At last Thursday’s UMN-FLACSO co-seminar, several Latin American students posed questions regarding inequities in education that might emerge due to limited access to cutting-edge technologies:
- How do you deal with (social) exclusion, when you talk about partnering with technology?
- How do you counterweight lack of creativity among slow adopters of technology?
Slow adopters or those with limited access to technologies have no option but to use existing technologies in new and creative ways. The creative use of technologies in new contexts –even if the technologies are obsolete—can help create new social situations and opportunities. An example of a creative use of old technologies occurred during our conversation on this topic last week when the computer that interfaced with the Polycom VoiceStation 500 that was supposed to provide for an outstanding conferencing experience in the co-seminar refused to boot. We instead had to rely on a single computer and a small webcam with an even smaller microphone to facilitate our conference. The technology that held it all in place: a paper cup.
In this experience, our Latin American partners had vastly superior conferencing technologies available to them for the co-seminar. With a small webcam and a paper cup, we were able to approximately level the playing field.
OK – perhaps this isn’t the best example, but you get my point, right?