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The Price of Presence: How Classroom Culture Suffocates Diverse Learners


Imagine this

Imagine this: You are a student from a marginalized background. You wake up every morning and go to school, where you face a barrage of microaggressions, bullying, discrimination, and violence. You sit through classes that erase or distort your history, culture, and identity. You take tests that measure your abilities based on biased norms and expectations. You look around and see no one who looks like you, talks like you, or thinks like you - you feel unimportant and unseen.

Sounds like a nightmare, right? Well, for millions of students in the U.S., this is their reality. And it’s not only unfair but also harmful for their well-being and development.


The Dark Side of In-Person Schooling

In-person schooling may seem like the norm, but it’s actually a relic of the past. The traditional model was designed for students who fit the mold of the dominant culture. Historically, the traditional educational model has struggled to cater to the diverse needs of all students, including people of color, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, refugees, low-income people, neurodivergent individuals and people with disabilities.

Don’t believe it? Just look at the facts. According to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics, students from marginalized backgrounds are more likely to attend high-poverty schools, have less-qualified teachers, receive less-rigorous instruction, and have lower graduation rates than their peers from more-advantaged backgrounds.

But that’s not all. In-person schooling also exposes marginalized students to a host of personal and academic dangers. They have to deal with microaggressions, bullying, discrimination, and violence from their peers and teachers on a daily basis. They have to endure a curriculum that erases or distorts their histories, cultures, and identities. They have to face standardized tests that measure their abilities based on biased norms and expectations. And they have to cope with a lack of representation and role models among their educators and administrators

All these factors contribute to lower academic achievement, higher dropout rates, and lower self-esteem, leading to poorer mental health outcomes for marginalized students. Traditional in-person schooling has limitations in meeting the unique needs of every student, and the data shows it has actually hurt the well-being and development of marginalized students.


The Bright Side of Digital Learning Programs

So what’s the solution? How can we provide quality education for all students regardless of their background? The answer is simple: digital learning programs.

Digital learning programs are online platforms that deliver instruction through various mediums, including videos, texts, games, simulations, and interactive activities. They allow students to learn at their own pace, place, and path. They also enable students to access diverse and relevant content that reflects their interests and goals.

Digital learning programs offer many benefits for diverse learners. Here are some of them:


Digital learning programs allow students to choose when, where, and how they want to learn. They can fit their learning around their schedules, responsibilities, and preferences. They can also adjust their learning according to their abilities, needs, and challenges.


Digital learning programs allow students to customize their learning according to their goals and aspirations. They can select the topics, levels, formats, and feedback that suit them best. They can also track their progress and achievements using data and analytics.


Digital learning programs allow students to access high-quality education regardless of their location or situation. They can overcome geographic barriers and connect with teachers and peers from around the world. They can also overcome physical barriers and use assistive technologies that accommodate their disabilities or impairments.


Digital learning programs allow students to take charge of their own learning and development. They can explore their passions and potentials without being limited by stereotypes or expectations. They can also express their voices and opinions without being silenced or shamed.


The Cutting Edge of AI in Digital Learning

Digital learning programs are not only awesome by themselves but also amazing when combined with AI. It’s almost certain you’ve been hearing about AI - but have you thought about its potential for the digital learning space?

AI is transforming the world of digital learning in many ways. Here are some examples:


AI can create personalized learning paths for each student based on their data and feedback. It can also adapt the content and delivery according to their preferences and performance.


AI can generate engaging and interactive content for each student based on their interests and goals. It can also create realistic simulations and scenarios that challenge them to apply their skills and knowledge.


AI can provide instant and individualized feedback for each student based on their actions and outcomes. It can also offer guidance and support when they encounter difficulties or confusion.


AI can assess each student’s progress and achievement using various measures, such as quizzes, tests, projects, portfolios, badges, certificates etc. It can also provide recommendations and suggestions for improvement or enrichment.


The Real Deal of Digital Learning Programs

Of course, digital learning programs are not perfect. They have some challenges and limitations that need to be addressed. Some of these challenges include:


How can we ensure that digital learning programs are high-quality and evidence-based? How can we evaluate their effectiveness and impact?


How can we make digital learning programs affordable and accessible for all students? How can we reduce the digital divide and ensure equity?


How can we foster social interaction and collaboration among students in digital learning programs? How can we promote a sense of community and belonging?


How can we motivate students to engage in digital learning programs? How can we prevent boredom or frustration?

These are valid concerns that require careful consideration and creative solutions. However, they are not insurmountable obstacles that prevent us from embracing digital learning programs as a viable option for education.


The Final Word on Digital Learning Programs

Let’s recap. Traditional in-person schooling is not only outdated but can also be harmful for students from marginalized backgrounds. Digital learning programs offer a great supplemental learning experience for diverse learners. Digital learning programs offer a better alternative for diverse learners. And AI is transforming the world of digital learning by creating new possibilities for personalization in education.

The future of education is unfolding with these advances in technology. Embrace these opportunities for yourself and your children before they fly right past you.