This week, I tried to make 5 connections that challenged me to either continue thinking or think differently about equity in connected learning.
- I want to start this off really outside of the box with an in-person resource. Increasingly, I have run into obstacles of accessibility in study abroad. In these terms, I am defining connected learning as being engaged and connected to the greater world outside of the country. Sometimes universities will define accessible as, well, all students can participate on a study abroad program, which is true. Anyone with the money, physical ability, knowledge of the process, medical support, psychological support, academic ability, and time can indeed study abroad. However, the reality is, that the study abroad process is not an equitable experience. Most recently, I had a student who utilizes a pigeon American Sign Language (aka not standard ASL). In order for this student to participate in study abroad, they will need two interpreters. To work on making study abroad not only accessible but equitable so that the student does not have to foot the bill (which would make this experience prohibitive), I have been working with the learning resource center and the student to petition for additional funds to support this student’s experience. Sometimes, the best resources are the people with the necessary expertise on your campus!
- I wanted to understand more about how the US and specifically my area (Philadelphia) measured up. Increasingly, my institution of higher education is seeking to have our student population reflect the general population of our area but what we are discovering is that we do not have the resources to support these student who are coming mostly from low-income areas. This is resulting in higher levels of academic probation and dismissal from the university. So I sought out statistics from the Education Equality Index (I know, Equality and not Equity but it is a start), to gain a better understanding of general background.
- Criticism is not always the easiest thing to swallow, though feedback (even criticism) is necessary for progress. Though sometimes, taking a meta-approach helps to take the emotion from things. I did this by turning to Australia in the article Equality in education – what does that mean? This article, I thought, did a good job of looking at reasons for the achievement gap other than economic status, mainly the language difference. It is also helpful to know what others have tried and how it has or has not worked.
- This next one may feel like it is a bit out of left field but it is something I am re-connecting with. The Privilege Walk is an activity not to be entered into lightly or with an unfamiliar group. This is an activity, for those of you who have not engaged with it, that is highly sensitive and where participants are asked to disclose some very revealing information about their background. I put this activity forward as a way to challenge myself to think more intentionally about equity because this activity has a way of revealing to you, quite literally, where you fall on the proverbial “playing field.” It is scary and eye-opening and in my experience, has encouraged more empathy during conversations of equity vs. equality.
- Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) is a “non-partisan and non-profit leadership development organization.” Its vision is education equity and it strives to do this by empowering classroom leaders. This is an interesting organization but I was particularly drawn in by their LEE Facebook page, where they post talks, important news to the movement, and resources like Teach Students To Use Social Media (The Right Way) And The Possibilities Are Endless. I chose to include this because of the network/community that is available.