DEI Practices In Teaching & Learning

DEI Practices In Teaching & Learning

The following story was contributed to the OLC Global community as a way to further progress on digital learning equity and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It uses a storytelling tool called the OLC Framework for Storying Digital Learning Change Work, which is an open resource for using narrative practices to map the UN SDGs to online, blended, and digital learning. Learn more about the framework and download it from the OLC Research Center website.

Project Leader

Summer Issawi, Learning Experience Designer, Michigan State University, United States

Project Collaborators

Samar Mohamed, Instructional Designer

Chris Pilgrim, Assistant Director, Distance Learning Mississippi State University, United States

About the Project

While it is likely that most educators strive for fair and inclusive interactions in the classroom, DEI practices are not always at the forefront or might even remain unknown. Our Best Practices Guide serves to break down sometimes vague DEI concepts into actionable items ready for implementation in classrooms and other learning environments.

By encouraging educators globally to implement and improve upon the curated practices, this site will continue to evolve towards an up-to-date repository of practices and supporting theory that might be able to drive sustainable change in education. In leveraging the student voice as well, this guide will crowdsource experiences from the vital student perspective. Thus educators and students globally will have the opportunity to impact this potential wave of change. In true educator fashion, please help us share this guide as we continue to collaborate and iterate. Thank You!

Please find our resource here

Part 1—Narrative Places

Story of Self

I work with faculty and students to design meaningful learning experiences. I make a difference in people’s lives and that’s what’s most important to me and my career. Education has always been an integral part of life and real passion. Teaching and learning is a big challenge and it’s one of the most important things in the world. If I can make a difference within the realm of teaching and learning then I am happy. (i.e. if I can help an educator learn something new, help them increase their confidence, or design a better learning experience, etc.)

Story of Us

I love connecting people and resources. I love people and I love to lend a helping hand however I can. I love to serve my community in efforts to making this world a better place.

Story of Now

Our schools need better access and an increase in quantity of technology devices as well as internet access.

Part 2—Living Framework

Situate Story

At the beginning of the pandemic (let’s say Friday, March 13, 2020) we witnessed a major disparity in our educational systems. A friend who teaches in a private school was online with her students the very following Monday and didn’t have any tech device issues or internet concerns. My elementary aged children in public school were back online after (3 weeks for the mandatory shutdown plus an additional week for Spring Break) 4 weeks of no schooling and that was also the same week that our Chromebooks were handed out to those who need it. To those in need, wifi hotspots came another few more weeks later. We were lucky to have those Chromebooks as they were donated to our schools from a large and local corporation and additional funds from the school’s foundation (a charitable organization administered by community members) were also utilized. We’ve all heard the stories about districts who were able to quickly and easily spring into action (in terms of money and access) while others struggled to get by. Schools that were privileged to take their teaching outdoors, or those who purchased pricy air purifiers and robot mops, and didnt have any tech or internet issues. While watching the news, I will never forget the image of the two little black girls sitting outside of a fast food restaurant so they can complete their homework and utilize the wifi access.

If we the public had shortages of toilet paper and disinfecting wipes, I can only imagine how hard the struggle was for some…and this was students of ALL AGES and and from low income homes who were already struggling academically! (Black, Latinx, etc.) While many providers supplied free wifi for these homes and communities, we also witnessed how easy it was for them to do this. With about the click of a button, magically, disadvantaged students got the access they needed.

The pandemic exacerbated these critical needs. This is also a social justice issue as these students are excluded from equitable and inclusive practices simply because of their zip code. Since this is a challenge that plagues us all, the world needs to come together (various industries, governments, human rights and international organizations) to improve or solve it and especially for the future of humanity.

Define Story

Who are the local actors in this story?

K12 students, teachers, internet providers, tech stores, and local/large nonprofit organizations.

Who are the global actors in this story?

Students and educators worldwide, large corporations to make financial contributions, tech suppliers, internet providers, United Nations and other large nonprofit organizations.

What desirable actions do these local/global actors maintain?

Students and teachers are the backbone of their communities. Students deserve equitable and inclusive access to technology and wifi. We must advance and keep up with this connected world and it begins with our children as they will be our future. Its our responsibility to educate and equip them with the tools necessary for success.
What undesirable actions do these local/global actors maintain?

Some students are struggling to get caught up or maintain the academics at their current grade level. Some might also utilize tech and access in harmful ways.
Some teachers and students struggle with technology and that makes it difficult to implement.

How are these actions significant in local contexts?

If students aren’t performing well on standardized testing then their scores go down and housing values decrease as well. That increases the crime rates and disadvantages the community as a whole.

If students are engaging with academics, sports, or employment after school then they’re less likely to get in trouble at home or around town. These actions are significant as they might help reduce the achievement gap in our current K12 educational system.
How are these actions significant in global contexts?

If we don’t act then we would put our country at a disadvantage. Our students would continue to fall behind and struggle to get into college or get a job. Closing the achievement gap is a global concern, as well.What motivates you to address these actions?

I care deeply for students and educators. They are the backbone of society and future of our communities. Our students depend on adult reasoning and action, so we must do for them what they cannot do on their own.
Why is new action necessary among the systems you define?

