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Thursday, January 05, 2017

For and against: Does technology increase equality? | Open Education Europa

"Digital advocates believe education technology will increase equality. Most educators are not so sure. What are the arguments we’re hearing for and against?" continues Open Education Europa.

Photo: Open Education Europa

“Technology can play a role in increasing equality if and only if kids have access to technology, there are enabling conditions (trained teachers) and technology is put to good use (kids have a purpose).” Javier Rogla, Fundación Empieza Por Educar

Technology can make up for a lack of resources, if everyone has free and open access
Sugata Mitra’s famous hole in the wall project is the most famous example of this. Other examples such as the Open University or Khan Academy seem to favour equality. Anyone can now watch the greatest Harvard lecturers. However, accessing these resources depends on having a computer, and having the motivation to log on. If we don’t want to favour the rich and well-educated, we should give hardware and software for free. This is more than low cost, this is no cost.

Technology can lead to great outcomes by individualizing learning and opening up new fields
We’re continually reminded that we’re preparing kids for a future that we cannot yet imagine. Learning in the digital era embraces this unknown. Schools like High Tech High are leading the way in teaching robotics and coding, pursuing 21st curriculums, using project-based learning and flipped classrooms. These approaches are available to all. For example, in Bulgaria I recently came across the Vratsa Software Community, who are running free coding classes in Europe’s poorest region with the long-term aim of staffing a sustainable software company.

Technology supports new paradigms of teaching, provided that there is good training
Since Gary Kasparov played Deep Blue, games of chess have been staged between humans and computers. Today the winners are not humans or computers, but humans and computers working together. Technology can undoubtedly catalyse teacher capacity. Eneza Education has created a virtual teacher development and coaching tool that can be deployed via simple mobile technology across the whole of Africa. But we’ll need to think differently about the role of the teacher, and radically new models of teacher training.

Technology combats inequality by enabling lifelong learning
Digitisation and open access to online content have democratised education in significant ways. As long as you can get online, you can access a world of learning. It doesn’t matter what your background is or where you live. And it doesn’t matter how old you are. Lifelong, self-directed learning pushes education beyond the temporal boundary of our ‘school years’, and gives us a whole lifetime to master the competences and skills that put us all on an equal footing.
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Source: Open Education Europa