Nowadays, technology is one of the essential attributes of everyday activities while being one of the modern conveniences that enable banking transactions, information sharing, and storage. Thus, it has a vehement impact on the educational sphere since it unveils a plethora of possibilities for the learning environment, related teaching strategies, instruments, and approaches. It could be said that a primary outcome of the popularization of technology is inclusive education and the support of diversity in the classroom. For example, with the help of e-learning, students with disabilities can participate in lectures and be in contact with an e-teacher and peers (Bjekic, Obradovic, Vucetic, & Bojovic, 2014). It helps minimize social isolation and makes education available to everyone, as students do not have to be present in the classroom physically (Bjekic, et al., 2014). Simultaneously, it enhances the quality of the socialization process, and online interactions help diminish the development of deviant behavior and asocial personality.
The discussion above clearly supports my perception, and I believe that the impact of technology is mostly positive. In my opinion, the modern educational sphere has to discover this constantly emerging phenomenon and apply its best practices to enhance the learning outcomes and interactions in the classroom. It creates equal opportunities for learners with diverse cultural, ethnic, or socio-economic backgrounds and develops a technological platform to overcome learning barriers. Nonetheless, the existence of different gaps disrupts this process and negatively affects the diversity of learners in using technology while being often referred to as the digital divide (Mohamed, Judi, Nor, & Yusof, 2012). In this case, I can freely state that economic class is of higher significance than other social factors mentioned above, as purchasing the required equipment is costly and not defined by any culture.
To discover a rationale for my pre-concepts, different aspects including culture, ethnicity, and socio-economic status will be assessed in the context of the diversity of learners in employing technology. Using specific examples will assist in discovering these matters from dissimilar angles. Thus, to ensure the sufficient flow of the paper, each section will not only present real-world examples but also will attempt to deliver my understanding of the point. Blending and mixing these ideas will help discover the educational field and system profoundly. Eventually, the conclusions will be drawn to summarize novelties and changes in my opinions.
To establish a foundation for discussion, it is essential to review an interference between cultural background and the usage of technology for learning purposes. I believe that the role of this social aspect is not as strong as before, but unfortunately, this gap continues to exist. Apart from the rising importance of globalization and equality, some countries still heavily rely on cultural dogmas and values. For example, in Saudi Arabia, the educational sphere and teaching approaches are vehemently affected by Islamic beliefs and principles (Amoundi & Sulaymani, 2014). One of the specifics of this culture is the fact that a position of a woman in society is predefined, and the presence of this matter has a substantial impact on the access of technology for learning purposes to this social group. The difficulty of integrating technology in the learning process in girls’ classrooms is one of the negative consequences (Amoundi & Sulaymani, 2014). To resolve this problem, the government invests heavily in education and IT initiatives, but the success of integration is linked to the attitudes of teachers. It takes time for them to review their beliefs and change habits to support the sufficient integration of technology in the learning process. A combination of these factors clearly shows that the attitude towards different social groups related to cultural beliefs affects access to technology and limits learning opportunities for women in this case.
This matter tends to be present across different Islamic states, but in European countries and the United States of America, this situation is entirely different, as the role of culture and its values are not as strong as in Islamic countries. The concepts of equality imply that the educational sphere is developed based on the principles of tolerance and, appropriate subsidiaries are provided to learners in need and other educational institutions (David, 2015). In comparison to Saudi Arabia, women are treated differently due to the rising popularity of the feminism movement in the Western world (David, 2015).
Nonetheless, when returning to the countries, where the impact of culture is strong, the situation is entirely different. For example, in India, the stratification of the population in castes is still one of the key foundations for societal structure (Parul, 2014). This organizational system implies low social mobility, as the individuals are not able to change their positions or castes. This aspect predefines their socio-economic status and creates associated gaps in income and the digital divide. Consequently, the low castes’ groups have limited access not only to technology but also to education itself (Parul, 2014). In this instance, only representatives of the elite tend to have a right to use technology while this disparity limits the diversity of learners in using IT in India.
These examples changed my attitude. Now, I can see that culture is one of the essential definers of the diversity of learners in using technology. Nonetheless, it is not present in all countries, but mostly in states, where cultural dogmas are still of paramount importance. For example, in Western society, information technology is discovered as a critical benefit, and a group of learners is diverse. Meanwhile, in other countries such as India and Saudi Arabia, the representatives of some castes and women are excluded from this group and have restricted access to education and technology.
The concepts of ethnicity interfere with the ideas and perceptions of culture while these phenomena have to be differentiated to discover their impact in the context of diversity and technology in education. An ethnic group can be defined as the representatives of a particular culture, who share common beliefs, values, and dogmas (Ritzer & Dean, 2015). Different ethnic communities were developed due to globalization and became important constituents of modern society (Ritzer & Dean, 2015). I do not believe that the impact of ethnicity on the diversity of learners in using technology is strong, as the world is changing in a positive direction. For example, in the Western part, the government attempts to provide equal educational opportunities to everyone and cherishes it as one of the most important values (David, 2015). I can claim that it supports the integrity and diversity of learners, the rise of multiculturalism, and the different ethnic background of learners. In this instance, these aspects are discovered as the major consequences of technological advancement and the spread of the Internet.
Nonetheless, discovering some real-life cases may change my attitude. One of the examples takes place in Saudi Arabia and pertains to discrimination of Shia Muslims. Today, the rights and freedoms of this ethnic group are still oppressed in some situations (Mathiesen, 2014). For example, there are some cases when Shias are discriminated against at work while being limited to pursue some career paths (Mathiesen, 2014). This negative trend is defined by the history of the country, and it can be assumed that a similar situation incurs in the educational sphere (Mathiesen, 2014). The marginalization of this ethnic community decreases their opportunities in having access to education and the usage of technology in this context.
