Part 1: How Can EdTech be a Tool for Equity?

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Blog series: Scaling Evidence-Based Edtech in Postsecondary Education

Part 1: How Can EdTech be a Tool for Equity?

May 28, 2024 | By Hannah Cheever and Charles Harding

In this first blog post of a multi-part series on conversations with edtech developers, researchers, and practitioners, the Collaborative’s principal investigator Rebecca Griffiths spoke with Meaghan Duff, vice president of programs at the Minerva Project, and David Yaskin, CEO coach and consultant at Ed Tech Coaching and founder of Starfish Retention Solutions, about whether and how digital learning products can be designed with equity at the center.

Learn more about the Blog Series: Scaling Evidence-Based Edtech in Postsecondary Education and the experts.

Products that provide holistic support can raise student success. Yaskin points to inequities in the resources and help available to students. For example, first-generation students make up nearly half of incoming college students but may feel reluctant to seek help. Edtech products that facilitate access to a student success network—for instance, making it easy to schedule appointments for assistance or to identify areas of success—can help students thrive in college.

Products focused on pedagogical improvements can help faculty engage all students. Yaskin also notes that part-time college students often have more distractions and less time to focus, particularly if they also hold jobs. Edtech products that help faculty improve teaching skills and instructional quality—such as by making content more culturally relevant for different student groups—can engage students more in their learning.

There is an opportunity for edtech to meet upcoming challenges in attracting and recruiting students with diverse backgrounds. Duff explains that the market has been positively shaped by investments in designing products for historically marginalized students and the institutions that serve them. But as demographics shift in the coming years, it will become even more important for institutions to reach out and recruit marginalized and underserved student groups. Edtech developers can find ways to help facilitate that process.

Bringing diverse voices and leadership into product development is a key strategy. Duff notes that more people of color have been brought in to lead edtech product development as a result of philanthropic investments. Griffiths adds that getting a new educational enterprise off the ground may require a lot of personal resources that are not available to most people. More equitable funding is needed to ensure diverse leadership among edtech founders. Edtech accelerators and incubators can provide developers with needed financial support and broader access to the postsecondary market.

Stay tuned for more insights into scaling edtech in postsecondary education. In part 2 of this blog series, Duff and Yaskin discuss how entrepreneurs can think about who their customers are and what needs they should focus on when trying to break into a new market. In part 3, they offer strategies for successfully launching a new innovation.

View the full video conversation with captions.


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Tags: Equity Postsecondary Learning Technology