Disparities in student’s remote/virtual learning experiences

Sherrie Borowsky, Director, Office of Access and Disability Services (ADS)

Raquel Esteves-Joyce, Office of Academic Resources

Alex Cooke, Office of Academic Resources

Context and Concepts

Due to the inequity of funding and resources in education, not all of our incoming students may have had adequate or equal preparation for remote/virtual learning.

Some high schools may have done a great job going remote in the Spring while others struggled making the pivot to online learning, grappling to ensure their students had adequate technological resources. If they were able to provide them, they also needed to create tutorials for students and their families on how to use certain programs, access their work, and how to learn asynchronously when they may not have even been familiar with that term beforehand.

Further complicating matters, many students may have found themselves with increased family responsibilities, less time, support and a quiet space to do their work, as well as other challenging situations, such as food and housing insecurity. All of these factors would have negatively impacted their remote learning experience.

The links below are a compilation of articles that highlight some the challenges many of the incoming students faced in their senior year of high school. They provide context and help us better understand the support they might need from us

We realize that even with our wonderful faculty’s work, students might need extra support this semester. This can be provided by Deans, OAR, IITS, Writing Center, ADS and CAPS, all of which are here to serve students.

Readings about disparities in virtual learning

#RealCollege During the PandemicThe Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, Temple University

This report examines the pandemic’s impact on students, from their basic needs and security to their well-being, as indicated by employment status, academic engagement, and mental health.

America is about to start online learning, Round 2. For millions of students, it won’t be any better.

School officials nationwide, caught up in the reopening debate, had little time to prepare for online learning.  By Hannah Natanson and Valerie Strauss

L.A. Latino, Black students suffered deep disparities in online learning, records show

“More than 50,000 Black and Latino middle and high school students in Los Angeles did not regularly participate in the school system’s main platform for virtual classrooms after campuses closed in March, a reflection of the deep disparities faced by students of color amid the COVID-19 pandemic and of the difficulties ahead as L.A. Unified prepares for continued online learning.”

Disparities in Remote Learning Under Coronavirus, by Benjamin Herold, April 10, 2020, in Education Week 

– this article explains with graphs/charts the disparities and inequities that many students face in preparing for virtual learning. 

Student Perspectives: the pros and cons of distance learning 

by Karina Mascorro, David Sanchez, Valeria Echeverria, and Ronishlla Maharaj

– interviews with highschool students at West Contra Costa in California regarding their experiences with online learning.

I thought this might be helpful to elucidate student concerns without pressuring current students of Haverford to share vulnerable experiences when they don’t feel safe to do so 

The shift to online learning could worsen the educational gap, by Anna North, in Vox. 

This article describes the home situations and access barriers of many FIGLI students. I don’t include it for the purpose of arguing against online learning, rather, to demonstrate the inequities to a robust and fruitful online education. 

The Promises and Pitfalls of Online Education 

From the Brookings Institution 

This more academic article describes how online learning must adapt to meet the needs of students even more so than in person education. 

When coronavirus hit, schools moved online. Some students didn’t.

“As the pandemic has forced classes online, not all students have been able to follow”

Survey reveals stark rich-poor divide in how U.S. children were taught remotely during the spring school closures

Low-income children reviewed old material while high-income children learned new things.

As School Moves Online, Many Students Stay Logged Out

Teachers at some schools across the country report that fewer than half of their students are participating in online learning.

Philly schools chief says internet providers refuse to open their networks so students can access education

by Kristen A. Graham, Updated: May 20, 2020

Why many Philly students aren’t logging on for school, and what that could mean for September

by Kristen A. Graham, Maddie Hanna and Jesenia De Moya Correa, Updated: May 24, 2020