What does equity in education mean?
Broadly speaking, equity in education means ensuring that everyone in our classroom has fair and equal access to quality education.
The OECD defines Equity of access to education as:
“Equity does not mean that all students obtain equal education outcomes, but rather that differences in students’ outcomes are unrelated to their background or to economic and social circumstances over which the students have no control."
In this section:
Equity versus equality in education
"There is a major difference between equality and equity. Equality is giving everyone the exact same opportunity. If we had a race, we would both start at the same spot, begin running at the same time, and try our hardest to place first as we headed towards an equal pre-determined distance. When we take this analogy and consider equity, it is an understanding that perhaps one of us had to run an entire race even before getting to the starting line of this new race. When we realize that some people have had obstacles in their way even before 'starting at the same spot and racing the same distance' as a peer, we can begin to understand that equality is not the same thing as equity." Matthew R. Morris, Teacher
Why is equity important in the classroom?
Our student population is diverse, but our education system isn’t necessarily as diverse as the students we teach. Sometimes it’s a challenge to provide for students of color, neurodivergent students, students living in poverty, or students with physical or mental disabilities. Every student, and teacher, brings a unique perspective to the classroom, and our classrooms and education is richer for every single experience.
There is no such thing as a “typical” student. Making equity in the classroom a priority, means that all students can benefit.
To move education forward, we need to find meaningful ways to foster equity in our classrooms, schools, and education systems as a whole. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) outlines three levels that can help to incorporate equity in education:
Institutional — What the district and school administration value, and the policies they put in place.
Personal — How teachers engage with the complicated emotional and cognitive processes needed to work towards equity.
Instructional — Any books, lesson plans, assignments or teaching strategies you use in the classroom.
How to maximize technology use in your classroom
Devices like computers and tablets can make a huge difference in how we teach and how students learn. These tools have the ability to enhance classroom courses and support students’ learning 24/7.
Instructional technology has the ability to create unrivalled changes in teaching and learning, creating opportunities for unmatched collaboration, engagement, and support. The key is knowing how to use technology in meaningful ways. The application and benefit of instructional technology vary widely. But, all instructional technology shares one main purpose: to create engaging and effective learning experiences for every student. To do this, we need to provide equitable access to this technology and the internet and devices that power the learning. Using technology in our classrooms also helps us to prepare our students for success in the digital world after education.
Infusing our classrooms with valuable digital tools not only expands the reach of course content, but also has the ability to increase student engagement and accelerate learning. Whilst instructional technology offers endless applications and opportunities to learn, there are three key areas where integrating technology has shown a significant impact.
Advances in instructional technology have made sharing information easier than ever before. This helps to provide unparalleled
We now have access to digital tools that allow our students to work collaboratively both inside and outside the classroom. From discussing ideas and contemplating projects, digital technologies remove barriers to learning like standard classroom hours and location. Not only does technology up the ante for student collaboration, but it also gives us as teachers a great opportunity to collaborate with our students on a more one-to-one level. Quick to-and-fro through instant messages or feedback in digital documents, increased personalized feedback and closes the feedback loop quickly.
Virtual classrooms and learning online
It’s fair to say that education only survived the global pandemic thanks to teachers’ quick thinking and pivoting to online learning.
Instructional technology played a critical role, allowing classrooms to turn virtual almost overnight. It may have taken some time to really refine and hone the skill of teaching an online class. But refine it we did. And online teaching and virtual classrooms are still very much in operation today.
For students who find it challenging to work in the traditional classroom environment, online learning provides an opportunity for them to find somewhere comfortable that meets their needs, meaning they can be more engaged in the learning process.
Perhaps the biggest impact instructional technology has had on learning is the ability for us as educators to interact with our students and their work in real time.
Being able to turn a piece of work in and have it graded while the learning is still fresh, has a massive positive impact on learning outcomes. The ability to interact with students in a way that meets their needs also has a significant impact on engagement. Leaving a quick voice note instead of written feedback for the students who find reading a challenge, not only helps them to learn, it also signals that we’re really listening and understanding their needs in the classroom.
How edtech tools can help DEI in your classroom
Over the past several years, DEI has become a hot topic of conversation, and the recent coronavirus pandemic highlighted the inequalities and barriers that many of our learners face in the classroom.
Empowering our students begins with creating equitable and inclusive learning environments.
This guide gives an introduction to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in the classroom. It shows us how we can use technology to help our students to fully engage with learning and reach their full potential. You will learn:
What DEI is?
- What does it mean for classrooms to be equitable and inclusive?
- How to design a classroom where everyone has the conditions they need?
- How can technology help in a diverse classroom?
- How to make learning more personal?