Ethical Online Learning: Critical Pedagogy and Social Justice
For all of the ‘disruption’ of education that Silicon Valley talks about, most of today’s edtech merely digitizes the ineffective aspect of the past education. MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are simply digital versions of the very maligned big group lecture. Online textbooks are another unidirectional method of information delivery, and virtual flashcards are just another tool for useless memorization.
The current surge of education technology is filled with replications of the least-favorable parts of learning and teaching, all of which are not sound, pedagogically. In this article, we will discuss the role of critical pedagogy and social justice in the online learning environment. Read on for more.
In essence, critical pedagogy is an approach to teaching that aims to help students challenge and question domination and the practices and beliefs that dominate. In other words, it is a theory and practice of aiding students in their pursuit of critical consciousness.
It is defined by habits of thought, writing, reading, and talking that delve beneath the meaning’s surface, as well as a host of other terms. When critical pedagogy is applied, the teacher leads the learners to question practices and ideologies that are considered oppressive.
This includes those at school, and teachers encourage liberatory individual and collective responses to their actual life conditions. A student generally starts as a member of the process or group (religion, cultural norms) that they are studying critically. After they have reached a revelation where they view society as problematic, they are encouraged to share this knowledge and attempt to change society’s oppressive nature.
The Need for Social Justice in Education
Now more than ever, there is a need for leaders to affect changes in social policies in K-12 education. In California, a state where over 6 million children participate in K-12 public education, funding allocations designed for disadvantaged students have not yet recovered from budget cuts due to the recession.
Schools with the most significant demand for English Learners courses do not have enough capable teachers or leaders. Black, Latino, and Native American students are more likely to be found in schools with large populations of economically disadvantaged students.
The bottom line? There are flaws and gaps in the education system that are not measured and tracked using standard achievement scorecards. These innate gaps are closed for privileged families that have access to resources not from school but are still wide open for students from underprivileged families.
What Does This Have to Do With Online Learning?
When it comes to online learning, the opportunity for critical pedagogy is often not presented to students due to the distance format. Thus, distance learners are not questioning the systems that are present in their society and are not made aware of social injustices.
Educators must present critical pedagogy opportunities and petition for social justice changes at their institution, even though the online learning format. Just because students are learning from a distance doesn’t mean that they cannot be subject to social injustices.
An underprivileged student may have access to a computer and the internet, but that’s not enough to make them any less disadvantaged.
Critical pedagogy and social justice are just as crucial in the online classroom as they are in the physical one, and both students and educators must be aware of this. We must not neglect social justice when learning at a distance.