Facilitating Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Utilizing Digital Tools
A critical look at the misconceptions that educators have regarding LGBT+ students and pedagogical approaches to best utilize technology for fostering engagement and retention. The presentation will consider the significance of personalized communication, inclusive language, balancing synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities, and how to address stereotypes and biases in real-time.
A critical look at the misconceptions that educators have regarding LGBT+ students and pedagogical approaches to best utilize technology for fostering their engagement and retention in the classroom. Many students in this at-risk group are also members of other underrepresented communities, which should also be factored in. The presentation will primarily focus on the significance of personalized communication (name and/or pronoun), inclusive language, balancing synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities, and how to address stereotypes and biases in real-time. This is to ensure that educators consider how diversity and inclusion align with pedagogical goals (Tienda 2013). This is significant because according to a GLSEN (2019) in their national school climate study, “nine out of ten LGBT students repeatedly hear the word ‘gay’ used in a negative way and three-fourths of students regularly hear homophobic remarks... Even more serious, LGBT students are routinely called names, harassed and bullied in school and will often skip classes or even full days of school because they feel unsafe.” This is not only an issue for students in traditional classrooms, marginalization of students in online and blended learning environments can be just as harmful and stigmatizing.
We need “to examine the distinct instructional possibilities and challenges afforded by different communication technologies; as well as the attentiveness of instructors to those dynamics” (Schlossberg & Cunningham 2016). For example, if a class will conduct a video conference, what are the requirements/expectations of students for turning on their web cams (i.e. allowing students to mask their identity or avoid confrontation)? Should students be referred to by their legal name, even if it may not align with their chosen name? There are external tools beyond the LMS to allow students the ability to receive announcements and communicate with instructors, apps like Remind or Microsoft Teams. When is it a necessity for student confidentiality and security to utilize those tools and when do they create a barrier to the students’ access to their peers and classroom engagement? These are valid questions for instructors to have and this presentation will act as a primer to some resources and guidance to facilitate that broader conversation. “Despite strong empirical evidence and knowledgeable instructors in the field, there will always be students who will have difficulties or an unwillingness to accept the ideas being presented” (Crittle & Maddox 2017). The students’ background, experiences, and identity can put them in a state of conflict before the official “lesson” or “course” has begun if these basic needs are not being met. This is why it is important for educators to develop their understanding of the population when determining best practices for their instruction. This will inform how they can proactively design courses and policies that allow students to participate effectively and constructively.
Crittle, C., & Maddox, K. (2017). Confronting Bias Through Teaching: Insights From Social Psychology. Teaching of Psychology, 44(2), 174–180. https://doi.org/10.1177/0098628317692648
GLSEN. (2016). “Safe Space Kit: Guide to Being an Ally to Students.” Retrieved February 1, 2020 from https://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/GLSEN%20Safe%20Space%20Kit.pdf
Tienda, M. (2013). Diversity ≠ Inclusion: Promoting Integration in Higher Education. Educational Researcher, 42(9), 467-475. Retrieved February 19, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/24571296
Schlossberg, P. & Cunningham, C. (2016). Diversity, Instructional Research, and Online Education. Communication Education, 65(2), 230-232. https://doi-org.library.esc.edu/10.1080/03634523.2015.1098711