What Does Access & Equity Mean in Online Education?


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Virtual School Symposium 2010 concurrent session

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What Does Access & Equity Mean in Online Education?

  1. 1. What Does Access and Equity Mean in Online Education? Karen Johnson David Glick Raymond Rose Monday November 15,2010 4:45 – 5:45 pm
  2. 2. Scenario 1 Your large school district has decided to offer all credit recovery courses through your online program as an outside school time, at-home program. Parents complain, because not all the towns in the school district have been wired for broadband access.
  3. 3. Scenario 2 A parent asks why her visually impaired student, who uses a screen reader, was told by her school guidance counselor she couldn’t take an online Advanced Placement History course that isn’t otherwise available in the student’s school. The parent was told the course used a number of videos to present information and her student wouldn’t be able to view them.
  4. 4. Scenario 3 A reporter doing a story on your virtual school program asks to talk with students in the program. The reporter notes that all the students identified are white, even though the district enrollment includes a large proportion of Black, Hispanic, and Asian students. The reporter asks for racial enrollment data for your program.
  5. 5. Scenario 4 The class completion data from one course shows that most of the Hispanic students don’t successfully complete the course. Upon further investigation, you discover this advanced science class has a lower proportion of Hispanic students initially enrolling in the course. When you interview a sampling of students who withdraw early, you learn the students don’t find any role models in the instructional materials and are made to feel less successful than the other students in the course.
  6. 6. Scenario 5 A parent complains to the program administrator that their student needs to take an online course in order to graduate but they don’t have a home computer as required by the program.
  7. 7. Access and Equity Checklist Equitable Access to Technology  Every classroom has access to broadband connections and sufficient computers to allow students access.  There are sufficient computers with high-speed computer access, available in public spaces, to allow students to complete assignments even if they don't have a home computer or internet access outside of school. These computers are available outside normal school hours.  If necessary, a suitable number of computers are available to lend to students who do not otherwise have access to computers.  Partnerships with public libraries, local colleges, businesses or other organizations provide additional options for students without internet access at home to engage in coursework outside the normal school day.
  8. 8. Equitable Access to online courses Gatekeepers  If initial applications or entrance surveys are in place they are used to determine what support systems each student may need in order to be successful in online courses. There are no student assessments (formal or informal) that are used to deny student access to virtual education opportunities or that reinforce pre-conceived notions about who can be successful in online courses.  There are no requirements that students must have a home computer with internet access in order to participate in virtual education programs.  Guidance counselors, IEP teams and others who influence student enrollment in virtual education programs and courses are prepared to address the negative assumptions about online education that adversely impact student enrollment, and have identified the support systems possible and available to help ensure student success.
  9. 9. Virtual Education Program Demographics:  The virtual education programs collects and publishes disaggregated demographic and special needs information about student enrollment by program and course.  Student success and information about student drops, withdrawals, and failures are reported by disaggregated demographic, and special needs categories.  The program analyses enrollment data as one element used for course and program modifications.  Virtual education program has a special needs policy or the existing special needs policy includes a section on virtual education to insure special needs students and particularly students with handicaps can be accommodated.
  10. 10. Equitable access to quality instruction  Course design standards based on Universal Designs for Learning or other established practice are used in course design and selection to insure that course material is accessible.  The program trains course designers in the course design standards and monitors compliance with the standards.  Multiple instructional approaches that address various learning styles are included in all courses.  Culturally relevant content for a variety of student populations is included throughout coursework .