Digital equity: Considering the needs of staff as a social justice issue

Keywords: staff professional development, technology, higher education, faculty development, capacity building, equity, empathy

Abstract

The rollout of technological advances in tertiary teaching and learning continues unabated. Concerns around staff lag in acceptance and adoption may overlook hidden influences. While considerations to address the digital divide and digital equity for tertiary students has been a growing social justice issue since the 1980s, what of the academic and professional staff who facilitate their teaching and learning? They are the other side of the coin and, as a cohort, are as diverse as the students they teach. Today, building staff capacity in the implementation of technology in teaching and learning in higher education still remains a key need. Yet a one-size-fits-all approach may miss the differing needs, views and capabilities of staff. It may also be built and developed upon explicit assumptions relating to staff access, skills and ability. For an equity-based approach to building staff capacity through professional development, empathy is required in purveying staff values, abilities, and needs. To address such issues and empower staff, a robust professional development program on digital technology is but one means to help stem the digital divide between staff haves and have-nots.

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Author Biography

Julie Willems, Monash University

Dr. Julie Willems is an Australian academic who holds qualifications in Nursing, the Humanities, and Education. Her research areas include educational equity; learning and teaching in higher education and continuing professional development; educational technologies; resilience; communication in disasters; and rural health. Julie was a recipient of the auDA Foundation's national 2011 research grant for the i-Survive Project exploring the use of ‘back channel’ communications via mobile social media during Australian emergencies and disasters.

 

 

 

Julie has worked on the Executive of both ODLAA (2011-2014) and ASSCILITE (2015- ). She founded and runs the association’s Digital Equity special interest group (SIG) and was the founding organising committee member for the ASCILITE 2018 Conference. As a member of the ASCILITE Executive, her areas of focus include policy and guidelines. She has been recently recognised as a leader in open, online and distance learning in the Australia-Pacific region. Julie currently works for Monash University Rural Health and East Victoria GP Training.

 

 

Published
2019-12-28
Section
Special Issue 2019 - Digital Equity