This was a very interesting, and somehow perfect debate to end our classes with. Before class, I watched this video that Alec shared on the weekly schedule:
Daphne Koller, a professor at Stanford University, begins her discussion by raising some very startling points. She told the story of a mother in South Africa that was stampeded while standing in line to register her child for university. She talked of college tuition in the U.S. rising 559% since 1985 (the year I was born). In my lifetime, the cost of tuition has risen at a rate that now makes education impossible to afford for most families. These alarming facts led into the main topic of her conversation: free quality post-secondary education.
Daphne co-founded Coursera which allows professors to offer online university courses to anybody in the world. In it’s early phases, they had they were already offering 43 courses from 4 different universities. She explained how this met the needs of people like Ryan, a father who’s daughter has an immune disease and makes it too risky to leave his home. He was able to take classes online without risking his daughter’s health. She explains,
When you move away from the physical constraints of a classroom and design content explicitly for an online format […] this allows us to break away from the one-size-fits-all equation and allows students to follow a much more personalized curriculum. – Daphne Koller
Daphne explains that if we could offer top quality education for free to everyone around the world it would do three things:
- Establish education as a fundamental human right
- It would enable lifelong learning
- It would enable a wave of innovation and “Maybe the next Albert Einstein or the next Steve Jobs is living in a remote village in Africa” – Daphne Koller
After watching this video, I felt very strongly that YES, I agree, technology is a force for equity. Technology has been called a
I was almost feeling confident FOR Team Agree going into the debate. In my head, I was thinking “Yes! Jen, Dawn, and Sapna, you’ve got this in the bag!” and they came out very strong with their opening statement. Little did I know, that Rakan and Amy were out for blood! Dannnnnnnng. They made some really excellent points in their opening statement. So, there I was, once again, dazed and confused about where I stood in the weekly debate. As someone incredible passionate about social justice issues, I could not deny that Team Disagree was swaying my opinion. I decided that I needed to explore this topic further so that I could have a more well-rounded view of the issue. I found that Benetech made an excellence argument towards the inequitable side of technology stating,
“In the rush to get market share and to guarantee return on investment, we see too many technologies that leave too many students behind—particularly students with disabilities, who could perhaps benefit most from technological innovation. For example, popular software features such as drag-and-drop interfaces and 3D animations are often inaccessible to students with disabilities. “We’ll include accessibility in the next version,” is a statement we hear all too often. Yet, given the cost to retrofit accessibility, that is a no-win proposition.” (2015)
In regards to whether technology is or can be a force for equity within our classrooms, Daniel restated four excellent questions to ask yourself when it comes to technology in education: 1) What does it do? 2) Is that a good thing to do? 3) What does it cost? and 4)What do people think about this?
Although the arguments that Rakan and Amy provided do in fact make me question how technology is in fact perpetuating things like racism and sexism, and can definitely be used as an inequitable force to separate us, I believe that we can take this knowledge and truly change it to become an equitable force that brings us together.