• James Kieft

Equity and Inclusion in education and how technology can assist

Updated: Jan 16


To celebrate the return of Microsoft's TweetMeet, I thought I would write a blog post focused on the topic that they will be exploring.That topic being ‘Equity and Inclusion” my plan is to explore what equity and inclusion means to me when it comes to my own teaching and how technology can help.


So let’s start by looking at ‘Equity’ if you are like me you will have heard equality and inclusion mentioned numerous times but not necessarily equity. So I think it’s worth just spending a couple of minutes thinking about what the difference is.


The difference between equity and equality, is that equality is about providing every student with the same, whereas equity is about providing students individually with what they need to perform at their best.


So here are some examples where I think technology could assist you in ensuring you treat all students with equity.

During the recent pandemic I have seen how the use of the chat feature within Microsoft Teams enabled all students to contribute to the lesson regardless of whether that have been in class or connecting remotely from home. The use of the chat feature has also benefited those students who suffer with anxiety in providing them with alternative way of contributing to the lesson.


As I've mentioned in previous blog posts I'm dyslexic. When it comes to producing a hand written submission I struggle to get what I'm trying to say on the piece of paper. However with talk to type technology such as the Dictate feature available within Microsoft Office applications I can talk it will type for me. Which is exactly the method I've used to write this blog post, I can then have it read back to me via Immersive reader.

Here is video to using those features within Microsoft word


Now I appreciate that we need our students to develop their handwriting and spelling skills so this method would not be appropriate for all written assignments but for some students it will enable them to demonstrate their full ablity.


When it comes to the design of assessments whether they are summative or a formative I have found that providing a choice of submission formats allows the students to choose the format that best suits the way they work.


With the greater prevalence of mobile devices it's now possible to make use of other ways to enable students to demonstrate their understanding. This could be through video or audio with apps such as Flipgird enabling students to submit a video to demonstrate their knowledge of participating in a discussion.


Here is my video guide to recording video short using the Flipgird app


The same is true when it comes to providing students with feedback. I found the shorts feature now available in the Flipgrid app allows me to record audio video feedback for my students, similarly I have used the screen record feature within Microsoft Stream to achieve the same thing. This has the benefit that the student can listen to the feedback again and again.


I have also experimented with using infographics to both communicate information to students and as a format for them to submit assessment in. Whilst talking about PowerPoint I find the use of the live subtitles can help those students with hearing difficulties and benefit all students if the acoustics in the teaching space is poor.


Here is a video guide I have made on creating an infographic in PowerPoint.


When it comes to the use of printed or published resources that some students may struggle to view, in addition to the magnifier app available on iOS devices, Microsoft Office Lens can let the user photograph text and have it read back to them via immersive reader. Ensuring that every student has the best opportunity to understand the document that you're asking them to read.


Here is a video guide to Using Immersive read within Office lens video app



Beyond technology, making adjustments to classroom layout or seating plan can have a huge impact especially for students with visual or hearing difficulties by positioning them near the front.


Let's move on to look at ‘Inclusion’ here are some of my ideas and approaches linked to the use of technology.


When thinking about ‘Inclusion' in relation to education what do we mean, well typically it is about ensuring that all students feel welcome and able to contribute to a lesson regardless of personal circumstance.


One of the things we can do to ensure all students feel welcome is to ensure all the resources we are sharing with our students contain images that include a broad range of cultural references ensuring a mix of genders and ethnicities. I have found the stock images within PowerPoint are good for this as they include a broad representation of different people and reflect different cultures and regions from around the world.

When it comes to the written word and especially with new topics the introduction of new terminology we need to be inclusive and in ensuring all the students understand the vocabulary and how it is used in context.


One idea I've seen used is creating a glossary of terms for each topic that is built as they progress through the unit. I have seen OneNote used for this with a tab for each topic and words that are unfamiliar they are added to the glossary with students collaborating on their definitions. At the end of the unit they have all of the new terms


In addition to making sure they're familiar with the terminology, it's also making sure the language is appropriate for the level of students that you're teaching.


This is by no means an exhaustive list, and having written it I think some of my examples could be used for either equity or inclusion, however I hope it provides you with some food for thought. If you have other suggestions, then I would love to see them feel free to comment below this blog post. Thanks for reading


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