Photo by Cindy Cui

Is technology a requirement or luxury in higher education?

By: Kayla Freeman, Contributor

University is an environment that can foster personal and educational growth. Many students rely on technology in order to support their academic success. However, some students do not have access to the necessary technology and this can pose barriers to them.

With the influx of students using laptops, tablets and/or other technology devices, many professors have kept up with this trend by using online services in class. Some examples of this are Kahoot, TopHat and AvenueToLearn. Moreover, many professors speak at a speed that is nearly impossible to keep up with through pen and paper note-taking, instead of posting their slides online so that students can follow along.

Photo by Cindy Cui

The problem with a reliance on technology is that those who cannot afford the newest technological devices may feel a sense of shame or isolation from those who can. The segregation between those who have access to technology or even wifi creates a disadvantaged environment for those who cannot afford it. This is called the digital divide. The digital divide can help us understand the hardship that those without access to adequate technology, software or internet experience on a daily basis.

The digital divide often targets marginalized and rural communities.

The digital divide often targets marginalized and rural communities.

It is important to shed light on these issues and speak for those that do not have a voice of their own. Additionally, the digital divide perpetuates the cycle of poverty by depriving many from achieving their full potential as they are unable to access online websites to access information related to education, employment or other crucial topics.

In school, especially university, technology is often a hefty expense. Even though it can be academically disadvantageous not to possess a laptop, it is also not economically feasible for many students. Many students cannot afford to buy laptops in “less-developed” countries. Even in Canada, the technological divide negatively impacts the quality of education.

As the costs of university seem to be ever-growing, government aid such as the Ontario Student Assistance Program is a necessity for many students. Since the Ford government made cuts to OSAP, many students are being left with much less financial assistance than in previous years.

Arguably, the OSAP cuts are disproportionately affecting lower-income students, many of whom may not be able to pursue post-secondary education without aid. It seems as if we are moving towards an era that relies heavily on technology in educational institutions, without taking into consideration the financial strain this will pose on those in higher education. Rather than cutting government funding, there should be increased financial support for students to go paperless, thereby helping students use technology to aid their studies.

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