

Does technology help bridge the gaps and make education more equitable?

With the use of technology students and adults are able to go online to help receive some education in a variety of courses.  Daphne Koller discusses Coursera in a Ted Talk-What we’re learning from online education.  Coursera gives students the capability to log onto the website to sign up for free online courses that were designed by prestigious universities. She talked about how Coursera:

  • breaks away from one size fits all model of education-personalized curriculum
  • helps people receive higher education
  • there are enrichment topics
  • education is a fundamental human right
  • allows for life long learning

In the video Koller explains that the course has even helped out a parent whose child was very sick since was not able to attend classes because he would be exposed to germs that would harm his sick child.  This child’s parent was able to log onto Coursera from the comfort of home while keeping his child safe.  Koller even talked about how people can present a certificate after they have taken a class or classes and some are actually able to get credit if they approach and talk to a university.  It was also discussed that these courses are free.  That is amazing because then it helps so many people from a lower socio-economic status to have the opportunity to take courses if they can not afford them, but are all the courses actually free?  When I looked into free courses there were 1093 matches on the Coursera website.  At the top of the website it stated, “Looking for free courses? For all courses on Coursera:

  • You can explore lectures and non-graded material for free
  • Prices shown reflect the cost for the complete course experience, including graded assignments and certificates
  • Financial aid is available for learners who qualify”

I thought the courses were free?  If I did not have a lot of money I would be disappointed that maybe a course that I wanted to take was not free and that I would not be able to take it because I could not financially afford it.  On the website does state “financial aid is available for learners who qualify”, but how do people qualify?  How many courses/classes can someone qualify for?  How much does the financial aid cover?

In the article Ed Tech’s Inequalities there was an excerpt written from edX CEO Anant Agarwal that stated,

One way MOOCs have changed education is by increasing access. MOOCs make education borderless, gender-blind, race-blind, class-blind and bank account-blind. Up to now, quality education – and in some cases, any higher education at all – has been the privilege of the few. MOOCs have changed that. Anyone with an internet connection can have access. We hear from thousands of students, many in under-served, developing countries, about how grateful they are for this education.

What about the students who do not have the access to the internet?  Are students still able to learn if they do not have access to the internet or devices?  As discussed in the article flipped classrooms are also a big trend in education.  Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry wrote an article called “What Is The Flipped Classroom Model and Why Is It Amazing?”  In the article there is an infographic that explains what a flipped classroom is, what the supports say about the flipped classroom learning, and what the critics say.  In the article, the Ed Tech’s Inequalities, and another article provided by the disagree side-Scaling The Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achieve, all talk about the digital divide.  On the infographic is states “Not all students have meaningful access to model devices and the Internet.  The flipped classroom can further alienate students from lower socio-economic backgrounds.”  The infographic goes on further outlining how students who are privileged have access to:

  • “personal computer with high speed internet access in bedroom”
  • “owns latest smartphone and tablet”
  • “attends schools with large tax base and private funding”

While students who are underprivileged have:

  • “access to limited number of public computers for limited amount of time”
  • “family cannot afford fancy mobile device (or breakfast)”
  • “school is underfunded”

There are a lot of really benefits for using the flipped classroom model.  Students actually have time to be engaged in the learning in the classroom,have the chance to have meaningful conversations and more work time instead of just listening to a teacher lecture.  They can listen to their teacher from home and have the opportunity to play the lesson back as many times as needed to understand the material that is being presented.  If teachers use the flipped classroom model are they creating more of a divide in their classroom?  Are they adding more stress on the students who do not have the same access as other students in the class?

Does Technology Create Equity in Society?

 

yes no

Photo Credit: atayepley via Compfight cc

 

standardizedanimalsIn Stephanie Pipke-Painchaud’s blog post she reflected about her experience as a Differentiated Instruction Facilitator (DIF) and added this cartoon (Photo Credit: Image from Rockin Teacher Materials) onto her blog post as it her minded her of conversations she has had about differentiated learning.  I can remember seeing this cartoon in one of my undergraduate classes and discussing the importance of differentiation.  When I was looking into more about differentiation and the cartoon that Stephanie used on her post I came across an post written by Dave Mulder called The Teachers’ Lounge: Getting Real about Differentiation. In the post Mulder discusses a conference that he attended where Rick Wormeli was presenting on  formative assessment, summative judgment, and descriptive feedback.  Wormeli shared the same cartoon that Stephanie had used and often the argument is “that we should have different standards of assessment for different students, because the students are clearly unique individuals with different strengths and weaknesses and it isn’t fair to hold them all to the same standards.”  However, Wormeli put a twist on the cartoon and suggests that “we actually should hold students to the same standard.”  He explains that “If climbing the tree is a necessary part of the curriculum, then we simply must have every student get up that tree. Even the fish!” 

