What Does Access and Equity
Mean in Online Education?
Monday November 15,2010 4:45 – 5:45 pm
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Equitable Access to online courses
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.
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.
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
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 .