Even before the global pandemic pushed many colleges and universities to teach students remotely, online learning had become an increasingly important part of higher education.

Yet, as this spring’s pivot to online learning showed us, equity remains a significant challenge.

Debate about the fairness of online learning tends to revolve around technology access. And there are indeed sharp disparities in home access to computers and reliable broadband service.

But equity in online learning is more than simply making sure students have decent technology and fast internet. Every student — not just the marginalized and disenfranchised — needs sound course design, sufficient student support and testing programs that make sense and protect integrity.

My company, StraighterLine, exists to help get students halfway through college by quickly and affordably completing their prerequisites. We have partnerships to recognize credits with 150 colleges and universities. We’ve been on the front lines of equity and access for more than a decade, and we know how financial challenges, a lack of opportunities in high school or simply life’s twists and turns can prevent someone from completing a degree.

Three critical elements of online learning make it fair for everyone.

  1. Courses must be designed so that content is easily accessible.
  2. Academic support must be readily available through multiple means.
  3. Tests must be reliable, secure and proctored, either in person or online.

Read the full article about implementing equity in online learning by Amy Smith at The Hechinger Report.