How can you ensure equitable access to authentic, meaningful & relevant learning environments for all learners in K-12 open and distributed learning contexts?
Equity Definition: Equity in education is often viewed as equivalence or sameness. In school education, an ‘equitable’ system could be defined as one in which all students are treated equally – for example, a system in which all students are given the same opportunities, exposed to the same school curriculum, taught by teachers with equivalent expertise, held to the same learning expectations and provided with equivalent levels of resourcing and support. (Masters, 2018)
Creating an equitable and positive learning environment for all students in an open and distributed learning context is ‘in the hands’ of the teacher. It is beyond important that each student is treated the exact same as other students and in a classroom setting, they all get the resources and help that they need to succeed. Therefore, “it is important [as a teacher] of having heightened awareness of the inequalities implicit in online education” (Selwyn, 2020). These inequalities can vary from technology failing, each student has different access to technology, and the students’ ‘home life’.
As a teacher, there are dozens of things to do to make sure that all of your students have equitable access to authentic, meaningful & relevant learning environments. In my opinion, these are some of the most important from our course readings:
- As a teacher, you need to give or find every student the support they need to succeed! This is what defines an equitable classroom in my opinion.
- “timings need to be flexible” (Sewlyn, 2020) because teachers cannot expect students to be doing the same things online at home as they might be reasonably doing online at school. Adding on, the teacher can be unaware of issues going on at home.
- “alternate options need to be available for working offline” (Sewlyn, 2020)
- “teaching needs to be designed to fit around the complex needs of different students” (Sewlyn, 2020) because, as mentioned in our project, teaching 30 students one way with the same material, does not work.
- “teachers need to display high levels of digital empathy, care, and compassion towards students” (Sewlyn, 2020). This means making sure that every student feels a part of the classroom community and making sure that learning is fun, creative, and informative.
- Doing the research and find the time to create valuable resources that will enrich student learning
- Provide educational materials in different modes of learning
- “include the Universal Design for Learning into your online class” (Basham & Blackorby & Zhang, 2018, p. 477)
One very interesting piece of information that I took away from our readings was the design principle. I really like how there are so many design principles, the designs are super cool and fun, and it gave me lots of ideas for my future classroom. These design principles are: (Kral & Schwab, 2012, p.58)
- A space young people control
- A space for hanging out and mucking around
- A space where learners learn
- A space to grow into new roles and responsibilities
- A space to practice oral and written language
- A space to express self and cultural identity through multimodal forms
- A space to develop and engage in enterprise
- A space to engage with the world
Although ultimately it is your decision as a teacher how to create a learning environment, I think all of these bring value and importance to a student’s way of learning about themselves and the world around them in a respectful way. This entire blog post is a resource I will look back on when I get my own open and distributed class it ensures equitable access to authentic, meaningful & relevant learning environments for all learners.
This is a very interesting webinar that I found on the impact of COVID on K-12 education and adults discuss the implications for equity in online learning. The beginning of the video has different panelists to discuss what equity means to them.
Basham, J.D., Blackorby, J., Stahl, S. & Zhang, L. (2018) Universal Design for Learning Because Students are (the) Variable. In R. Ferdig & K. Kennedy (Eds.), Handbook of research on K-12 online and blended learning (pp. 477-507). Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon University ETC Press.Masters, G. (2018, April 30)
Kral, I. & Schwab, R.G. (2012). Chapter 4: Design Principles for Indigenous Learning Spaces. Safe Learning Spaces. Youth, Literacy and New Media in Remote Indigenous Australia. ANU Press .http://doi.org/10.22459/LS.08.2012 Retrieved from: https://press.anu.edu.au/publications/learning-spaces %EF%BB%B
Selwyn. N. (2020). Online learning: Rethinking teachers’ ‘digital competence’ in light of COVID-19. [Weblog].
What is ‘equity’ in education? Retrieved from https://www.teachermagazine.com.au/columnists/geoff-masters/what-is-equity-in-education