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Top 5 Articles

Top 5 Articles on Anti-racism and Teaching and Learning Online

Compiled and annotated by Brittni Ballard, Kelsey Diemand, Niki Fullmer, Sam Harlow, and Kaiya Schroeder, members of the DOLS Anti-racism and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee.

The internet may technologically connect us more now than ever, but how socially connected are institutions and their teachers and learners? The five articles in this collection explore the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) when teaching and learning online. These articles offer an opportunity for librarians and instructors to reflect on the kind of colleagues and teachers we are while identifying actionable steps to pursue in our ongoing collective efforts to achieve and advance antiracist pedagogy.

Araujo Dawson, B., Kilgore, W., & Rawcliffe, R. (2022). Strategies for creating inclusive learning environments through a social justice lens. Journal of Educational Research and Practice, 12, https://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/jerap/vol12/iss0/2/ 

Dawson, Kilgore, and Rawcliffe (2022) provide context for online learning in higher education, including its limitations and barriers, specifically those that BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) or racialized people have experienced, while also defining inclusion in education. The article also discusses approaches, methods, and frameworks for creating an inclusive learning environment. The authors provide an overview of inclusive teaching practices and with them, emphasize student feelings of belonging, student perceptions of education and online learning, and the growing chasm of the digital divide and access to technology. In addition to giving an overview of theoretical frameworks, the article names potential barriers of BIPOC or racialized people and showcases instructional design elements, such as Universal Design for Learning principles to implement in the online classroom. This article also contains a robust appendix with examples of documents, classroom materials, rubrics, and more to serve as templates for instructors to take into their practice. This article provides a solid foundation for any educator hoping to understand how to take a holistic approach to online teaching with BIPOC or racialized people and why it is critical to do so. 

Takeaways:

  • Students’ learning needs differ between cultures and backgrounds. 
  • The theories of Culturally Responsive Teaching and Community of Inquiry (CoI) Model can be used as a basis to address inclusivity in the classroom.
  • Institutions and educators need to create online learning opportunities that are inclusive of the needs of BIPOC or racialized students. 

David L., J. H., & Davis, C. (2021). “The future started yesterday and we’re already late”: The case for antiracist online teaching. The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, 19, https://jitp.commons.gc.cuny.edu/the-future-started-yesterday-and-were-already-late-the-case-for-antiracist-online-teaching/ 

David and Davis (2021) write specifically about decentering whiteness in the online classroom, focusing on critical Black theory, and how race informs learners, classrooms, and teaching environments. This article provides tangible ideas that practitioners can adapt and implement in their own classrooms and online learning environments. While the beginning of this article includes some theory, the authors include practical applications for instructors, including inviting students to make real-world connections “between course content and racial justice” and curating an antiracist video call ethos (David and Davis, 2021). This article stresses that antiracist pedagogy anticipates and welcomes conflict and discomfort, but also nurtures inclusion and connection and benefits all students. 

Takeaways: 

  • Antiracist pedagogy for online education begins with “creating spaces that bring attention to race, class, gender, and ability.” (David and Davis, 2021, p. 6).
  • Since our backgrounds and values shape how we interact and engage with content, the online learning environment can be a sacred place, but also one of conflict.
  • White normativity is present in online education. This is a problem that needs to be addressed yesterday, so let’s get to work. 

Hunt, B. D., & Oyarzun, B. (2020). Online learning perspectives of Native American students. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 48(3), 321-334. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0047239519867921 

This article describes the pre-pandemic learning experiences of Native American students enrolled in online courses at a large, public, primarily residential four-year university. In Spring 2018, 29 self-identified Native American students enrolled in online courses at University of North Carolina at Charlotte were invited to participate in a semester-long study; two students—a first-year student and member of the Lumbee Tribe enrolled in an online math course, as well as a Masters level student and member of the Coharie Tribe enrolled in an online public policy course—agreed to participate. Participants were interviewed individually and each participant also completed three guided journal entries every four to five weeks throughout the semester. This article explores how teaching through “The Four Rs – Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, and Responsibility” of Indigenous education (a framework proposed in 1991 by Verna J. Kirkness and Ray Barnhardt) can facilitate more supportive, culturally responsive experiences for all. Most importantly, it reminds us that Native American students have the lowest graduation rate in the country, at 39.4%, and critically invites us to consider how our work benefits online education and American Indian education.

