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Last week was the second annual Peralta Equity Conference*. For those who might not know, Peralta Community College is one of the leaders when it comes to thinking about the ways in which we can make any online content to support our teaching more equitable. They have lead the charge by creating the widely-adopted Peralta Online Equity Rubric. While this was originally created for online courses, the guidelines in the rubric can easily be applied for all modes of instruction.

There is a lot to unpack in the rubric, so let’s focus instead on an individual aspect of the rubric and ask ourselves a few key questions to get the ‘equity ball rolling’.


Rubric Criteria: Course structure & activities mitigate digital divide & technology access issues (a) by clarifying how required technologies support learning, and (b) by providing alternative pathways to complete course activities if students face barrier

Some things to ask ourselves to make the technology in our course more equitable:

  • Do my students need dedicated online access to interact with the tool or content/complete tasks?
  • What is the cost of the technology for my students?
  • Does this technology add to (or overwhelm) my students’ learning experiences?

Universal Design For Learning (UDL)

Rubric Criteria: Course content and activities are aligned with core principles of UDL– i.e., multiple means of representation, action & expression, and/or engagement.

Some things to ask ourselves in order to support UDL:

  • Are my materials/tools accessible (able to be used by all regardless of ability)?
    • If not, do I provide an equal and equitable alternative?
  • Do I have a range of materials to allow for learner preference (video, text, audio, etc.)? Do the tools I use have alternatives for students?
  • Can I scaffold my assessments/tasks so that students are doing them step-by-step? How can I incorporated strategies & support?

Human Bias

Rubric Criteria: Human biases are identified in course content and activities.

Some things to ask ourselves to identify human bias:

  • Do the tools I use have the potential for a negative “impact on motivation and persistence”?
    • If yes:
      • Ask yourself why the tool needs to be used
      • How you can think of ways to alleviate that impact.
      • Alternatives that create community and address diversity.
  • How does the vendor represent students in their support and online materials?
  • How can I get students to reflect on/provide feedback on their experience to use the tool more equitably (survey, ePortfolio, reflections, journals)?

Because it can be overwhelming to assess our online course materials for equity, a manageable way to go about this is taking one criterion with the questions that follow and review a weekly module in our course. This can help us look at our materials through the lenses of our students. If there are things that need to be changed, we can take note, check out various resources for equity-centric practices (@One and Faculty Focus have many ideas) and incorporate them for our following week’s materials. By asking ourselves just one or two questions every few weeks, we are starting a very tangible and pragmatic reflective teaching practice grounded in equity.

*If you missed the conference, archives will be posted soon. There are also archives from the 2021 conference available.

Questions based on the presentation, Equity, Access & Instructional Technology for GCC 2021 Flex Day by Katie Datko.

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