The Inequities of Digital Access Found in Schools Today
They say children of today's generation are smarter than their past counterparts. They know more, they say more and they want and need more. They won't take "No" for an answer and would pull every string to be heard. They are, in one word, advanced. And much of this is to be thanked to the technologies that are present and available when they were born. The technologies that were once impossible are now the essentials of our tomorrow's hope.
The purpose of having advanced technology is to make the lives of people easier and better. With one touch, everything's done; with one click, everything' set; with one log-in, everyone's reachable - everything is made to be accessible. That is probably why educational institutions have adapted this innovational change in the world. Schools today have inculcated the use of advanced technology in learning - with the hope of making studies easier and better and making students globally competitive.
Before, all you need are a blackboard, a couple of chalk sticks, tables and chairs, pens, papers, books, the teacher and the students and then you're all set for an educational venue. The students of the older generation relied on what their textbooks say and on what their teachers fortunately remembered to teach; they had to write hundreds of papers with their own hands and have to go to the library to research.
Today, students can access their lessons on the internet through technological platforms; they seldom write, they type; and with one press of Enter, thousands of sources are given to them for their research paper. The modern technology has indeed made things easier - but not necessarily better.
With the hope of making things easier for everyone, including students, what innovators failed to include is that not everyone is fortunate enough to adapt to this change. And while it is undeniably a good change, it should not, however, tantamount to a compelling change.
Digital access to these modern instruments is not a walk-in-the-park, if not for schools, then at least for students. Schools only want the best for their students, they would want them to be aware of today's issues, to be knowledgeable of that which is happening around them, to be competitive in every sense of the word - and to be that, they must go hand-in-hand with the change and so they adapt it. Schools nowadays rely to the digital world to reach out to their students and for their students to reach out to learning. This is a good thing because it makes everything seem accessible - unfortunately, they rarely are.
If even a single student from a class failed to make a passing mark on his subject because of his lack of technological resources or his inability when it comes to digital access, there is clearly inequity. Yes, it is true that the Internet increases a student's reflectivity and competitiveness, but it may also be true that it is what limits him to learn.
Digital access is a great leap for education - if it is available for all. But it is not and while it is great to adapt it, it may bring injustice to those who are have-not's. Traditional learning is going far impractical nowadays and the help of digital learning is really a necessity but one should make it a point to not make it a compelling force to a student's education - it should not be a mandatory thing, it should be an incentive for those who are fortunate to have access and it should be an motivating factor to those who have none, yet.
Advanced technology is a permanent thing in the society and specifically in schools but it should not be a source of unfair advantage. If digital access is for one and make it be of great bearing then digital access is then for all.
Educational Literature on the Digital Divide
- American Library Association Office for Information Technology Policy
- Data-Driven Equity in Urban Schools- ERIC Digest
- Internet: A Medium or a Message?
- Technology and Equity-ERIC Document