When I was first reading this I did not know what to think!

Wormeli stated that “it’s incumbent upon us as educators to do everything we can to help our students meet the high standard.”  I think it is important for all students to be given the opportunity to succeed and reach for a personal best.   How does a teacher help a student meet these standards?  In the post it was discussed it would “likely mean allowing different paths to reaching the standard, and providing ongoing, descriptive feedback to students as they are working to meet the standard that has been set: what is working, what is not working, what else they might try.”  To illustrate his ideas during the presentation he shared cartoons to show case how the other animals could climb the tree.  This picture of the fish (Photo Credit:  Mulder’s Photo from Wormeli Presentation) is just one of the examples of the cartoons that he shared to demonstrate the importance of providing students will multiple pathways. The pictures also made me think of our debate and how many of those animals used assisted technology to help them climb the tree.

The article “Assistive Technology Tools-Supporting Literacy Learning for All Learners in the Inclusive Classroom” that Bob and Katherine provided for us to read connects to differentiating for students.  It discusses how differentiation can be challenging, but “One way that teachers can support the learning needs of a range of students is through assistive technology, which enhances students’ ability to perform and complete tasks with efficiency and independence.”  As Erin talked about in her blog post I have seen first hand that assistive technology has opened up the doors for students in the school that I teach at.  I have also heard stories from friends who teach in different divisions and how technology is enhancing learning and providing students with opportunities in their schools too.  In Tyler’s post, Is There Equity in Education, he has included two videos that showcase how technology has not only helped two people at school, but has made their lives better.  Those two videos demonstrate truly how technology can make a difference in a person’s life.   Amanada Morin lists 8 examples of assistive technology and adaptive tools that can be used in the classroom.  In the examples listed some of the tools are low-tech while others are more costly.  I agree with Kyle Dumont when his discussed in his blog post:

While I am in this class because I believe using technology is the way of the future of education, I also know that you can not replace good teaching. Yes these tools are amazing and they can help your student develop a deeper understanding of what concept you are attempting to cover, but if you are not using them appropriately they are as useful as a dried up ball point pen on a Scantron sheet. 

I think Kyle made a valid point that these tools are amazing, but teachers need to know how to effectively implement them in the classroom.  He raises another great point in his blog post about the cost in time and money invested in teaching educators how to use the tools in their classroom with the examples he provided.  I also think it is vital that students need time to understand how to use the tools being provided to them.  If students are not trained in how to use it to benefit his or her learning then it just becomes another gadget that the child may not take good care of.   I believe if a student knows how to use it and they are benefiting from the technology then the child will take care of the device.  Student’s would not want to damage something that is helping them in a positive way.

 

money and roads

Photo Credit: Source

Technology can open the doors and provide so many opportunities and paths for people…But at what cost?

Bob and Katherine introduced me to a new technology that I did not know existed.  Technology can not only help in education, but in health care system as now there are robots delivering health care in Saskatchewan!  It is amazing how this technology gives people opportunity to see specialists without having to spend so much money on travel, but how much does this technology cost?  I am guessing that this technology is not cheap as there would be more robots made available and how much does it cost to train the doctors and staff to know and understand how to use this technology effectively?  Just like in education technology is helping to open the doors for equity within society, but it will not reach everyone as money is always a huge factor.  It costs money to train everyone and purchase the technology!  When students  and patients are able to access the technology/tools and everyone knows how to implement it effectively then I think technology is very beneficial. 

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3 Comments

  1. I tried to post this comment earlier from my phone, but I don’t think it worked.
    I really enjoyed your post. You have many of the same wonderings as me. Thank you for sharing the Dave Mulder article. I am struggling this week as I think about equality and wonder if it something that is even possible. I sure hope one day it is.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Digital Dazzle | Lisa Cooper

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