Selwyn (2021) explores both sides of the coin with edtech as an environmental solution and an environment burden. The major concerns include our current expectation that digital resources are always on and always available, and to achieve this level of efficiency, the unsustainable amount of energy and resources required. The article urges us to consider leaner ways of tech use, recycling and refurbishing programs in schools, and adapting our digital priorities towards essential, shared, and inclusive use. However, what resources do we need to make the transition to a greener lifestyle and how many in our population can afford the switch?
With increasing integration of edtech (green or not), students are confronted with growing expectations of online learning. The advance of tech integration in schools could be a rocket shooting upwards with its most valued contents at its core. As it gains elevation, its outer pieces are left behind in its wake and only those with the ability to provide sufficient return on investment are included in the latter part of the journey. The core of the rocket that reaches its destination would be the privileged learner market (Educause, 2021). The debris left behind are the learners considered less profitable or unable to afford the experience (Educause, 2020). As a result, we are left with scenarios depicting a widening socioeconomic gap and digital divide as families struggle to optimize their lifestyles towards the latest technology, and put their children through the highest quality education they can afford (Macgilchrist et al., 2020; Singh & Maughan, 2014).
While the growing digital divide across the socioeconomic spectrum is alarming, what happens to the populations belonging to the middle income class? To save on the costs of living in residence, they may attend a local institution so they can commute to campus if their class is not offered online (Frenette, 2007). Their annual household income may place them outside the eligibility guidelines for needs-based financial aid, and if tuition rates outpace inflation rates as described in the 2020 Educause Horizon Report, how do they afford the green tech transition and what happens if they cannot?
Educause (2020, March 2). 2020 Educause Horizon Report, Teaching and Learning Edition. https://library.educause.edu/resources/2020/3/2020-educause-horizon-report-teaching-and-learning-edition
Educause (2021, April 26). 2021 Educause Horizon Report, Teaching and Learning Edition. https://library.educause.edu/resources/2021/4/2021-educause-horizon-report-teaching-and-learning-edition
Frenette, M. (2007). Why Are Youth from Lower-income Families Less Likely to Attend University? Evidence from Academic Abilities, Parental Influences, and Financial Constraints. Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11f0019m/11f0019m2007295-eng.pdf
Macgilchrist, F., Allert, H., & Bruch, A. (2020). Students and society in the 2020s. Three future ‘histories’ of education and technology. Learning, Media and Technology, 45(1), 76-89. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2019.1656235
Selwyn, N. (2021). Ed-Tech Within Limits: Anticipating educational technology in times of environmental crisis. E-Learning and Digital Media, 18(5), 496-510. https://doi.org/10.1177/20427530211022951
Singh, S. S., & Maughan, T. (2014, June 18). The future of ed tech is here, it’s just not evenly distributed. Medium. https://medium.com/futures-exchange/the-future-of-ed-tech-is-here-its-just-not-evenly-distributed-210778a423d7