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Airi Ohno
Instructor: Brian Ganter
English 100-15
December 2012



The Way to Use Technology for Educational Equality


Introduction

Technology dramatically affects many aspects of our life in the 21st century, and one of them is education. Because technology is now changing our life style, our reading style, our writing style, and our thinking style, learning and teaching should also change in the wake of those larger changes. Although it can be seen that there are some critical or negative opinions regarding technology, these changes are inevitable. Therefore, let’s use technology in a creative way. In particular, I expect technology to empower students in remote areas or developing countries to grasp many opportunities to learn. Students have often lost chances to learn because of their distance and poverty. However, with a simple link to an Internet line and a cheap computer, everyone can access knowledge all over the world. Technology has the possibility. In this context, technology is a democratizing and an egalitarian force.

Removal of Gaps

“(U)niversal access to high quality education is key to the building of peace, sustainable social and economic development, and intercultural dialogue”(UNESCO, 2005-2011). This is the belief of The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) regarding open educational resources (OER). There are a number of definitions for OER, the most commonly adopted one is developed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). According to the OECD (2007), OER are “digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research,” and its purpose can be equality of education (OECD 10). This principle should be shared with e-education, which is the education through the Internet for free or a low cost. Technology has been making educational equality possible. Because of distance and poverty, a lot of people have given up learning and especially given up getting a higher education in developing countries. The gap between rich and poor creates a gap of education, and, in turn, the gap of education increases the gap between rich and poor more. The way to break this vicious circle is e-education.

Critical Opinions

However there are some critical opinions about this point of view since some believe that education and learning processes are “dynamic,” “critical,” and require direct dialogue for “intense questioning of dominant assumptions and practices,” but e-education does not do (Ebert and Zavarzadeh, par 7). I am sure that this opinion is based on a biased view about the Internet and ignorance of rapid progress in technology and is written by “Digital Immigrants”(Prensky 2). Indeed, e-education can give dynamic learning through its screen even if students’ bodies are static and isolated, and even a live broadcast class and live chat are sometimes possible between teachers and students. Moreover, students in e-education are able to get a great deal of classmates all over the world who “carry on wide-ranging discussions on their own” and are using friendly competition to make one another study hard. Thus, e-education “becomes just one node of the network of social interactions” (Lewin, par 19). As a consequence, I do not agree that “(t)he existing class divisions are kept in place by the schools that use the Internet to deliver educational content to their students” (Ebert and Zavarzadeh, par 8).

Another Equality

In addition, e-education gives students who cannot keep up with class opportunities to “go back and listen over and over till they” understand (Lewin, par 21). To sum up, all students would not be failed, and “(t)he goal should be to get everybody to A+ level”(Lewin, par 21). This is also one of educational equalities for the reason that everybody is able to get the chance to understand completely.

Conclusion

For the success of e-education, I argue that there are two issues to be overcome. Firstly, especially in remote areas or developed countries, there is often the lack of appropriate infrastructure, such as broadband access and instability in electrical supplies (Willems and Bossu 193). Hence, setting in place the infrastructure is urgent business. The lack of infrastructure makes so-called the digital divide, and the digital divide relates to an involuntary exclusion from the technology society (Willems and Bossu 187). This is a chain which should be severed as well. Secondly, teachers have to change. Not all teachers, but plenty of teachers are “‘Digital Immigrants’ who were not born into the digital world”; nevertheless, teachers today have to be able to use technology well (Prensky 1). “Teachers must be involved in planning the systems, trained to use the tools they provide, and given the flexibility to revise their teaching,” and “No technology can overcome poor teaching which is actually exacerbated in distance education applications” (Bozorgmanesh 83). Besides, if students are “Digital Natives,” they are totally different from “Digital Immigrants,” teachers. The same methods that worked for the teachers when they were students will not work for their students any more. Unfortunately not students but teachers have to change because the “Digital Natives” cannot go backwards as “their brains may already be different” (Prensky 3). As matter of course, although students under e-education are required efforts such as “self-discipline”, e-education never succeeds without teachers’ devotion (Bozorgmanesh 82).

Equality of education is considered basic human rights in democratic societies. On the one hand, technology makes the equality possible; on the other hand, the technology is absolutely imperfect and still new. As a result, it is significant to know what e-education can do or cannot do and how improve it, then we should make efficient use of it.

Works Cited

Bozorgmanesh, Mehran. "Online Classes And Traditional Classes In Adult Education." Nature & Science 9.8 (2011): 81-84. Academic Search Complete. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.
Ebert, Teresa L. , and Zavarzadeh Mas'ud. “E-Education, the Opposite of Equality.” Los Angeles Times [California] 23 Mar. 2000, n.pag. Web. 19 Nov. 2012.
Lewin, Tamar. “Instruction for Masses Knocks Down Campus Walls.” New York Times on the Web 4 Mar. 2012. 27 Nov. 2012
OECD. Giving knowledge for free: The emergence of open educational resources. Paris: OECDpublishing, 2007. Print.
Prensky, Marc . "Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants." On the Horizon. 9.5 (2001): 6.Print.
UNESCO. “Open educational resources.” 2005–2011. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.
Willems, Julie, and Carina Bossu. "Equity Considerations For Open Educational Resources In The Glocalization Of Education." Distance Education 33.2 (2012): 185-199. Academic Search Complete. Web. 27 Nov. 2012.

Links

E-learning for developing countries
Stanford announces 16 online courses for fall quater