Free and open technologies do not democratize education, but strategies to combat educational inequity exist and should be replicated, digital learning experts recommend in a new report.
"From Good Intentions to Real Outcomes: Equity by Design in Learning Technologies" proposes following promising strategies that address equity in learning technologies, the authors say. New technologies, even free ones, they argue, disproportionately benefit students with the financial, social, and technical capital to take advantage of them.
The authors — Mizuko (Mimi) Ito, research director of the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub at the University of California, Irvine and director of UCI's Connected Learning Lab, and Justin Reich, executive director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Teaching Systems Lab and a research scientist in the MIT Office of Digital Learning — met with leading researchers, educators, and technologists for in-depth working sessions to share challenges and solutions for how learning technologies can provide the greatest benefits for the most vulnerable learners. The group identified the challenges and solutions outlined in the report.
Among their solutions:
"We stand at the cusp of widespread adoption of new technologies that have the potential to both radically reduce or exacerbate existing forms of educational inequity," the report says. "A concerted push for research, innovation, and joint action around a common purpose of deploying learning technologies in the service of equity could dramatically enhance our understanding of how new technologies can truly democratize education. The time is ripe for a coalition that unites research, practice, and design, and that cuts across the public-private divide in the service of a more equitable future for learning technologies."
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