Skip to main content

Technology: a Blessing with Responsibility

Technology: a Blessing with Responsibility
Each day, we see students as young as elementary school age weaving through schools with cell phones in their hands. They check text messages and social media more fluidly than many of their parents. Tweeting, snap chatting, instagramming…they do it all.
If we take only a quick look at the technology picture around us, we can be fooled by what it means. One perspective is that every student holds a cellular key to the world in his or her hand or pocket. Is it true though? Why is it important to even ask?
I was recently confronted by this question in a new way. Why? It’s partially due to the ongoing thrust of technology and the encouragement to use it across education.
Each week I stumble upon new apps or websites that could enhance learning or teaching in some way. Some offer promise in my classroom; others present solutions to students.
In as far as I appreciate this, I am forced to take pause for thought. Do the many hours of digital content creation benefit all students?  Do all students have equal access to the content? Am I somehow blocking out or marginalizing certain students as I increase the volume of digital content? Am I unwittingly supporting the creation of a culture of haves and have-nots?
I think that it is important to consider these questions for the benefit of my students. Quickly asking my classes about their access to technology one day, I learned that at least 2 students in each class have no cell phone and that another 2-4 lack smartphone access. Many of those who own phones have very limited data plans. Furthermore, each class is represented by at least one person who has no internet access at all, not even at home.
A quick and plausibly helpful response to this question is to point out the access to school and public library computers. Thoughtful as the thought may be, a challenge arises when we think this way. If I ask students to use their lunch time in the library, and their evening time at a local library, I am, in a manner of thinking, penalizing them. Not having internet access at home consigns them to study in a specific place and in a specific timeframe, which may not be possible. May I presume that my students’ lives match up with library hours? Do all students have transportation to a local library? Am I necessarily the only teacher asking students to work online? Will the 30 minutes of allowed internet computer time at the public library suffice for the work assigned? Do we unintentionally grant educational partiality to the students who have easy access to the electronic tools that we use or build? 
James 2:1 reminds us to, “…show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ…”
These thoughts challenge me as a teacher and as a parent who fully supports the creation of digital learning materials. Access to quality learning can go a long way toward leveling the educational playing field and help slower learners. Giving students around-the-clock access to reviews and practice components is a beautiful gift that a teacher can offer. 
Nonetheless, I would challenge fellow teachers(and continue challenging myself) to spend some time considering how we can guarantee equal access to necessary learning and offer all of our students equal space for their education, all the while supporting each student in our classes and avoiding unintentional partiality.
I invite you to respond to this blogpost and join the conversation.
Please visit my website at:


Popular posts from this blog

Where are they coming from and where are they going?

The new school year has begun(a new season), and like many other teachers, I have come out of a summer planning period of imagining where I would like to see my students in several months, if not in two to three years.  As I planned, I saw specific students in my mind.  I wondered how they were experiencing life the past months and where they will be emotionally and academically.  Looking to the end, or at some projected point out in the future, I worked through the content of my teaching to try and prepare the groundwork for the next year.  It required reflection on the previous year, understanding of the students who would be coming to my class and creativity. 

None of this comes as a surprise.  In fact, teaching is only one of many professions that calls for this type of activity.  Business, medicine, law, psychology, etcetera call the professional to look back and look forward to preparing. 

While preparing, though, a theme from Genesis 16:8 (ESV) came to mind.  When Hagar had run f…


“Mr. Pickerd, I just can’t do today!”
These words fainted out of her mouth as she drooped there in front of me.
“What on earth is wrong?” I asked.

This proved to be the right or wrong question at the wrong or right time…I couldn’t tell quite yet, because what poured out for the following minute or two became a litany of stressors in the life of this young student: test here, practice over there, paper due then, work in the meantime… The list continued. She felt driven to the point of confusion, of disarray, and was no longer able to focus on the moment.

My teacher (and more so my parent) heart wanted to sit her down and help her decide which of the too many activities was or were pressing her beyond her limits, but that wasn’t what she wanted. Time to put away the toolbox. She needed to lay it all out and be heard, nothing more at the time.

If this were an isolated situation, I might be able to chalk it up to a student who has opted to take on too much. That is not the case, though. …

Water, Tea, and a Spot of Time

Life seems full of coincidences.  We run into people just after we think about them.  We hear a song in our heads and shortly thereafter hear it on the radio. Sooner or later; though, what seems at first to be coincidence actually proves to have more purpose.  
Here’s an example…  I recently read the story in John 4 where Jesus was tired on a journey.  Being near Jacob’s well, he stopped for a while to refresh himself with a drink of water.  What came as a result of this water stop was a conversation with a Samaritan woman at that well.
Coincidence? Perhaps, but what came as a result of the conversation was life.  The words exchanged there were nothing less than an example of hospitality, love, care, and a model for us to follow.
Just a few days after reading this passage, I was blessed by an encounter with a student while I was on my way to fill my water bottle.  This student didn’t have the life matters of the woman at the well, but life was indeed weighing her down heavily.  She too was…