This example changed my perception, and, now, I recognize that conflicts related to ethnicity and religion tend to exist today. They may be unnoticed at first glance, but their impact on the diversity in using technology is immense. The presence of the situation in Saudi Arabia is one of the matters that signify it. Considering these differences in details will have a substantial impact on the quality of the provided education and will contribute to finding an efficient solution to this conflict.
Apart from the rising principles of equality and governmental commitment to the effective distribution of wealth among different layers of the population, the gaps related to income continue to enlarge. I believe that it not only creates difficulties for survival but also contributes to the limitation of educational opportunities, as students from households with a low level of income tend to have limited access to the technological side of education. Globally speaking, this idea pertains to the concept of the digital divide. Initially, its critical aim was to “eradicate poverty”, but its actual outcomes were highly questionable (Mohamed et al., 2012, p. 39). One of the most relevant examples is a digital gap in using technology for educational purposes between developed and underdeveloped countries (Mohamed et al., 2012). A critical rationale for this trend is an uneven distribution of financial resources between the representatives of different social groups.
A similar situation incurs between rural and urban areas, as there is a tremendous gap between these geographical regions for similar reasons (Mohamed et al., 2012). It remains evident that this financial disparity hurts access and quality of education, and I believe that this statement is logical. For example, apart from the fact that Malaysia was able to buffer the digital divide between rural and urban settlements, the students, who lived in villages, demonstrated a lack of information and communication technology skills due to a low level of PC ownership (Mohamed et al., 2012). I believe that this trend is rational, and I assume that it supports my perspective and demonstrates a pivotal role in the socio-economic gap in access to education.
Thus, when referring to the examples from Saudi Arabia, a substantial impact of wealth and finances on the usage of technology in the educational sphere cannot be underestimated. In this instance, the governmental authorities of the country understand its critical role and heavily invest in the development of the educational sphere, as it not only increases the overall level of literacy but also assists in sustaining the country’s social and economic development (Alrashidi & Phan, 2015). Simultaneously, the government is aware of the digital divide, and it attempts to resolve the problem by providing technological equipment and services that increase access to education and fill in this gap (Alrashidi & Phan, 2015). Nonetheless, employing this approach helps the country avoid a situation that is currently present in Malaysia and discover the advantages of this modern phenomenon. For example, one of the benefits of technology was the spread of popularity of the English language, and it contributed to the advanced learning approaches to teaching this language in Saudi Arabia (Alrashidi & Phan, 2015). This finding complies with my perspective that the impact of technology is majorly positive, as it helps enhance the educational sphere and country’s economics and encourages new trends in education such as learning English.
Overall, it could be said that this factor limits the diversity of learners in using technology while including a low percentage of the representatives from households with low socioeconomic status, rural areas, and underdeveloped countries. Nonetheless, the government attempts to change this situation by heavily investing in the educational sphere and providing technological equipment to various classes. Using these methods has a beneficial impact on the economic and social development of the country while paying attention to the rising popularity of different languages and their importance in an international context. These aspects entirely comply with my preconceptions and reveal potential ways to resolve the issue of the digital divide.
Overall, this paper helped discover the impact of different aspects such as culture, ethnicity, and class on the diversity of learners in using technology. Initially, I believed that these matters were critical while prioritizing socio-economic status as the most important one. Thus, when assessing the impact of culture, it was unveiled that in the Western world, the role of culture did not have a strong effect, and the learners’ groups were diverse due to the substantial value of tolerance. Nonetheless, in the countries such as India and Saudi Arabia, cultural dogmas were of paramount importance, and this fact created limitations to the diversity of learners in using technology. This aspect changed my perception and made me believe that classroom diversity was defined by cultural specifics. As for ethnicity, I also underestimated its role initially. However, reviewing the marginalization of Shias in Saudi Arabia helped me understand that ethnicity played a critical role, and this act of discrimination limited access of this ethnic community to education and technology simultaneously.
When discovering the role of socioeconomic status, limits access to technology due to the presence of the digital divide while technological development can be considered as the primary cause of these disparities. This gap tends to exist between underdeveloped and developed countries and urban and rural areas while entirely complying with my pre-conceptions. Nevertheless, the ability of the government to spot the problem at the beginning helps take advantage of the outcomes of technological development and, for example, increase the popularity of English in the country.
Overall, it could be said that this critical analysis of different cases helped me change my perceptions about modern society and education. Now, I understand clearly that despite globalization and multiculturalism, the issues related to access to technology and using it in the educational context continue to exist. In the end, these aspects have to be considered by policy-makers and educational professionals to improve the quality of the provided services and increase the diversity of learners in using technology.
Alrashidi, O., & Phan, H. (2015). Education context and English teaching and learning in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. English Language Teaching, 8(5), 33-44.
Amoundi, K., & Sulaymani, O. (2014). The integration of educational technology in girls’ classroom in Saudi Arabia. European Journal of Training and Development Studies, 1(2), 14-19.
Bjekic, D., Obradovic, S., Vucetic, M., & Bojovic, M. (2014). E-teacher in inclusive e-education for students with specific learning disabilities. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 128(1), 128-133.
David, M. (2015). Women and gender equality in higher education? Education Sciences, 5(1), 10-25.
Mathiesen, T. (2014). The other Saudis: Shiism, dissent and sectarianism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Mohamed, H., Judi, H., Nor, S., & Yusof, Z. (2012). Bridging digital divide: A study on ICT literacy among students in Malaysian rural areas. Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 6(7), 39-45.
Parul. (2014). Disparity in higher education: The context of scheduled castes in Indian society. International Journal of Humanities, Arts and Literature, 2(4), 35-42.
Ritzer, G., & Dean, P. (2015). Globalization: A basic text. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.