7. ENSURING EQUITABLE ACCESS IN ONLINE AND BLENDED LEARNING

Ray Rose, Alese Smith, Karen Johnson, and David Glick

Abstract

In this chapter, we argue that online and blended education and virtual schools can be a critical tool in our search for equitable education across all aspects of our public education system, and caution that without proper planning, virtual schools could perpetuate or even exacerbate disparities in our system. We present three major themes: equitable access to technology, equitable access to online courses, and equitable access to quality instruction. Our focus is on U.S. K–12 education; those interested in international equitable-access issues should consult Cavanaugh’s foreword and Chapter 13 in this volume.

Discussion Questions

1. Drawing from current information about the latest products for instructional technology, describe how these products could support inclusion and equity, and the equity and access problems inherent in the current implementation of these tools.

2. Data is an essential tool in determining the provision of access and equity in educational programs. Describe how data is used to determine if there are violations of civil rights laws enforced by U. S. Department of Education.

3. Online learning, both full-time and blended, have a number of requirements to ensure they meet current civil rights access requirements. Discuss the strategies that programs and institutions can and should undertake to ensure that their programs meet their full responsibilities for access and equity.

4. The classic New Yorker 1993 cartoon by Peter Steiner depicts a dog at the computer saying “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” That concept has been used to explain that there are no issues of stereotyping in online education. Drawing from research and OCR findings, support or challenge that concept.

5. How can issues of equitable access to high-quality K-12 online instruction be identified and addressed?

Additional Resources

Because of the evolving nature of instructional technology and case law and civil rights enforcement, it is important to study the latest information on the issues of access and equity.

Rose, R. M. (2014) Access and Equity for All Learners in Blended and Online Education Retrieved from http://www.inacol.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/iNACOL-Access-and-Equity-for-All-Learners-in-Blended-and-Online-Education-Oct2014.pdf

U. S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Web site.
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr

OCR Findings
2013 Virtual Community School of Ohio Agreement Press Release, Resolution, and Agreement

2014 Press Release South Carolina Virtual Charter School Agreement
http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-announces-resolution-south-carolina-virtual-charter-scho

Relevant OCR and Department of Education Dear Colleague Letters
Charter Schools and Civil Rights Legislation
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201405-charter.pdf

ADA requirements for K-12 programs
http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/department-education-issues-ada-amendments-act-dear-colleague-letter-provide-gui

Broadened definitions for ADA
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201109.html

Electronic Book Readers
http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/departments-education-and-justice-announce-continuing-commitment-accessible-tech
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-20100629.html

Questions and Answers about the Law, the Technology, and the Population Affected (June 29, 2010),
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/504-qa-20100629.pdf

Dear Colleague Letter [to Colleges and Universities] on Emerging Technologies (May 26, 2011), http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201105-pse.html

Dear Colleague Letter [to School Districts] on Emerging Technologies (May 26, 2011), http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201105-ese.html

Frequently Asked Questions about the June 29, 2010, Dear Colleague Letter (May 26, 2011), http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/dcl-ebook-faq-201105.html

Equal Access Regardless of Immigration Status
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201405.pdf

References

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Brown v. Board of Education. 347 U.S. 483 (1954).

Cavanaugh, C. (2009, May). Getting students more learning time online. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress. Retrieved from http://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/issues/2009/05/pdf/distancelearning.pdf

Federal Communications Commission. (1934). Communications Act of 1934. 47 U.S.C. 214(e) Provision of Universal Service. Retrieved from http://www.fcc.gov/Reports/1934new.pdf

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State Education Technology Directors Association. (2008, June). High-speed broadband access for all kids: Breaking through the barriers. Glen Burnie, MD: Author. Retrieved from http://www.setda.org/c/document_library/get_fi le?folderId=270&name=DLFE-211.pdf

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