The Great Chromebook Experiment: Advancing Equity and Inclusion

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges for institutions across the U.S. Many post-secondary institutions had some form of online education in place, others did not. This session explores ways in which post-secondary institutions can use technology in classes as resources and/or instructional/assessment strategies despite financial barriers or student profile to provide equity, inclusion, and enrichment for students. 

Extended Abstract

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020 presented challenges for schools and colleges across the United States. While many post-secondary institutions had some form of online or blended education in place that they could draw upon, others did not. These institutions were left scrambling to find solutions for temporary remote instruction, ability to maintain contact with students, and provide educational resources to enhance the learning environment.

One such institution that faced this challenge was a school whose mission is to change lives by providing career training and academic enrichment opportunities to adults who are unemployed, underemployed, or in transition. Their academic programs emphasize middle skills training developed in collaboration with employers in their geographic region to identify skill gaps in their workforce and to create programs that will lead to careers that pay a living wage, demonstrate long-term demand, and provide entry-level positions with clear career paths. These programs are designed to be delivered 100 percent on-site, therefore because of the COVID-19 pandemic, academic operations ceased entirely, and students were not able to engage in instruction.

In response, the institution confronted their challenge by thinking about the opportunity for long-term advancement as well as a short-term solution. There was a lack of funds, no plan to offer remote/hybrid education in the future and students and faculty who were not technologically proficient.  They sought to develop an alternative delivery model that did not require distance education approval by their state and accreditor to supplement on-site instruction in all program areas and ensure an inclusive and quality education is delivered to students that closes the digital divide existing in resource poor settings and promotes lifelong learning. The school's interim solution resulted in the enrichment and advancement of education at the institution beyond COVID-19.

A pilot project was developed through a grant that provided Chromebooks for all students and faculty at the institution. The pilot set off an experiment for faculty to implement technology as a resource in all classes. Rather than follow a prescribed route as originally discussed, the only requirements given to faculty were that solutions must be free and could not violate state and accreditation standards for distance education. The intent was not to limit faculty to specific uses and to encourage all faculty to be creative and to use the Chromebooks in ways that they felt comfortable despite differing levels of technology proficiency. What happened next, how it happened, lessons learned, and best practices will be discussed in this session.

The goal of this session is to explore ways in which post-secondary institutions can use technology in classes as resources and/or instructional and assessment strategies. Many institutions are not able to offer classes online given financial barriers or student profile, yet they seek to bring technology into the classroom in some way to provide equity, inclusion, and enrichment for students. Also, because of the pandemic, many institutions found themselves to be unprepared to address the needs of students as in-class sessions were restricted. In this session we will discuss best practices and practical applications for infusing classes with technology and the process for implementation.  Feedback from faculty and students will also be shared. Interactivity in the session will be comprised of polling, question and answer, and engagement activities such as focused listing that will enable participants to share their responses with the larger group.