Sunday, March 30, 2014

Equality and Equity in Education

Original Source Unknown.
Please let me know if  you know the original source!

Update 8/5/16 - Discovered the original graphic source
 is Dr. Craig Froehle when this random post
popped up in my Facebook feed!
Earlier this month, I participated on a panel about BYOD Equity at SXSWedu. In the weeks leading up to the panel, the graphic to the right came across my radar. I thought it was an excellent visual of the difference between equality and equity. I used it when introducing our SXSWedu panel, and it seemed to resonate with others as well, as it was photographed and Tweeted during the presentation several times.

Last Thursday while I was in a breakout session during our Spring TEC-SIG meeting, session presenter Wendy Jones referenced this graphic as she discussed teacher professional development and access to technology. Wendy had seen it when attending the aforementioned panel at SXSWedu.

After Wendy mentioned the graphic in the TEC-SIG session, other attendees requested that I Tweet it out. I did so, and after being re-tweeted by a couple of folks, it has gone viral and still continues to be passed around via Twitter. Check out the number of re-tweets and favorites on the Tweet below!

Why has this graphic resonated with people? I think it's because it captures in a simple picture concepts that are difficult to communicate with words: Equality connotes treating everyone the exact same way regardless of need while equity references providing each individual with the resources they need to operate in as level a playing field as possible.

By providing all of the kids in the picture with the same box, in other words, treating them equally, we give the tallest student help he does not need, the middle student exactly what he needs, and the shortest student gets closer to the goal but still does not have his needs entirely met. If we look at each student as an individual through the lens of equity, we see in this case our tallest student does not need extra support, we are meeting our middle student's needs, and we need to give an extra boost to our shortest kid. Suddenly, everyone is successful.

Equality and equity are not the same thing; a focus on equity will probably achieve the ultimate purpose of equalizing the playing field in education. When we say we want all students and educators to be successful and have equal opportunities, equity is probably where we need to focus.

Are You Planning for Equality or Equity?

As I have contemplated the resonance of this graphic over the past few weeks, I've begun to think about how we approach decision making in education, especially when it comes to large-scale endeavors. And I've begun wondering about areas where we usually talk equality but instead might do better to talk about equity. Here is what I have come up with so far:

  • Replacing technology for teachers: Does everyone need the exact same (equal) setup? Or do different teachers/grade levels/subjects need different types of technology (equitable)  to meet their learning goals? (Thanks Wendy Jones for planting this one in my head!)
  • Replacing technology for students or offering it for the first time: If you are moving into or moving on with 1:1 deployments for students, are you providing the exact same device for all students K-12 (equal) or have you taken into account their unique needs based on their developmental stages and the learning they need to accomplish (equity)?
  • Professional development: Is every teacher going to be expected to complete the exact same sessions (equal) or are you providing multiple tracks or choice based on their individual development needs (equity)?
  • Planning new buildings: Are you building your next elementary/middle/high school campus on the exact same template that has been used for other campuses on your district (keeping it "fair" and "equal") or are you looking at the latest research on best practices for learning spaces and planning accordingly? Consider that you could at some point retrofit existing campuses to aim for equity.
  • Course offerings and graduation plans for students: Do we need to provide the same course plans for every student in order to prepare them for college (equality) or should we be providing multiple, flexible options to prepare them for what they are interested in after high school (equity)?

I know I am missing some important topics regarding equality and equity. What are your thoughts on these concepts in education? What other areas do we need to contemplate through the lens of equity? I hope you will share your thoughts in the comments so we can continue to learn together.

 All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

BYOD Equity Panel at #SXSWedu 2014

On March 5, 2014, I was privileged to moderate and participate on a panel on Bridging the Digital Divide with BYOD Equity at the SXSWedu conference in Austin, Texas.

The panelists were a true joy to plan and present with. I highly suggest you follow each of them on Twitter to learn more about best practices in educational technology. My fellow panelists were:

  • Jessica Herring, 7th Grade English teacher and practitioner of BYOD in the classroom at Benton Middle School outside of Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Dr. Tim Clark, Coordinator of Instructional Technology for Forsyth County Schools in Georgia. Forsyth County Schools was an early trailblazer in BYOD initiatives and is looked to nationwide as a resource for how to implement BYOD and implement it well.
  • Dr. Michael Mills, Assistant Professor of Teaching and Learning at the University of Central Arkansas. Michael keeps his hand in K-12 education by partnering with schools and teachers on BYOD integration projects. He also conceived of this panel and brought us all together to participate on it, for which I am truly thankful.

