As educators explore how to provide online learning opportunities for K-12 and college students, they’ll need to consider how to make those learning experiences accessible and equitable for students from different backgrounds.
College of Education & Human Development Assistant Professor Kathryn McCarthy and Scott Crossley, professor and affiliate faculty member in the college’s Department of Learning Sciences, received National Science Foundation funding to gather experts in educational technology and related fields. They tasked the group with identifying barriers to online learning and brainstorming possible solutions that would ensure all students can participate in digital learning experiences.
Their discussions and recommendations, published in a Technology, Mind and Behavior article, took place over multiple sessions and resulted in three major themes needed to design and implement effective online education:
- Creating online educational environments that don’t aim to substitute regular classroom instruction, but instead provide unique tools and methods teachers can use to provide high-quality teaching in a digital space
- Incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion when designing online educational environments, reviewing artificial intelligence algorithms to ensure they don’t perpetuate biases, and ensuring all students have access to the digital tools needed to participate in online learning
- Recruiting a diverse set of experts to collect, analyze and interpret data from online learning experiences
The expert panel also identified six topics within those three major themes that will allow all those involved in online education to create effective learning opportunities for students. These include better integration of the science of learning and the learning sciences; developing technologies for a greater diversity of learners; consideration of human factors; supporting social-emotional learning and self-regulated learning; expanding educational technology options for arts and humanities curriculum; and increasing collaboration across researchers, designers, developers, teachers and students.
“Having multiple viewpoints, goals and expertise can support the development of technologies that can evaluate and assess learners and other end users across a variety of dimensions and outcomes,” they wrote. “This will provide personalized instruction and feedback that keeps students excited, engaged and optimally learning.”
About the Researchers
Department of Learning Sciences
Kathryn McCarthy is an assistant professor in the Department of Learning Sciences. Her research explores the higher-order processes involved in reading comprehension and how these processes vary across disciplines and across readers. She also examines how both in-person interventions and educational technology can be leveraged to support successful learning from text. Her work has been supported by Georgia State University’s Center for Research on the Challenges of Acquiring Language and Literacy and its Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Online Education, and has received external funding from the Institute for Education Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation and the American Psychological Association Division 15’s Early Career Research Grant.
Department of Learning Sciences
Scott Crossley is a professor of applied linguistics and computer science in Georgia State University’s College of Arts and Sciences and an affiliate faculty member in the College of Education & Human Development’s Department of Learning Sciences. His primary research focuses on natural language processing and the application of computational tools and machine learning algorithms in language learning, writing and text comprehensibility. He is also interested in the development of second language learner lexicons and the potential to examine lexical growth and proficiency using computational algorithms. He has received external funding to support his research from the Institute for Education Sciences, the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation.
McCarthy, K. S., Crossley, S. A., et. al. “Toward More Effective and Equitable Learning: Identifying Barriers and Solutions for the Future of Online Education.” Technology, Mind and Behavior, 3(1: Spring 2022). https://doi.org/10.1037/tmb0000063.