Tonight’s debate, was once again, was very informative and brought forth some valid points on both sides. However, I must say that I sided more with the disagree side for a couple of different reasons:
- As stated in the article posted by Jasmine and Victoria, other equity issues still remain such as “special education services, food and nutrition, English learner services, and child care.” This doesn’t take into account aspects at home such as water or electricity that also factor into the gaps in our socio-economic or even urban/rural environments. Therefore, just because someone may have access to technology, doesn’t mean equity has been achieved.
- Victoria mentioned how the digital divide doesn’t just include access to technology anymore, it includes the skills necessary to use it and use it effectively and with purpose. You can’t expect to give someone a car who doesn’t know how to drive and expect them to succeed because they can now get from point A to point B. The education of these tools is important but costly and continuous as the vehicles continue to change and/or need maintenance.
- As Matt mentioned, we need to take into consideration the access some students have to these same technology tools outside of the class because a lot of them don’t have access, as this pandemic has brought to light. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use technology in school, but we need to use them in balance with other forms of learning. Going forward, how do you think we are going to address this discrepancy of having access at school but no access at home? Does this create more inequities?
- More on inequities with technology opportunities, Alec brought up a good point that sometimes providing students with individual (assistive) technology will ostracize students even more and marginalize them within their own class. To address this, UDL (Universal Design for Learning), is something to consider when planning. In addition, Matt brought up SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol). I’ll share more on what I learned about these models later.
- Lastly, I never thought about the point that Victoria brought up regarding usage of technology between different socio-economic groups. A study done in Western Australia looked at home children between 6 and 17 used technology. Participants from higher socio-economic status neighbourhoods were more exposed to school computers, reading, playing musical instruments, and vigorous physical activity. Participants from lower socio-economic status neighbourhoods were more exposed to TV, electronic games, mobile phones, and non-academic computer activities at home. They concluded that “in a sample with near universal access to IT, issues of a digital divide can still be evident. NSES (Neighbourhood Socio-Economic Status) clearly associated with the nature of young people’s current IT use and this may impact their future economic, academic, and health outcomes. This correlates with the previous point about having the necessary skills needed to use technology with a specific purpose, and these purposes may differ between socio-economic groups.
I do believe that Kalyn and Nataly brought up some good points to defend the intentions to provide those without technology access and skills. However, this, unfortunately, doesn’t mean equity. There are so many other factors that weigh into the concept of equity. The initiatives taken place are a starting point but there is a long way to go before technology will bring us closer to equity in the world.
Back to the two other new learnings that I further explored, UDL and SIOP.
UDL is an approach to planning and teaching to help give all students equal opportunities to succeed. It’s flexible because students have different ways to access material, engage in their work, and demonstrate their understanding of concepts in ways that work for them. It is especially helpful for kids that learn and think outside of the box.
Here are some great tips from this website to help introduce a UDL model in your classroom:
- Know your students’ strengths and weaknesses
- Use digital materials when possible
- Share content in a variety of ways
- Offer choices for how students demonstrate their knowledge
- Take advantage of software supports
- Low and No Tech options do exist
- Learn from others
This video describes how this school district has found success implementing the UDL model using Google Read/Write, which is an Chrome extension that many students I work with use. Coincidentally enough, myself and a colleague of mine gave a quick tutorial to some of our primary teachers today to show them the benefits of Google Read/Write and identified how it can be used with all students, not just your struggling ones. I guess I am already on the right path with using a UDL model.
SIOP is a research based instructional model that addresses the need our EAL learners, but I argue that it addresses the needs of all students, much like UDL works.
This website has some great tools and strategies for using this comprehensive approach.
This video demonstrates how a teachers uses this model in her third grade classroom. They are always referring back to the objective of the lesson/activity, much like the I Can… statements that my division has. I see a lot of these strategies used by some of the teachers I work with. So again, there are elements of good teaching practices that fit under these two types of models.
Both of these models help address equity in teaching and working with our learners as the diversity continues to grow. Do you know of any other methods or models that works to give tools and opportunities to all learners? I’d love to learn more!