Consequences of Educational Technology on Social Inequality

Tawfik, A. a., Reeves, T., & Stich, A. (2016). Intended and Unintended Consequences of Educational Technology on Social Inequality. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning60(6), 598-605.

This article explores the issues of social inequity, in educational access and opportunity, impacted by educational technology. This impact, intentional or unintentional, is examined through research review. Technology is found to enhance learning for students, but it may also be widening the digital divide as studies show the lack of access and support is great for underserved students.

The authors address three areas of concern, access to early education, access to higher education, and access to educational opportunities. Studies are reviewed which present many programs that have been implemented to address social inequity at various levels of education. These programs, from Head Start for pre-kindergarten level to advising and mentoring of students preparing for higher education institutions, all show promising results for many students. However, many studies are still reporting gaps in achievement for students from underserved backgrounds. Argument is made that many do not have access to internet service, nor are they receiving opportunities in school to access and use technology. Teachers in many rural districts with large populations of disadvantaged students are not given opportunity for training to best implement the technology in their classrooms. The authors suggest that the field of educational technology and its researchers be more aware of possible consequences on social inequality.

Social inequity has been a concern in education for decades. As researchers we should be mindful of possible consequences on inequities when we look at all studies. The implementation of findings and theories will not have generalization if we are blind to this issue. More research should be conducted to determine the optimal model and methods for achieving equity with educational technology.




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