What I loved about this panel is it stretched the conversation about BYOD Equity beyond just devices. Of course access to devices is important when we are asking families to send technology to school with their children, but there are so many more equity issues involved. Some of the topics our panel touched on were:

  • Internet access outside of school
  • Support for and understanding of BYOD from school and district administrators
  • Acceptance and sound implementation of BYOD by classroom teachers
  • Ongoing, robust professional development for teachers
  • Clear communication with families of students
  • Support from the greater community in which the school or district operates

Here is an audio recording of the panel:

I am thankful that my Central Texas edtech colleague Diana Benner attended our panel and posted notes she took during the discussion to her blog

As I looked through Tweets later on the day of the session, this one really stood out because it was such a high compliment and made me realize it wasn't just my biased perception that the panel had gone well:

I also used Storify to try collect Tweets which used our #BYODequity hashtag during the panel. Below is a slideshow of the Tweets I collected.

This conversation was just a beginning. I hope all of the documentation of the session which I am posting here can serve as a starting-place for more detailed conversations which lead to solutions for getting powerful learning technologies into the hands of students.

All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Tips for Education Conference Presenters

Photo from Flikr User MattHurst Used Under a Creative Commons License
My favorite part of attending conferences like SXSWedu, TCEA, Tech Forum, or iPadpalooza is getting to learn from education colleagues and share my own learning with them in formal and informal spaces. Having just attended two conferences within the space of a month and done a solo presentation at one of them, I have a few tips fresh on my mind that might help anyone who plans to present at a conference or professional development event. These tips are based on a mixture of my experiences as a presenter and as an audience member. I think these tips will benefit first-time and experienced presenters.

Presentation Tips

  1. Create digital resources and post them online so your audience can refer to them during your presentation and refer back to them after the event.  If you are creating a slide deck or other digital resource to use during your presentation, make it available to your audience at the start of your time with them. This will help them know how many notes they need to take and where they can go back to to reference your information after the event is over. Some of my favorite tools for this are Google Presentations, SlideShare, LiveBinders, and Prezi.
  2. Make it easy for your audience to access your digital resources. Go to a website like where you can make a shortened link and a QR code for your resources. The shortened link helps tremendously, especially with anything hosted online that has an ugly long URL. A QR code is easily scanned by the numerous folks using their smartphones or tablet devices. Be sure to use both a QR code and short link if possible to accommodate all of your participants. If you can use only one, the shortened link will suffice for everyone.
  3. Create a hashtag for your session so attendees can create buzz by Tweeting about it! This will help you in numerous ways. You can go back and search for the hashtag later to see what stood out to your audience based on what they shared. You can also invite participants to ask questions of you using the hashtag and get back to them later via Twitter if you run out of time during the session. You can also use Storify to curate the Tweets from your session after it is over; having a unique hashtag to search by will make your curation much easier.
  4. Make any QR codes you use REALLY BIG on the screen. Don't be afraid to make it as big as possible. You likely won't know the size of the room you are presenting in until just before your presentation. Nothing can slow down the momentum of a presentation like everyone having to walk up to the screen to scan a QR code because they are sitting too far away. Although I like for creating shortened URLs, the QR codes it makes are very small and they get blurry when I resize them to make them larger. I recently discovered QRCode Monkey, which lets you choose the size of the QR code you are creating. I choose "Bumber sticker" size (their misspelling, not mine!) and that usually allows me to fill the screen.
  5. Display the shortened URL for your digital resources and/or the Twitter hashtag on every screen in your presentation if possible. This will allow participants who come in late to easily access your resources and catch up. It also acts as a support for anyone who might get lost during the presentation by accidentally closing out of a tab in their web browser or because their device malfunctions. I have not used this technique myself in the past, but saw it in use at SXSWedu and thought it was a great idea! I will definitely incorporate it in the future.

What Are Your Ideas or Questions?

Those are the ideas that rise to the top for me right now. How about you? If you've presented at education conferences or attended presentations, what tips would you share or suggest? Or what questions have been stirred after reading the suggestions above? I hope you'll share ideas and questions in the comments section below, so we can continue to learn together!

 All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Lesson in Technology History

Photo used under a Creative Commons License 
The rotary phone came along several years before my arrival on the planet, but it is still the first type of phone I remember using as a child.

What's the first type of phone you learned to use? How about your children or students?

The first of the two videos below came to my attention via @jbergland, and the second via @KimKomando. They found me a few weeks apart, but the second video immediately made me recall the first one.

The evolution of the technology over 60 years is awe inspiring to me. I'm struck by the fact that folks in 1954 needed the first video to learn about a new technology, and just two or three generations later, kids in the second video could benefit from the first one to learn about an antiquated technology.

Wow. Just wow.

Relax for a few minutes and contemplate the progress that occurred in the 60 years between the making of these two videos.

How could you use these videos, or videos on another type of technology, to spur your students' interest in history and/or scientific achievement?

All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.