Is Technology a Force for Equity?

Another week, another debate topic. In this debate, we discussed whether or not technology is a force for equity. This topic is interesting  to me because, personally, I’ve seen countless videos or articles that are claiming that such is true (like the CNA Speaking Exchange video, for example), but very little (or none) for the opposite side. Obviously there are some – otherwise this debate would not exist – but it just goes to show how hard technology is being pushed in our society, for better or for worse.

My experience seems to perhaps not speak for everyone, however, as proven by the pre-vote for the debate.

The slight majority believed that technology is NOT a force for equity. I do have to say, I was surprised by this outcome. Coming into the debate with what knowledge I had, I had figured that agree would have been the vast majority. Perhaps my classmates know things that I do not? Either way, after the debate, there was quite a bit of change.

The majority did, however, stay the majority.  Before the debate started, this had surprised me, but did the post-vote surprise me? Well, let’s look over the debate and figure that out.

Technology is a Force for Equity: Arguments

Ryan’s side of the argument was coming in with the majority of us disagreeing with him, so he had to fight hard to convince us of his side. One of the articles Ryan gave us to read is, ‘Technology can empower children in developing countries – if it’s done right’. This article discusses how many companies, including Dell, have launched global initiatives to increase technology access in youth around the globe, through computers, or more increasingly, mobile technology such as phones or tablets. The article also does touch on the other side of the argument, saying

“Technology has the potential to be a huge force for good but it is not a silver bullet, a fix-all solution to how to to fix the education and employment problems for young people in developing countries.”

While technology can be a force to bring equity across the world, you cannot just throw technology at the problem and call it a day. It requires planning and proper implementation for it to be a proper force for equity.

Technology is NOT a Force for Equity: Arguments

The opposite side of the argument – led by Kaytlyn – talked about how there is much more to equity than simply giving access. In the article,Continuing Advocacy Programs and Forging New Partnerships Are Keys to Creating Digital Equity’,one of the things they discuss is how not every student has access to all of the technologies that teachers are asking students to use. Sure, they may have access at school itself, but what happens if something needs to be taken home for homework, but a student does not have internet access to do research, or even a computer to do the work on? The article mentions that many school districts in the United States are working toward having access to students through public hotspots, or public free wi-fi zones, but that is not always a solution for every student. It only solves the problem if the student does not have internet, AND if they are able to gain access to these public zones. If they don’t have the technology needed to access these public hotspots in the first place, they do not exactly help. Don’t get me wrong, I think these are a great step in the right direction, they are just one part of a solution to a big problem.

Conclusion

So at the end of the day, what do I think after the debate? I will say, that the debate did sway me. While at the start, I thought that technology is a force for equity, I lean more on the side that it is not a force for equity. While I do think it can be a great thing for equity and is a great stepping stone, there has to be more done than just throwing technology at the problem. There is more to it than that, and until those avenues are explored, I cannot say that technology is a force for equity.

 

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