The school I am completing my clinical teaching residency at is considered a ‘one to one’ campus – where all students have a laptop assigned to them (that they are required to bring to class everyday). Students having universal access to technology is an incredible benefit – specifically as it relates to our English class. In this context specifically, access to technology allows for a great deal of flexibility in how we structure the curriculum to best promote learning. Making technology accessible to each one of our students at the campus also removes potential barriers for students that may not otherwise have technology readily available to them outside of the school setting.
While technology is certainly an asset, I have witnessed that there are some major learning gaps pertaining to the students properly using technology. For example, many students struggle with rather elementary computer (usage) concepts and functions such as typing and keyboard navigation. Gaps such as these are obviously not the fault of the student – and shine light onto larger systemic inequities between “those who have” and “those that do not.” Laptops (and other technologies) are useful tools, but if students are using them inefficiently and teachers are not taking the time to teach these vital skills to students – key lesson concepts are lost.
This all raises an important question: As educators, how can we ensure that we are not only providing students access to technology (and other opportunities), but also ensuring that students have the opportunity to develop the skills that are needed to optimally use technology – and subsequently use it to further their exploration of content.
As an aspiring English teacher I want my students to get ‘lost’ in their writing and struggle with concepts such as strong character development, beginning stories with strong leads, and mastering persuasive writing. Technology can certainly help my students enhance these skills, but I want to ensure that these real opportunity gaps do no create unnecessary roadblocks in their journey towards becoming expressive young authors.