Since the start of the pandemic, educators, leaders, and policymakers have undertaken substantial efforts to increase student access to devices and high-speed internet in an attempt to close the digital divide. However, improved digital access cannot be conflated with greater digital equity — the notion that students not only have access to and ownership of the tools that best support them as learners, but also the opportunity to develop the skills and competencies required to best leverage these digital resources within a system designed to sustain and deepen their education. The short-sighted focus solely on digital access continues to obfuscate the broader issue of digital equity.

Of particular concern, when it comes to education technology, ethics has largely been an unattended issue. Despite good intentions, schools and districts implement digital tools without considering the broader ramifications. This has become even more salient given the current social and political agendas driving education — and the role that technology plays in both arenas. With anti-LGTBQ+ laws on the rise, women’s reproductive rights under attack, books being banned, and educators feeling silenced by their school boards — ethics could offer educators and leaders a pathway to better support students through a focus on digital equity.

As leaders and educators address the ongoing challenges of the school year and look to implement new technologies, three ethical questions can guide decision making to ensure that all students can experience an education that helps them to reach their full potential. Whereas the first two explicitly address critical ethical challenges associated with technology, the third raises a broader question pertaining to the types of opportunities available for all students.

Question #1: Are we building equitable learning environments if we fail to address the unintended consequences of the technologies that we put in schools?

Question #2: Are we choosing the technology that best supports our students' learning if it makes them feel as though they are under constant surveillance?

Question #3: Are we ensuring that every student experiences an education to prepare them for success in a technology-rich world?

Read the full article about ethics in digital equity by Beth Holland at The Learning Accelerator.