Reflection on the Privilege of Education Technology

Last September, NBC News visited Archbishop Mitty High School, a private Roman Catholic institution in San Jose, CA to learn more about the school’s extensive use of computer and tablet technology. As you’ll see in the video below, students and teachers spend much of their time in front of tablets and computer screens.

NBC News correspondents Sevil Omer and Devin Coldewey reported that the school has received funding to issue even more iPads to its 1,600 students for use at school and home.

“Naturally, cost was identified as the primary limiting factor, more than learning to use the new tools or any shortcomings in the tools themselves,” Omer and Coldewey wrote. “And not surprisingly, teachers who taught in high-income areas found the administration, board and parents more supportive of technology.”

The video features students and teachers experiencing education in a beautiful facility and learning with the latest technology. It is easy to reflect on how cost is a limiting factor for many schools, and how most are not as fortunate as Archbishop Mitty appears to be. While Archbishop Mitty should certainly not be criticized for using the resources its endowment and community support allows it to purchase, it is worth examining the options that less-fortunate schools can pursue.

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How can lower income schools obtain more technology and get in the spotlight of a major news outlet like NBC? I came across a wonderful blog named Teaching Like It’s 2999 written by Jennie Magiera, a digital learning coordinator for a network of 25 Chicago public schools. Most lower-income Chicago schools simply don’t have the most resources in terms of basic education, much less tech-based education. So how did Magiera obtain 32 iPads in her classroom last year? She wrote a grant request to the Chicago Public Schools Office of Information Technology Services and won. Afterward she posted her recommendations on who to contact for grants and what other tactics educators can use to secure technology resources.

Of course, for many schools, it will take more than simply asking politely to get what they want. The education technology revolution won’t happen overnight. iPads, Chromebooks, Macbook Airs and all the latest and greatest gadgets won’t find their way into every student’s hands any time soon. But schools should continue their grant requests, foundations should continue their support, and companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google should continue their donations until such a time when access to the latest technology is not only a privilege enjoyed by high-income institutions.

Is it a far-fetched dream to envision this future? There will likely always be a divide between the “have” schools and the “have-not” schools, but the success of Jennie Magiera and other educators in low-income areas who manage to provide technology for their students bring us a few steps closer to making the dream a reality.

  • umbrarchist

    I am typing this on a Google Nexus 7 right now. What is wrong with it is that it does not have a TF card slot for a microSD. But something like the ONDA v711 should be $125 now and under $100 soon. It ain’t the hardware technology it’s what you load on it.

    Find OMNILINGUAL by H. Beam Piper

  • Rebecca

    Brent, I suppose it is possible to provide some have-nots with technology and I am not a quitter but, we must admit business need to step up their game in providing more grants to fight over. It all comes down to fighting for resources for those underprivileged communities. Thanks for the insight and inspiration. That is one very lucky Catholic School! I hope their love of charity kicks in and they partner with the have-nots.

    • Brent Hannify

      Thanks for reading, Rebecca! I agree that businesses need to do more, and I would also submit that the federal government should step up to the plate and offer education technology solutions. But perhaps they should focus on increasing general funding first, huh?