Government Support Needed for Technological Equity

Tech Meme

At the conclusion of an informative debate led by colleagues Bob, Katherine, Ian, and Ainsley, I had no idea who had won.  Both sides presented compelling and thought provoking articles that caused me to think deeply about my stance.  After additional research and time to ponder, I believe that technology can be an equating force in society, but it will require meaningful and long term government support.

Robot Doctors

Robot Doctor

Source https://aiaconnect.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/robotdoctor.jpg

The provincial government has supported recent technological advances with the implementation of Robot Doctors in remote locations of Saskatchewan.  These robots have lead to a reduction in expensive medical evacuations and have certainly brought more equity to the remote parts of the province.

Educational Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology

Source https://aiaconnect.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/robotdoctor.jpg

Assistive Technology (AT) has become a stabilizing force in the lives of students with various learning difficulties.  Some of the more effective programs are Kurzweil, which converts text into computer generated speech, and Dragon Speech, which can convert your speech into written text.  The research states that in order for these technologies to be used seamlessly with our students, they must become part of the class DNA.

Once the AT is accepted as a regular routine in the classroom, rather than a cumbersome annoyance, then the learning ability of all students can improve.

Government Support Essential

At this point, everything sounds great.  So where does the support of the government come into play?  The single biggest drawback of Assistive Technology in the classroom is the inefficiency.  And the inefficiency comes from under-trained teachers or too few teacher assistants.  In the past, the government has invested money to bring technology to the classroom, but there have been oversights on their part.  For example, there may be several class sets of laptops or tablets in a school, but the broadband strength of the Wifi can not support all of the devices at the same time.  Furthermore, schools may pay for subscriptions to various technology sites and applications, but if the school staff is not given proper training on how to efficiently use these applications, then they are pushed to the side and ignored.

With technology in the classroom,  to be all-in, or not at all.  I believe AT can provide numerous benefits to students of all learning styles and abilities, but it can only be accomplished with proper training and support.  Technology itself will not lead to an increase it student marks.  Instead, we have to be willing to invest in the teachers as well.  Teachers, who have been properly trained and informed on the best use of technology and the associative benefits will be ready to pass this knowledge on to their students, which helps to benefit everyone.  However, if teachers training is ignored and underemphasized, then technology will benefit very few of our students and will not allow it to be an equitable force in our society.

An analogy would be giving each of your students a brand new bike, but not teaching them how to ride it.  Sure, some may figure it out on their own, but how many will fall flat on their face?

Therefore, let’s invest in technology and our teachers to ensure that our students have a smooth ride.

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7 thoughts on “Government Support Needed for Technological Equity

  1. I agree. We, as teachers, need division support, meaning professional development opportunities and funding. When I think of how much I’ve learned about these relevant technological topics in this class alone, I cannot help but think that ultimately education is the key to getting the most of technology in the future. Great post!

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  2. That broadband/wifi thing really hit home on Friday when Sasktel conked out. It just so happened that it occurred RIGHT when 150 grade nines were supposed to be printing off or sharing on google docs their essays. Unhelpful.
    So then, when it’s a widespread problem like that, are there any counter measures to be taken? Should school’s wifi be run through different routes? Accessibility and wifi is such an interesting topic!

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  3. Agreed! It matters that we invest in the people who are helping the students learn the technology. Creating opportunities for teachers to connect with Ed Tech support or Digital Consultants generates learning opportunities that go beyond the tech they are using, they have the potential to change a way a teacher teaches…. that affects many students!

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  4. I agree! It surprises me that training is not being implemented. I found a great article about this very topic which I wrote about in my blog. It explored the data pointing to the importance of teacher training and easy process of implementing the training.

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  5. annegb, I’m sorry to hear about your tax problems. I despise taxes more than I can say in polite company.I watch Fox News also, because it’s the only real news on teeolisivn. The networks are a bad parody of Dan Rather, who (bad as he was) was still the cream of the Network crop. CNN is just silly, and MSNBC is a parody of a network and much of its programming could pass straight into an SNL skit unchanged, where folks who actually have talent could read it.

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