Digital technologies have the potential to reduce or exacerbate inequity

“We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run” (Amara’s law)

At least during the last ten years (roughly since the launching of the OLPC initiative world wide), several analysts tended to over rate the expectations of educational technologies in education ignoring their middle and long-term impacts. After short-term technological deployment in most of the cases providing a laptop with no connectivity, without or with only limited teacher training the impact evaluation found little or no impact of technology in education. As known, technology alone hardly can make any difference.

It is important to keep in mind that the time plays a critical factor in the assessment of the long-term impact of technology in education policies. Educational technologies can make a difference when they transform the culture (e.g. interactions, conversations, language, behaviours) not only the performance. Most of those transformations might not be visible in the outcome of the learning when are analysed using international standardized test. However, the implications can be noted measuring other factors (i.e. school climate, self-motivation of learners, the quality of teacher-students interactions, opportunities for creativity, among others). More importantly, when educational technologies are deployed addressing not only the infrastructure but the learning ecosystem in a more comprehensive way there are opportunities to reduce other forms of inequalities. In other words, expanding the learning environments (of formal and informal learning settings) there are new opportunities that should be discussed deeper. This comment, far from suggesting that digital technologies provide any kind of silver bullet for education, they can become enabler platforms only when there is enough time, active participation of the community and flexibility to transform the culture of learning.

 

Hopefully, this report presented last year at MIT of large-scale innovation in K-12 could be helpful.