I came across this article this week and it started me thinking about when technology use crosses the line to becoming an enhancement. As a forty something, I remember not being allowed a calculator in a maths test because calculators were seen as an “enhancement” and not fair on those using their own ability. These days, however, the school provides calculators for use in exams. So are they now seen as tools and no longer an enhancement or something which belittles ability? Or are we now used to these tools and what they allow us to do that we now expect more and therefore the tools have become essential?
As someone with a learning disability, I have heard a lot about “equalising” opportunities, in other words using tools or behaviours to give someone with a disability an equal chance to those without. For me this means I wear coloured glasses or use coloured filters to help me read but could this also be viewed as benefiting from technology and not getting by on my own skills or abilities? With me, it’s a bit more subtle than a paralympic runner wearing blades. Clearly, they would not be able to compete and in some cases even run without the aid of technology so I’m hesitant to accept this technology labeled as an enhancement but if we take this same concept into the classroom, one student with access to an iPad during class and another without. The student with the iPad would clearly have an advantage if they could search the internet, electronic libraries etc to access information where the other student didn’t have access to anything other than their own memory and notes.