Ensure digital learning is equitable for all students by cultivating a culturally responsive learning environment with consideration for the neurodiversity of students and access to internet and devices.
Digital learning can help reduce inequities between students, but digital learning can also perpetuate and exacerbate existing inequities and make schooling more difficult for those who are already marginalized within schooling systems. Especially when digital learning occurs at home, there is a need to address the homework gap for students who do not have access to devices and reliable internet. Leaders should also be especially cognizant of how digital learning affects students with individualized education programs (IEPs) and 504 plans as well as English language learners (ELLs).
When digital learning occurs at home, schools, districts, and communities must ensure that every student has access to devices and reliable internet. There are many ways to do so, but district and school leaders should also do what they can to advocate for sustainable digital access for all families. This can be accomplished through:
Digital learning can be a powerful tool for helping to meet the needs of neurodiverse students, but the barriers to access that accompany digital learning for some learners, particularly those with IEPs or 504 plans, should be carefully considered. Schools, families, and communities must partner to engage students with disabilities in effective digital learning experiences.
To meet the needs of students with disabilities, districts and schools should:
To meet the needs of English language learners, districts and schools should:
Race, social class, gender, language, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, ability, and other social forces can worsen inequalities faced by students, especially with regards to access to resources, opportunities, and power within the education system. These inequalities can be further exacerbated by the move to digital learning. Considerations should be made to acknowledge and overcome these inequalities and treat students’ sociocultural differences as assets for their learning.
Many of the same considerations that promote culturally responsive and sustaining education apply to digital learning environments, but some additional considerations should be made for this specific environment. The digital learning leadership team as well as other leaders and teachers in the district or school should be educated about culturally responsive and sustaining education specifically in digital environments.
As you plan for digital learning:
Digital learning allows for and encourages flexibility. Rather than attempting to adapt traditional learning into the digital space, devise ways to disrupt inequalities in education through digital learning and create a more just educational system for students. This can include adapting with students rather than punishing students if they are unable to maintain traditional learning structures in a new environment.
Finally, when digital learning is happening at home, reconsider who the teacher is and the learning that students are doing. Even when students are not in the school building, they are learning and have many teachers in their lives. Celebrate these other teachers and the lessons they impart, even if those lessons are not prescribed by the mandated curriculum. Think about how to use students’ lives and homes in their learning.
Ensuring Digital Access for Digital Learning
Providing Special Education and 504 Services
Providing English Language Services
Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Education in Digital Learning
School Buses Equipped with Wi-Fi for Neighborhoods with Limited Online Access