Multicultural educational technology would be the sub-field of educational technology that studies the reciprocal effects between technology and the heritage, traditions, language, region, beliefs and behaviours of groups of people.

Although anthropologists have long appreciated variability among societies, there does not seem to be any fundamental divide between studies of technology in traditional versus industrial societies. Moreover, the same bodies of theory and method seem applicable to both.” Schiffer (2004, pp. 2-4) Traditionally anthropology studied civilizations other than our own. However, the field has since opened up to include western culture as well. I am going to focus on multicultural educational technology as it relates to minorities in the occidental world.

Technology pervades and is embedded in all human activities. “ Schiffer (2004, pp. 2-4) Technology is not just computer related. Books, lab instruments, or systems of organization are all technologies. Books, for example, are often lacking in cultural sensitivity, often portraying the viewpoint of the majority.

Anthropologists first showed that technologies are culturally constructed and socially constituted.” Schiffer (2004, pp. 2-4) Educators choose technologies to meet their needs from delivering content to supporting our students and ultimately passing on values and knowledge about our society. It’s natural for educators to use technology as it relates to their heritage, traditions, language or region even if their values do not always align with those of their students. This means choosing websites, hardware, software etc. that they are comfortable with to support teaching and learning. Not only technology is influenced by administrator, educators and governments values, but the whole public school system does not adequately support minority culture group’s needs.

Frequently there are a large amount of minorities that live in lower socio-economic areas who’s schools or parent groups can’t afford to fund different technologies. Sometimes these students come from families who don’t value technology themselves so their children don’t learn to appreciate it. Kerr cites Becker’s studies (1983) which seemed to show not only that children in poor schools (schools where a majority of the children were from low socio-economic-status family backgrounds) had fewer computers available to them but also that the activities they were typically assigned by teachers featured rote memorization via use of simple drill-and-practise program, whereas children in schools with a wealthier student base were offered opportunities to learn programming and to work with more flexible software. Could it be that a majority of parents with a lower socio-economic background lack parenting skills which results in a class with high behaviour needs? It is much harder to teach a high needs group of students in an open, flexible way.

The issue for the longer term may well be how educational technology interacts with the fundamental problem of providing not merely access, but also a lasting a valuable education, something many minority children are clearly not receiving at present.” (Kerr, 2004) It seems that many minority groups will suffer when they enter the workforce due to the lack of technology experience in schools because of low funding, differences in values with educators, and lack of family support.

Becker, H. (1983). School uses of microcomputers: Reports from a national survey. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University, Center for the Social Organization of Schools.

Kerr, S. T. (2004). Toward a sociology of educational technology. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (pp. 113-142). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Schiffer, M. B. (Ed.). (2001). Anthropological perspectives on technology. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.

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