To Be or Not To Be Connected? Is Technology Needed To Be Educated?

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When reflecting on recent readings for my International & Global Distance Education course, the theme of providing education for all (Bates, 2013) and the need technology (specifically, Internet access) in developing and underserved countries caught my attention. While the shift to remodel learning environments and equipping them with modern technology; therefore spawning new and innovative teaching methods seem as logical solutions for those living in a modern society (Gulati, 2008), I have become conflicted with the notion that our biases and presumed need for global access to a connected world is necessary to provide education for all. I agree the use of technology can produce positive outcomes such as creative learning and efficient productivity, access to an abundance of web tools and information etc…. However, what good is a connected world without affordable access to technology that enables others to become connected and participate? What benefits does a connected infrastructure provide to people who cannot afford the devices to connect? What benefit is a connected device if the user is unable to operate the device or maintain it? Could the idea of establishing a globally connected world without providing affordability, opportunity and access to contextually appropriate information for the people increase the educational divide within developing countries and underserved societies?

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I’ve been wrestling with what the term ‘education’ means to those who provide it versus those who receive it. Are we educating or indoctrinating others to adopt our ways of learning, producing and innovating through the use of technology? With these biases of a connected tech savvy utopia, I wonder what other biases and influences will be passed on to societies with differences in culture, language, economy, etc…? How will these biases and influences affect what is learned? What will the side effects of online or tech-based learning produce in the future? Will this form of connected education sustain a population’s current cultural identity alongside the information delivered through the use of tech-based education? How would that conformity change a cultures perspectives on innovation and alter their creative ingenuity that their cultural identity has provided the world to date? To presume that education and the models that deliver knowledge is a one-size-fits-all approach is to assume that education processes like the very machine that we believe will provide education for all and improve learning. Education is not as absolute as an algorithm. If so, It possesses many if and then statements with infinite loops.

There are so many complex factors (other than providing broadband internet) involved in order to provide education for all and improve learning in developing countries and underserved populations. I hope to discover and contextualize these factors upon further research as I move forward into our future readings and discussions.

References

Anon – Not Sure If (2016). I2.kym-cdn.com. Retrieved from http://i2.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/437/437/a19.png

Bates, T. (2013 June 23).  MIT, learning technologies, and developing countries: lessons in technology transfer.

bmo GIF – bmo AdventureTime anxious GIFs. (2016). Tenor. Retrieved from https://www.tenor.co/view/bmo-adventuretime-anxious-nervous-scared-gif-3561125

Gulati, S. (2008). Technology-enhanced learning in developing nations: A review. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 9(1).

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