Contrary to widespread belief, America is currently facing educational inequality. Those training for a career in education need to be aware that students in vulnerable communities black, indigenous, and other majority-minority areas, are facing disparity in resources such as books, counselors, and accessibility of educational technology. To make things more complex, factors like socioeconomic status, racism, the lack of acculturation, and the accessibility of technology interact, and often it is challenging to differentiate between their impacts.
The United States spends more on education than other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations. Recent data shows states contribute $367bn to K-12 public education, or more than $7,000 per student. Yet, more money spent does not translate to better academic outcomes.
While the path toward educational equity is long and arduous, it is an essential journey that defines the nation’s course. So, educational leaders must learn to create equitable learning environments to support students’ well-being and education regardless of their backgrounds. Those taking advanced studies such as a Doctor of Education (Ed. D) are taught the practices and considerations to integrate technological innovations into classroom discussions. This is to establish a level playing field for their students struggling to catch up to their peers and reduce academic stress.
A prominent distinction among students is where they live—precisely the difference between rural and urban homes. Those living farther away from their school district may be unable to access the same resources or may be more likely to miss school days because of their living situations. Recent data reveals states like Maine and North Carolina see a significant increase in absenteeism among rural students.
Integrating educational technology into their learning allows students to access classroom materials immediately, ultimately boosting equity. It, in turn, challenges the imbalance of power and privilege, improves communication, and strengthens the economy. On the surface, this seems plausible. However, the big kahuna ensures these students access these technological advancements. Several students lack access to technology at home. Some only have access to a smartphone without a data plan, while others have multiple devices with internet access.
A student’s socioeconomic background impacts how likely they are to have technology access. A Pew Research Center survey reveals roughly 35% of American households with an income of under $30,000 lack high-speed internet access, while only 6% lack high-speed internet. A separate National Center for Education Statistics survey found that more than 60% of school-aged kids had internet access at home.
However, most students reported finding an internet café to complete their assignments. Simply put, the problem is not creating more innovative educational technologies but ensuring students get their hands on these innovations. Educators have an essential role in securing equitable technology access for students.
Many of those studying for a career in educational leadership ask: Is studying for an Ed.D. worth it? The answer is yes, especially if you earn it from an established academic institution such as Rockhurst University. A Doctor of Education degree prepares you with the strategic leadership techniques that can be implemented alongside an awareness of the social and ethical issues that are prevalent within their students. If you want to advocate for better access to education for less-privileged students, a Doctor of Education degree offers insight into the strategies needed to do so.
Keep scrolling as this article tackles several strategies students can learn about in their Ed.D and implement in their future career within educational leadership. These methods can help every student maximize academic innovations to reach their full potential.
Establish a Comprehensive and Systematic Technology Plan
As mentioned, less-privileged students in marginalized communities often lack access to educational technology. What makes this worse is that most educators do not even know it. The issue sometimes boils down to not knowing where to look. By creating a comprehensive and systematic technology plan, educational leaders can evaluate specific issues and determine why these communities lack access.
Once they have identified the crux of the issue, they can establish a foundation of policies that address what is needed to provide equitable technological access to students regardless of their socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. These policies must outline where students can go for help to obtain access, ensure they understand how to access technology, and be flexible enough to accommodate the diverse instructional requisites and student learning styles.
Create Digital Literacy Programs
Building in-depth digital literacy programs is another way for educational leaders to ensure students have equitable access to learning innovation. Many students in the United States, particularly those in marginalized communities, are uncomfortable with digital tools despite living in a technology-driven world. According to PubMed Central, there is a digital divide in the US, with more than half of indigenous and marginalized communities not well-versed in technological advancements.
Some factors impacting this digital divide include the lack of economic resources to purchase digital tools and limited English proficiency. By establishing digital literacy programs, educators can allow students to enhance their technological skills and maximize educational technology to boost their learning. Furthermore, digital literacy programs empower students to understand and navigate the challenges of the online environment, making them responsible digital citizens.
Advocate for Technology Access
In marginalized communities there is a lack of voice to ensure that every child has access to technology and other opportunities that enable them to learn, grow, and thrive. Issues are the central point of policy formulation. For government officials and policymakers to determine the issues to be dealt with, they must learn the most pressing issues within the educational system.
Educational leaders can work with individuals at the grassroots level and interact with the most vulnerable. Once they identify these issues, they can forward them to policymakers to develop policies addressing them. Through this communication cycle, educational leaders can ensure existing issues and demands, such as technology access for marginalized communities, are addressed to the concerned authorities.
It is, however, worth noting that the role of academic leaders is not limited to helping policymakers create educational laws and regulations. They also oversee the effective implementation of those policies and let the students in their schools know about them. On top of that, academic leaders also supervise and track the implementation of these policies to achieve desired objectives and communicate changes should modifications be deemed necessary.
Working Towards Creating an Equitable Learning Environment
Establishing an equitable learning environment does not happen overnight. However, an educational leader can take the initial step today by ensuring students, regardless of their backgrounds, can access the most potent technological innovation to support their progress and enhance overall learning. By gaining an Ed.D, those within education can have a well-rounded view of these issues and an advanced knowledge of the strategies and methods which can be used to overcome them.