I’ve never had that opportunity in any class I’ve taken elsewhere, online or not. While I knew the subject of this class may not pertain to my specific culture, it would be nice to feel like I had the option to represent myself and my tribe as a part of my education. (Participant 1, Journal Entry 1)

Takeaways: 

  • Teach the students we have: Student bodies are becoming increasingly diverse; as of 2015, Hispanic enrollment increased from 4% to 17%, Black enrollment increased from 10% to 14%, Asian/Pacific Islander enrollment increased from 2% to 7%, and Native enrollment increased from 0.7% to 0.8%. Cultural localization, defined as a holistic restructure of a product that incorporates values, ideals, and preferences of learning of a target population, is a necessary response at the level of individual instructor and institution.
  • It starts with us: To build and maintain a classroom community, personal connections between all members including the teacher are essential. To aid in the development of social presence, instructors should share information about their background and current lives as well as provide platforms for students to do the same.
  • But it’s not all about us: Success will mean something different to each student. Incorporating student choice regarding research topics and supporting preferences regarding group or individual work is one way to help all learners achieve the experience and outcome they desire.

Tynes, B. M., Stewart, A., Hamilton, M., & Willis, H. A. (2021). From Google Searches to Russian Disinformation: Adolescent critical race digital literacy needs and skills. International journal of multicultural education, 23(1), 110-130. https://doi.org/10.18251/ijme.v23i1.2463  

This 2021 article conducts a study on Black and Latinx adolescents skills related to critical race digital literacy and evaluating race-related materials online. This type of literacy focuses on how internet users evaluate sources for negative stereotypes of historically oppressed groups, examine the creators’ intentions related to racism, and create or share online materials that do not perpetuate racism and stereotypes. To examine this type of literacy, approximately 300 adolescents performed four tasks or scenarios and then answered a series of questions on the following prompts: search using Google; examine a Kanye West Tweet; watch a political video about building a border wall; and review a fake Blackivist campaign on Facebook. This study found that in most of these activities, the adolescents were fairly adept at evaluating Google searches for race issues, analyzing a website, and detecting racism in a video, but they struggled with recognizing propaganda, disinformation campaigns, and misinformation. The authors mention the importance of lateral reading as an evaluation technique, but stress this is not enough to help adolescents navigate the complicated layers of racism and misinformation on the internet. The authors of this article recommend a revamped digital and media literacy curriculum for adolescents with a focus on race, particularly critical race digital literacy skills. 

Takeaways: 

  • There is much work that needs to be done by educators to help adolescents, college students, and adults be critical and anti-racist in their internet use. 
  • When teaching students digital evaluation techniques, educators should be implementing not only lateral reading strategies, but incorporating critical race digital literacy within the curriculum. 
  • This study shows that librarians have an opportunity to create tutorials and workshops on critical race digital literacy. 

Yao, C. W., & Boss, G. J. (2019). “A hard space to manage”: The experiences of women of color faculty teaching online. Journal of Women and Gender in Higher Education, 13(1), 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1080/19407882.2019.1639197 

Yao and Boss (2019) investigate how women of color (WOC) faculty experience teaching asynchronous, online instruction through a theoretical framework of embodiment, or how our bodies influence our interactions and perception of other people. The authors conducted semi-structured interviews with nine WOC faculty members to understand how teaching dynamics might change when their bodies are unseen to both their students and colleagues. The study found that WOC faculty members cannot be fully (dis)embodied in their asynchronous online instruction, but the virtual space provides them the opportunity to create their own stories and narrative of themselves. Multiple study participants remarked on the importance of “showing” themselves to their students and saw displaying their identities as a function to center their teachings. The authors noted that all participants felt a lack of support navigating online instruction related to their identities and bodies, and received little to no formal training on pedagogical techniques to asynchronous online instruction.

Takeaways: 

  • WOC faculty feel that it is important to share their identities with their students, whether that is in a traditional brick and mortar classroom or an asynchronous online class.
  • Merleau-Ponty’s embodiment framework can be adopted to understand teaching in a face-to-face classroom and online environment.
  • Institutions must better prepare and support WOC faculty on how they approach embodiment in the classroom.