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Course Design for Equity in Distance Learning
Baker, R., Dee, T., Evans, B., John, J., & Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA). (2018). Bias in Online Classes: Evidence from a Field Experiment. CEPA Working Paper No. 18-03. In Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis. Stanford Cen
While online learning environments are increasingly common, relatively little is known about issues of equity in these settings. We test for the presence of race and gender biases among postsecondary students and instructors in online classes by measuring student and instructor responses to discussion comments we posted in the discussion forums of 124 different online courses. Each comment was randomly assigned a student name connoting a specific race and gender. We find that instructors are 94% more likely to respond to forum posts by White male students. In contrast, we do not find general evidence of biases in student responses. However, we do find that comments placed by White females are more likely to receive a response from White female peers. We discuss the implications of our findings for our understanding of social identity dynamics in classrooms and the design of equitable online learning environments.
Cochrane, P. (2019). Crafting the Experience of Online Education: Student and Faculty Perceptions of Quality [ProQuest LLC]. In ProQuest LLC.
Online education today is on the front lines of the massive changes in society brought on by the rise of the Internet and its impact on how knowledge is constructed, who controls it, and how these changes affect higher education. For students and educators, developing a more robust definition of quality in online education is a potential tool to help educators increase access and equity as well as respond to a rapidly changing Internet-based society. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to examine student and faculty perceptions of the quality of online learning, and it focused specifically on those elements of the experience of online education that students found to be engaging, motivational, and transformative. This study employed an explanatory sequential design approach, a two-phase mixed methods design. The first phase began with quantitative data collection using a survey instrument to map constructivist features of learning environments. The second phase of the study employed individual interviews to explore the specific online learning experiences of twelve students and the online teaching experiences of nine faculty members. The findings from the study identified a number of areas relating to course design and teaching practice that differentiated low engagement from high engagement online courses. Seven guiding practices for instruction emerged from the study: (1) develop the guiding vision; (2) set clear expectations; (3) make clear the purpose of the learning; (4) build the learning culture; (5) empower students with choice; (6) incorporate active experimentation and feedback loops; and (7) connect the learning.
Kier, M., & Khalil, D. (2018). Critical Race Design: An Emerging Methodological Approach to Anti-Racist Design and Implementation. In Handbook of Research on Innovative Techniques, Trends, and Analysis for Optimized Research Methods (pp. 30-49). IGI Globa
This article is about introducing Critical Race Design (CRD), a research methodology that centers race and equity at the nucleus of educational opportunities by design. First, the authors define design-based implementation research (DBIR; Penuel, Fishman, Cheng, & Sabelli, 2011) as an equity-oriented education research methodology where teaching and learning is informed by robust, iterative, evidence-based research conducted by multiple stakeholders. Next, they provide a brief overview of Critical Race Theory in Education (CRT; Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995) as a theoretical and methodological approach that aims to unpack and disrupt the structural inequities experienced by disenfranchised racial groups. They then describe how both education methodologies informed CRD, our emerging anti-racist critical design methodology. Finally, they provide an example where they used CRD to design an online service-learning course that aimed to situate the narratives of underrepresented STEM professionals as a curricular resource for nondominant adolescents.
Morong, G., & DesBiens, D. (2016). Culturally responsive online design: Learning at intercultural intersections. Intercultural Education, 27(5), 474-492.
This article presents evidence-based guidelines to inform culturally responsive online learning design in higher education. Intercultural understanding is now a recognized core learning outcome in a large majority of Canadian public universities; however, supporting design methodology is underdeveloped, especially in online contexts.Our search for valid intercultural learning design criteria began with two questions: What is the research evidence for learning design practices that support intercultural learning? In what ways do current course design rubrics address intercultural learning? For answers, first we explored recentliterature reviews, articles, books, professional discourse on cultural aspects of learning, and the related internationalization and Indigenous literatures on formal learning. Next, we examined three course design rubrics commonlyused in Canada to identify practice supports and gaps in relation to the literature. Various research-indicated supports are present in these rubrics; however, major gaps include critical and holistic pedagogies, explicit intercultural learning outcomes, and intentional diversity group work. The proposed guidelines synthesize key research-indicated supports for intercultural learning and show how they can be integrated in core online course design components. The guidelines present a base for online design methodology to support intercultural learning and enable formative evaluation of pedagogy, learning activity, and assessment applications.
Woodley, X. (2018). Authentic Dialogue in Online Classrooms. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 22(4), 38-43.
Authentic dialogue about social and cultural issues is an imperative in the current educational zeitgeist of national standards, high stakes testing, and neoliberal accountability reform. As social justice educators, it is important to remember that it is our responsibility to create spaces in our online courses where students can engage in authentic discourse. Thisarticle provides examples of ways faculty can create online environments that encourage authentic discourse among students.
Woodley, X., Hernandez, C., Parra, J., & Negash, B. (2017). Celebrating difference: Best practices in culturally responsive teaching online. TechTrends, 61(5), 470-478.
Culturally responsive teaching and design practices flip the online classroom by creating an environment that acknowledges, celebrates, and builds upon the cultural capital that learners and teachers bring to the online classroom. Challenges exist in all phases of online course design, including the ability to create online courses that reflect the instructor’s commitment to inclusive excellence, diversity, and social justice. Designing an online environment that supports all learners regardless of their backgrounds is important in their future success as professionals; thus, it is important for faculty to design courses with all students in mind. The purpose of this article is to share best practices in the design of culturally and linguistically responsive online courses that support the culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students we serve. Based on Gay’s (2010) culturally responsive teaching practices, this article provides examples of online activities that are validating; comprehensive; multi-dimensional; empowering; transformative, and emancipatory.
Zydney, J. M., Warner, Z., & Angelone, L. (2020). Learning through experience: Using design based research to redesign protocols for blended synchronous learning environments. Computers & Education, 143.
Blended synchronous environments offer benefits to learners in terms of flexibility, but there are technological and pedagogical challenges in implementing this approach. Protocols, which are highly structured discussion strategies designed to promote trust, equity, and diversity, have the potential to address some of these challenges. This exploratory study used a design based research methodology to iteratively design, implement, and assess a blended synchronous learning environment leveraging the use of protocols in a graduate education course. Across three iterations, a combination of qualitative data collection and analysis procedures were used to examine the influence of protocols on the experiences of the instructor and students in a blended synchronous environment. The findings included several assertions. Students appreciated taking on greater leadership roles through facilitating protocols when they perceived the outcome of their facilitation successful. Students became hyperaware of the time when the technology caused timing issues with the protocols. Trust of the protocol was hindered by the unpredictability of the blended synchronous learning environment. And, deep connections to texts were unachievable due to the multitasking required in blended synchronous settings. These findings resulted in a set of contextualized design propositions that contribute to the literature on both protocols and blended synchronous environments. The propositions included: (a) enabling active participation through distributed roles, (b) creating equity through flexible structures, (c) fostering trust through re-norming, and (d) prompting connections with texts by reducing task complexity.