How edtech can help encourage diversity and inclusivity
Classrooms across the United States are more diverse than ever, and that is a great thing for students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Diversity in the classroom is represented across a range of categories, including race, gender, household income, orientation, cultural background, physical ability, and more – the list goes on and on. Any social identity trait that shapes the experiences of a student or teacher can contribute to diversity within a classroom.
With the proliferation of 1:1 devices in schools, students now have access to an unlimited range of diverse perspectives through the internet — but they may still need guidance.
Recognizing diversity in the classroom
Students’ social identities play a key role in how they view themselves and experience the world. Teaching all kids to celebrate different perspectives and experiences is a great way to stoke their intellectual curiosity, deepen their understanding of the world around them, teach them how to be understanding and accepting of differences, and prepare them to succeed in their future workplace.
There are many ways to celebrate diversity in the classroom, including:
- Honoring achievements throughout history.
If you are looking for fresh lessons on public figures and events that have shaped history and helped contribute to a more diverse world, national library websites are a great place to start.
The Asian Art Museum offers a robust set of educational resources that cover Asia-centric subject matter for virtually any class, including visual and performing arts, history and social science, English and language arts, math, and science. There are lesson plans with extension activities and Common Core standard tie-ins, as well as professional development resources for teachers.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture provides access to primary resources and media, including a collection of more than 37,000 historical artifacts, that can support teachers in educating students about African American history and culture. Teachers can also attend virtual events to learn strategies for using these African American primary sources in the classroom and methods for discussing race.
- Shedding light on those with disabilities.
Children develop empathy in their own ways, but it can help to teach them how to spend time imagining themselves in someone else’s position.
The HIE Help Center offers a resource center with 15 lesson plan ideas that can help students better understand what it is like to live with a disability. Covering topics including accessibility and life in a wheelchair, deafness, learning, and other common disabilities, these lessons are designed to encourage empathy and understanding by giving non-disabled students a peek into the life of a person with a disability.
- Teaching anti-biased reasoning.
Learning to question one’s own inherent (or inherited) biases is not only good for social-emotional learning — it is good for developing logic and reasoning skills.
Learning for Justice offers a range of activities to help students learn and practice anti-biased thinking skills. These include ready-made lessons, film kits, and other resources that can be implemented as stand-alone activities or used to build an entire course.
- Learning about the different forms of empathy.
The foundation of any diversity education plan is empathy. Psychologists Daniel Goleman and Paul Ekma identified three basic kinds of empathy, each of which is appropriate in different situations that most children will face in the classroom: Cognitive, Emotional, and Compassionate Empathy.
Curriculum provider Everfi has put together a set of free lessons on empathy that cover all three types. Students can watch videos, use flashcards, and perform other activities to practice empathy in different scenarios.
- Teaching students about the benefits of diversity.
Diversity is a highly studied topic, both in workplaces and communities. Older students, in particular, may benefit from reviewing and discussing recent research studies that prove the benefits of diversity, as they are more likely to understand the concepts and can actively implement their learnings throughout their higher education or career paths.
Encourage students to review these and formulate answers to a variety of questions:
- How important is it to you to live in a diverse community?
- What is the make-up of your current community?
- What can you do to make people feel more included in your community?
Technologies to support diverse and inclusive learning
Of course, learning about inclusivity is only one part of the equation. Students may also need guidance when it comes to adopting inclusive practices and behaviors.
Cyberbullying is still a challenge for students across the country, representing the same kind of empathic failure inclusivity training is designed to address. Cyberbullying disproportionately targets youth of differing orientations, but any perceived difference can become a reason for students to be targeted.
Lenovo offers software solutions to help schools spot and address cyberbullying as well as its negative outcomes. Lenovo NetFilter+ monitors students’ online conversations at school to flag concerning words and phrases that indicate cyberbullying or thoughts of self-harm, violence, and other harmful behavior. If the conversation is reviewed by a teacher or administrator and deemed to be concerning, the appropriate parties can intervene to help.
In addition, LanSchool gives teachers the ability to monitor students’ screens in real time as they work during class, enabling them to identify and address cyberbullying and other behaviors when it is spotted — or to take a snapshot of the student’s screen for later discussion.
Beyond addressing cyberbullying and its negative effects, LanSchool can also help teachers support students of diverse backgrounds in getting their needs met within the classroom. For example, the software’s chat feature makes it easier for students to discreetly ask the teacher a question, when they may otherwise be hesitant to speak up in class because of a language barrier or fear of being “othered.” Likewise, teachers can message individual students special instructions or corrections without fear of embarrassing them in front of the class.
Schools with high populations of English Language Learners and students who are not as comfortable with certain technologies have also found success with LanSchool’s Blank Screen and Push Website features. Blank Screen enables teachers to temporarily disable students’ devices to redirect attention to the teacher, where Push Website enables teachers to send every student device to the same web page, streamlining transitions between activities.
Finally, both LanSchool and Lenovo NetFilter can also help schools filter out harmful, discriminatory content by blocking unwanted websites. No student should accidentally come across hate speech or other insidious perspectives while trying to learn online.
Fortunately, teachers have the benefit of a wide range of resources and technologies to support diversity and inclusivity in their daily lessons and discussions.
Want to try LanSchool and Lenovo NetFilter? Bundle them together and save on your annual license subscriptions. See the bundles.
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