Socio-emotional learning in the context of digital justice

Why is digital equality essential for socio-emotional learning?

Digital justice supports SEL because there is no true SEL without equity. An important thing to remember when talking about digital stocks is that equality does not mean that everyone is treated the same; Equity means that everyone gets what they need in order to thrive. Equity also means that districts love and support all of their students unconditionally and provide, to the extent they can, all the opportunities students need to succeed. If districts are not able to provide this internally, they look for knowledge and opportunities to provide this to faculty and staff.

As it relates to academics, SEL is most effective when teachers evaluate their lessons and the technology used to teach them. K-12 IT leaders should consider the different types of technical resources and different types of media they want students to use and ask if any of them could inadvertently harm learners.

For example, if a teacher shares a resource about the demographics of a neighborhood, city, or school in the class, it’s worth diving into why that demographics are what they are. Were there concerns about re-planning, financial custodianship, or population migration in the area? This may affect the demographics of the area, which should be explored with students as they research and discuss this topic. This can be another area in which educational technology can be very useful: students can do a deep research on the factors that influenced this.

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Districts providing resources must ensure that tools and media represent their students and what they want to portray to their students. At the same time, when investing in these resources, district leaders should consider what they want students to learn through the availability of these tools and media and whether they will help learners articulate what happened in a particular class. This is an opportunity where professional development from a managerial level can be particularly beneficial. District leaders can give teachers training and opportunities to become familiar with different types of tools so that teachers, coaches, and students can use them during the school year.

How can schools make progress towards digital stocks?

Since the SEL relies so heavily on digital equity, schools must first find a solution to any inequity before offering the appropriate SEL. Digital justice is a complex and multifaceted topic, but it boils down to student experiences. Kindergarten to Grade 12 leaders should aim to provide the best and most equitable experiences for their students.

Giving a computer to children will not solve all their problems. In many cases, Internet access and bandwidth are issues that prevent students from using technology and learning in beneficial ways. If students can’t use the technology they have, there is no fairness.

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Another essential component of digital justice is training. The importance of professional development for teachers who use resources can be lost when districts aim to incorporate new technology. When teachers are not trained to use new technologies appropriately, one of two outcomes is likely to occur.

In some cases, educators get frustrated when they don’t understand how to operate resources. When they struggle to log in or can’t figure out how to use the task tools, instead of spending the extra time and energy learning, they may choose not to use this technology.

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