Achieving Inclusive Innovation in the Classroom and Beyond
Originally posted May 2022
Sponsored by Cisco Canada
By Wayne Cuervo, Director of Innovation, Cisco Canada
When we think about an ideal learning environment, creating a sense of belonging for students should be top of the list.
Ensuring a sense of belonging provides space for students to ask questions and to share their perspectives while creating a richer and more dynamic learning environment for students and educators alike. However, innovation in education is rarely inclusive on its own. One way to get there is by implementing smart innovations that create inclusive learning environments and reinforce feelings of belonging.
Here are some of the ways educators can bridge the gap to accessibility to ensure a sense of belonging in their classroom.
Adopt Inclusive Language
There is strength in our differences, but when teachers don’t prioritize the diverse experiences of their students, the learning environment and the student experience suffers. Students that may be joining the class with a different baseline of cultural references may have trouble keeping up with lessons, connecting with their peers, or in some cases, understanding the course material. This is especially true for subjects that often use culturally specific analogies, such as coding or media technologies. Intentionally implementing inclusive language, analogies and references can provide students with the best opportunity to keep up with course lessons and reach their full potential.
Implement Inclusive Technology
Over the last two years, technology has presented the opportunity to level the playing field for all students through the wide adoption of hybrid learning. Tools like Webex have democratized access to information based on students preferred time, location and learning accommodations. Webex specifically offers accessibility tools such as closed captions, video recording and translations, which enable teachers to create a more inclusive learning environment for all.
Review Classroom Tools
While technology has enabled students and educators to create a more inclusive learning experience, we’ve also seen the potential for technology to further divide communities when not adopted properly.. Take AI-enabled tools for instance. It is important to understand that AI models are trained on the data provided, and often references the unconscious biases of the designer or developer. Therefore, if the data set used to inform grading systems and safety and security measures fails to include information on students from marginalized demographics, these tools are more likely to carry biases that further amplify discrimination felt by these students.
Embedding inclusivity throughout every aspect of the teaching practice is key for creating an inclusive world where students can thrive and meet their full potential. From the language used to technology implemented, there are innovations big and small that can make all the difference for students and educators. This may seem like a big feat, but there are tools available to support educators through this process, helping to create a more inclusive learning environment for all.
Learn more about Cisco’s Education tools here.