If we don’t act then we might suffer from irreversible consequences. The educational system might continue to trend downwards overall as some might lose faith. This problem has been around for a while now but it was further exposed during the pandemic. We also saw the possibility of a solution in several instances so why can’t we do that now and in a sustainable fashion.


Reimagine Story

New Action Example 1

What new action might you take to address this challenge? 

Rally the United Nations to support students and educators worldwide in leveraging and increasing access to all. The UN would lead this initiative and get large corporations to make financial contributions, tech suppliers, internet providers, and other large nonprofit organizations to collaborate on the solutions.

How might this action prove significant in your local context?

We can copy the model on a local level and make a real difference for our communities. If it can be done large scale it should be doable at a small scale.

How might this action prove significant in the global context? 

If it can be done globally then others should be able to leverage this model. It would remind us that we’re all in this together and that we can collaborate on large-scale solutions.

What motivates you to undertake this action?

This would be a game-changer. People’s lives would be changed forever and if we can work together to achieve this then what else can we do?

How can global collaboration support this action?

We can set a year to reach this goal and work with all of the members of the community and supporters to draft a plan. At the end of the project, those plans would pass along to the next global project, eventually getting to local models.

What resources do you need in order to act?

The UN to own this initiative, local communities and supporters to get involved, supporters to donate money.

New Action Example 2

What new action might you take to address this challenge?

Work in an ad hoc fashion to allow local groups to apply for funds to execute this project. This method would be incentivized and plans would have to be shared with the organizer so that others can benefit. The UN would be the founding organizer and owner of this initiative to accept or reject applications.

How might this action prove significant in your local context?

Our K12 students would benefit greatly and we’d have more of an equitable experience and educators won’t have to worry or spend lots of time on this issue or its workarounds (temporary solutions that only work in the meantime). I like that ownership that the local community has. They should be the ones making the decisions and driving this project forward. I’m sure they’d inspire and collaborate with other local groups to make this impact a positive one. 

How might this action prove significant in the global context?

This model can inspire other groups to work together and make a difference. The more experience we have with local and global groups, the better the outcomes will be. So much of this work is replicable so we’ll use instance to try something new or iterate on the previous design. Working within a global model will truly make a difference in the world.  

What motivates you to undertake this action?

This would change the world and truly impact and improve lives. This would open so many doors for people and I think that in itself will be a game changer as well (i.e. so many more opportunities will come out of this action.)

How can global collaboration support this action?

The global aspect might influence more folks (and more folks who are remote) to get on board with this worldwide venture. Folks might be more likely to engage if it’s part of a worldwide effort.

What resources do you need in order to act?

We’d need local communities and supporters to get involved, supporters to donate money. We’d need the UN to come up with the proposal templates they’re looking for as well as rubric for assessing each proposal. We would need these resources at a local and global level. The UN would need funding for this work.

New Action Example 3
What new action might you take to address this challenge?
The UN and several of the largest corporations, tech suppliers, and internet providers would come together to fund and execute the delivery of tech and installation of internet/wifi access to all of those who need it.
How might this action prove significant in your local context?
All of our community members will now have access to the world wide web thus unlocking a whole new world of possibilities for all.

How might this action prove significant in the global context?
Globally, we would all connect moreso.

What motivates you to undertake this action?
This would allow us to create a better world to live in.

How can global collaboration support this action?
Global collaborators are necessary to take this initiative to all corners of the world. We need local and global to ensure collaboration and efforts on both fronts.

What resources do you need in order to act?
We’d need lots of funding for all of this to happen and we’d need several larger groups to come together and own this cause.


What one new action are you inspired to pursue?
I love example 2 because it puts our communities in the driver’s seat. I’d love to hear the creative and meaningful ways they come up with to make this happen. This is also important because we need these same communities to carry this forward and iterate as needed (as this wont be just a one time implementation sort of initiative).


Part 3—Antenarrative Inquiry

SDGs Connected

Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities


SDG  10: Reduced Inequalities

  • How might new action bring about the aspirational vision of the world as contextualized by this SDG?

Improving DEI within our educational institutions and learning spaces can help combat inequality at the ground level.

  • Who will be responsible?

Educators, students, support staff, and all others working with and around the field of education

  • What opportunities exist for collaboration?

Collaboration within and between institutions, governments, and NGO will be paramount to ensure diverse voices are heard and included in this work

  • Who will be affected?

Educators, students, support staff, and all others working with and around the field of education. Also society at large

  • Who will maintain the action? 

Educators, students, support staff, and all others working with and around the field of education

  • What may success look like?

Implementation of the resources prepared in our toolkit

  • What may impede success?

Lack of funding or prioritization of these challenges 

  • How will you collect feedback? 
  • What ongoing resources are needed?

New resources can be added to this tool as they are created

  • If desirable, how may new action be sustained?

Spread, share, and use our guide. We hope the more it is in the world, the better chance it has to create sustainable change


Our group quickly identified DEI and inequality as elements of our work that we shared in common and had relevance to the SDGs.


Please share this tool and we welcome any and all feedback. Given the OER nature of this, we also welcome updates to the resource that we can add

Inspired by this story and want to share as well? We encourage you to submit your story using our online form.
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