Redefining Equity: Meaningful Uses of Technology in Learning Environments

Jan. 7, 2002


Robbin Chapman, Leo Burd


Digital technologies are a potential tool for transforming how we go about learning in deeply meaningful ways. For this reason, it is important that all learners have equal access to these tools. Equitable access is necessary but not sufficient in of itself to ensure comparable benefits from using digital technologies. Therefore, any socially responsible understanding of the role of technology in learning must exceed this limited notion of access to include meaningful use of technology in the learning process. Our discussion with regards to digital technologies requires a refinement of the term equity. Generally, from the perspective of those working to bridge the Digital Divide, equity implies fair access to and operational knowledge of technology. The Digital Divide is a manifestation of social inequities which results in limited or denied access to digital resources. Tackling the problems of limited availability of technology is obviously a necessary and important factor in reducing the Digital Divide. Physical access is a perquisite to any hope of meaningful use, so we first examine factors that inhibit such access. Focusing an equity lens on educational technologies, leads us to question whether equal access to educational technologies,1 in of itself, will benefit all learners.

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