The book Equity and Quality in Digital Learning: Realizing the Promise in K-12 Education pre-dates the astronomical pivot that educators experienced in 2020, in the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is perhaps most salient now that we have all experienced the highs and lows of online learning. In it, authors Carolyn J. Heinrich, Jennifer Darling-Aduana, and Annalee G. Good trace their findings after ten years researching and working with the Dallas and Milwaukee public school districts.
The main conclusion of the book is that in order for digital learning to succeed, it requires coordinated efforts at pre-planning, ongoing monitoring, and extensive support such as training for education workers. Without these, the authors argue, digital learning will only serve to exacerbate the challenges faced by marginalized learners in our classrooms, particularly special needs students and racialized students.
The strength of Equity and Quality in Digital Learning is the detailed research findings that support the authors’ conclusions. Educators who appreciate research methodology and hearing first-person accounts will enjoy this text. It’s not overly burdened with statistics, and is mostly written to be accessible for those without a research background; however, the book’s context, in diverse American school settings, does limit the extent to which Canadian readers can extrapolate to our own settings.
Where Heinrich, Darling-Aduana and Good fall short is in truly addressing the question of equity that they set out to tackle. They provide detailed advice, based on their research, for how to successfully implement digital learning, but their work on equity feels cursory. While Chapter 6, “Acting on the Evidence,” provides a clear path forward, and the book has a number of appendices that can be used by educators, our time demands a laser focus on the concern of equity.