Race and learning technology

Happy, absorbed smartphone users in a row

The appearance of ‘Decolonise the curriculum’ initiatives at many UKHEIs in recent years has prompted discussions around diversity, change and improving racial representation in our institutions. When we as educators work toward an ‘inclusive curriculum’, where does digital learning fit in? Who is responsible for inclusivity within digital learning content? How can we begin to describe this problem and its impact on our work? Who holds a stake in digital learning as it relates to race? How can we begin to evoke the change required to influence representation in terms of digital content, our own profession and research?

Key texts

Author talk by Ruha Benjamin at San Francisco Public Library (2020. This talk (which begins at 5:00 and lasts for about an hour) encapsulates many of the ideas in Benjamin’s 2019 book, Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code.

The downloadable paper Advancing Racial Literacy in Tech, which suggest a framework for doing less harm to communities of colour in the tech we create, written by recent Fellows from Data and Society, an independent non-profit studying the social implications of automation.

Charles, E. 2019. “Decolonizing the Curriculum”. Insights 32 (1): 24. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.475 This piece provides an overview of decolonising initiatives at UKHIs.

Further reading

The recent Netflix documentary, Coded Bias (1:25 duration).

Elias, A., Paradies, Y. The Costs of Institutional Racism and its Ethical Implications for Healthcare. Bioethical Inquiry (2021). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-020-10073-0 Describes how racism “can creep in every aspect of life and crystalize into pervasive institutional racism”.

Perkowitz, S. The Bias in the Machine: Facial Recognition Technology and Racial Disparities. MIT Schwartzman College of Computing (2021) Available at: https://mit-serc.pubpub.org/pub/bias-in-machine/release/1 An accessible and recent discussion of the “undesirable societal consequences arising from the uncritical use of FRT algorithms”.

The UCLA Promise Institute report Human Rights Racial Equality and New Information Technologies: Mapping the Structural Threats (2020) A number of leading researchers address the intersection of race and technology.

Some questions to think about

  • How does technology through the lens of race manifest in education?
  • How does race inform learning design in your context?
  • If you are unsure, how might you explore this?
  • What are some concrete ways to diversify digital education?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *