OVA and Techquity for All
Over the last three months, I have had an awakening that has transformed my teaching career in ways that I’ve never imagined. In December, I was invited by Jennie Magiera to participate in the Our Voice Academy (OVA). The purpose of this academy was to provide access, visibility, and leadership to teachers of color on the EdTech stage. At first, I had no idea why Jennie chose me because I am just a “classroom teacher”, how can I be worthy to speak on the EdTech stage? At OVA, I had the opportunity to meet some amazing educators of color from across the country. At this moment, I was starting to learn that the number of minority educators involved in the EdTech arena was limited and in some cases non-existent. During this weekend, there was one educator that caused me to reflect about my purpose in education. Ken Shelton is an EdTech expert and a huge advocate for equity in education. The knowledge and passion with which he was able to use his voice to bring awareness to issues regarding equity in education, gave me a path to aspire to.
After OVA ended, I began to realize the importance and impact sharing my story could have on educators and their students. At the EdTechTeam Des Plaines Winter Summit, I gave my first keynote and it was one of the most exhilarating moments in my educational career. This opportunity afforded me both access, visibility, and the platform to share my story and topics that I am passionate about in the field of education.
At the Illinois Computing Educators (ICE) Conference, I sat in Ken Shelton’s breakout session where I was introduced to a new word: techquity. Shelton referred to techquity as, “the use of merging educational technologies with culturally responsive learning experiences to help students develop essential skills.” In 2018, we still have schools that do not have equal access to technology and all the research points out that the best way to close an achievement gap is equal access and appropriate implementation of technology that aligns with the 6 themes of culturally relevant education (engagement, relationships, rigor, asset-focused factors, vulnerability, and cultural identity). It is a crime that we have some schools that are built like colleges and other schools that are built like prisons. Is this equitable? How does a society allow for this to happen? Once a school has the technology, are they using it to create lessons that focus on the 4 C’s (collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication) or is it a digital worksheet? If the technology is not improving pedagogy and space for students to be both creative and innovative, while demonstrating mastery, then it is a useless tool.
In conclusion, OVA has added a new perspective on educational technology and thanks to Jennie Magiera, Ken Shelton, Sarah Thomas, Monica Martinez, and the EdTechTeam, I am ready to take my message on the road and continue to complete my life mission: techquity for all!
Terence White is a 7th-grade science teacher at Still Middle School in Aurora, IL. He is a Google Certified Educator Level 2 educator and loves to spread his passion of EdTech onto others. In addition, he is a believer that technology should be used to increase engagement for students of all learning abilities and backgrounds. Terence can be reached on Twitter @terencewhite23 or email at terence_wh[email protected]