Former National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel repeated Mann’s words and refined them for the 21st century, saying, ““Education is the great equalizer…we must be committed to providing education equity and resources all students need to succeed. It is unacceptable to allow inadequate and inequitable distribution of resources to many predominately minority schools. The lack of resources fuels the disparities” (2010). The most glaring lack of resources Van Roekel refers to are technological in nature. The use of technology in schools is a powerful tool for change, particularly in schools that serve minority populations. The Public Policy Institute of California (2013) indicates that Internet access among Latino subgroups still lags behind the access rates of other ethnic groups. This means that the digital divide affects most of the students where I teach, and many teachers believe that that the fewer opportunities students have to utilize technology, the less likely they are to enter computer-related fields (Roblyer, 2016).
The goal of educational technology is to level the playing field among students so that they may become productive members of society. Ensuring access not only to the technology itself, but also to skilled technology instruction, can transform the future of a generation. Through access and instruction, we build agency. The more students feel empowered to learn, share, and create, the more they are able to achieve.
Perhaps the foremost reason for the equitable integration of technology is the desire for students to become creators of original content. At its heart, the integration of educational technology is a tool for social constructivism. Rather than passively consuming content that is published to the web via YouTube or social media, students must be given the opportunity to share their own voices. Through writing, producing, and publishing digital artifacts of their learning, students are able to connect with others across the globe. This can broaden their perspectives and provide an authentic audience for learning.
By integrating technology into the curriculum, teachers can also give students the opportunity to develop information literacy skills. Being able to discern between credible sources and unreliable ones can have a major impact on how individuals access information. Living in the age of Google means that students must become equipped to deal with the massive amounts of information (and misinformation) available to them at the click of a browser tab. In addition, students must build an understanding of digital citizenship. Knowing how to be safe and productive in an online environment is crucial. The purposeful integration of technology across the curriculum is the key to ensuring the future success of our students.