Does Digital Integration Mean Exclusion?

In 2018, UNESCO informed us that almost half the population will be online, this means that to be a fully active and engaged member of society, we would have to be digitally capable and literate. So, it made me think about what this meant to our future and students.

When I entered middle school, I was a bright teen ready to face the world. I had to welcome myself into this new classroom and environment. I was the only person of color and the only one who, I thought, was overwhelmed by this day. Still, I found myself feeling excited about the years ahead.

However, I also found myself with – what felt like – the slowest laptop in the world. Naturally, I was embarrassed. But more importantly, this made me feel like technology was in no way ‘enhancing’ my education.

Enhancing Education or Creating Exclusion?

 

Nowadays, there still are people who may be unable to afford information communications technology (ICT) or laptops. So, I urge you to think about the population who lack the resources or tools to be online and struggle to be digitally literate.

This could be due to factors such as affordability or discrimination. UNICEF’s ‘Access to the Internet and Digital Literacy’ report highlighted digital exclusion occurs among the systematically disenfranchised; for example, those who are poor, female, of color, those living in rural areas and more.

Digital Exclusion

With that said, the Cambridge International report stipulates that 90% of students studied complete their work with good old pen and paper. Meanwhile, the report also states that 48% use desktop computers during classroom lessons and another 42% use smartphones.

To me, this suggests a growth in the integration of technology in education. Deloitte’s study also outlined that 75% of teachers believe that digital learning content will replace textbooks within the next decade.

Ultimately, this creates a world where you are forced to feel there will be an increasing expectation to have ICTs within a classroom environment – that a lack of one will lead a discriminating effect, whether purposeful or not – where a student without their own ICT may feel left behind or excluded.

Is there any possibility of an affordable teaching environment?

 

As I find myself seated in a classroom, with waves of Macbooks and thousands of dollars’ worth of technological equipment, I ask you to consider whether the disenfranchised are doomed to be disenfranchised forever.

 

Written by: Andrea Selvarajah

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