OPINION: School technology needs to be more accessible

Apr 3, 2024 | OP-ED, Opinion

The growing demand for completely online post-secondary school work should be met with more resources for students who do not have immediate access to devices or the internet.

Almost all post-secondary education requires work to be completed and submitted digitally, yet there are no alternative solutions for students who may not be able to meet these requirements.

In many elementary and high schools in Canada, classes provide computers or tablets for work to be completed in class.

This method should be applied to all schooling, especially when college and university students are already paying steep tuition to attend these institutions.

Humber College Information Technology Services offers a free laptop rental for students who do not have personal devices. Other local post-secondary institutions like Toronto Metropolitan University and York University have similar programs.

These programs are a great initiative to combat accessibility issues, proving education centres are aware of the problem. Resources like these are a strong step in the right direction and should be required for schools.

It is unfair and unrealistic to expect students to complete all of their work at school or public libraries if they do not have proper technology at home.

Students have lives outside of school and being able to drop everything and visit a library is a privilege that many people may not have.

The financial aspect of technology is a major concern. Buying a device that can properly meet the needs of school software and requirements is not cheap, and can become a burden on students who cannot afford it.

A 2022 research paper on Canadian digital education discussed the continual growth of digital education in schools. The paper focuses on a survey conducted at Canadian higher education institutions to grasp how schools are dealing with online learning.

One survey respondent stated that its “current strategic plan (2018- 2023) is very much focused on increasing how and when we integrate technologies into the curriculum and classroom experiences.”

The increasing usage further urges the need to provide students with devices so they can succeed in technology-driven learning, especially outside of the classroom.

This is especially true for international college and university students. Having such diverse backgrounds of students means their financial situations dramatically vary, and not all have certain privileges.

Access and equality should be foundational in education. Restrictions on mandatory resources can lead to students’ lack of success and can cause them to fall behind or even fail assignments or courses.

If education centres are not willing to provide alternative technology solutions, such as being able to complete work by hand, then using these devices should not be a requirement.

There need to be alternate solutions to ensure that every student is getting the education they deserve.