At the provincial level, the Ministry of Education within the Government of Saskatchewan recognized the need for allowing all of our students to become digitally competent citizens. The Millenials that consume our classrooms each day are digital natives, just because they have been born into this era does not necessarily mean that they know how to properly or safely use the vastness that is this technology.
The Technology in Education Framework states that “not only is technology vital the learner…it allows for creativity, flexibility and allows for a greater reach in educational opportunities” (p1). I have chosen to focus this units blog on the view that our provincial stakeholders took at using digital technology to enhance equity in learning for all in Saskatchewan. How can technology allow for this to happen? Just as Dylan stated in his blog, growing up in a larger center can cause one to wear blinders, not realizing that not everyone had access to the internet or computers in their schools – or even being in a larger center being forced to only take the courses offered at your school when you could have been taking courses offered at the DLC (understanding there is a financial undertaking here too, which may further resect some out).
Personally, I am a huge proponent of using technology in the classroom to enhance lessons. In fact, I have gone away from using textbooks in my classes entirely. Technology has the ability to allow for learning for all, students can be working on multiple levels at the same time. But, using technology in the classroom also means that I am responsible for teaching the appropriate use of student-based technology. Just because these Millenials have the world at their fingertips, does not necessarily mean that they know how to use it safely and in an acceptable manner. Should educators have to shoulder this responsibility entirely? NO. There needs to be some responsibility with their parents/guardians too. However, considering that our students are spending the majority of their waking hours in school, we have a responsibility to do our part if we are expecting our students to use technology in our systems.
I realize that not all schools are equipped with enough computers for all students, therefore our students are using their own cell phones for classes. By allowing students to use their own devices, we are inviting in distractions which have to be managed. Great – yet another thing for our classroom teachers to try to manage. Or is it? I caution those who are quick to complain about this. Recently Ontario has decided to ban cell phones in classes beginning at the start of the 2019-2020 school year. I am curious how this will pan out. I understand that concern about the distractions, but a student can be just as distracted while on a laptop as they can be on a phone. I understand that they are faster on their phones with the distractions, however, distractions are always there. I am concerned that this ban will narrow the educational experience to those in remote areas who do not have access to technology that those in larger centers do. My other concern with this is: What if it pans out well, although Saskatchewan believes that technology enhances equity and learning for all, will we follow suit and ban cell phones in our classrooms? Will this then become inequitable for remote areas? How will our classrooms adjust to still function within the government mandates?