Dr Julie Willems, Monash University
Digital equity is a complex and multifaceted concept. It includes not only access to hardware, software, and connectivity to the Internet but also meaningful, high-quality, and culturally relevant content in local languages, and the ability to create, share, and exchange knowledge. Participatory citizenship in the digital era involves the right to access and participate in higher education. Indeed, it is a key civil rights issue of the modern world.
A special issue of AJET focuses on some of these issues. Following a call, 50 articles were received and submitted to the double-blind peer review process. From this, 11 articles were accepted, spanning a variety of topics including developing learning with special needs in mind through to better supporting those using the technology to teach others. The diversity of these articles serves to remind us of the complexity of the issues associated with digital equity and a reminder of the need to remain cognizant of these. A brief summary of these 11 articles follows:
- Mobile learning policy and practice in South Africa (Rogers Kaliisa and Michelle Picard)
- Engagement with technology in initial teacher education (Katherine Frances McLay and Vincent Chua Reyes)
- Using universal design for learning and analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation (ADDIE) guidelines for the development of the first massive open online course (MOOC) training (Liliana Herrara Nieves, Emilio Crisol Moya, and Rosana Montes Soldada)
- Consideration on the democratisation of MOOC platforms where they are not designed to be accessible and inclusive for learners with disabilities (Kyodong Park, Hyo-Jeong So, and Hyunjin Cha)
- Teacher quality and the digital divide (Lina Pelliccione, Valerie Morey, Rebecca Walker, and Chad Morrison)
- Inclusive educational processes and the translation of policy into practice (Martin Cabrera, Leidi Yoana Zamudio Garnica, and Isabel Cristina Martínez Farfán)
- Gender equity and the dual roles of mature age-students (Cathy Stone and Sarah O’Shea)
- The impact of course design on disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders (Dawn Adams, Kate Simpson, Lynda Davies, Chris Campbell and Libby Macdonald)
- The replication of educational inequity that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have experienced in higher education in virtual learning spaces (Alison Reedy)
- A one-size-fits-all approach to staff professional development in technology-enhanced learning may miss the differing needs, views and capabilities of staff (Julie Willems)
- Advancing a new conceptual model to guide practitioners and researchers in maximising the enablers and minimising the constraints to foundation-level online learning for equity students Working from the perspective of open and online learning for widening participation of higher education (Sarah Lambert)
The special edition can be found here: https://ajet.org.au/index.php/AJET/issue/view/140
ASCILITE has a special interest group (SIG) which focuses on digital equity. The aims of the Digital Equity SIG are to connect like-minded individuals around the globe with an interest in the various aspects of digital equity; to identify and explore the issues, challenges and opportunities relating to digital equity and to bring these to the attention of ASCILITE members and the broader higher education community; to provide guidance and advice across the sector on issues relating to digital equity; to foster the development of initiatives, innovation and practices relating to digital equity; and to foster collaboration around digital equity projects, publications and practices.
If you are interested in being involved, please visit the Digital Equity SIG webpage for details. Let’s work together to find solutions to this “wicked problem” (Alexander et al., 2019).