State : Massachusetts
Level : Postsecondary
Related Tags : Digital Equity
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Case Study: Learner and Educator Support for Learning and Teaching in Digital Environments at Quinsigamond Community College
Quinsigamond Community College (QCC) in Massachusetts recognizes the barriers their learners face in accessing broadband and technology tools for learning. They are committed to providing technical and program support to ensure all learners have the necessary resources to be successful in their coursework, particularly in courses taught in online (asynchronous) or remote (synchronous) learning environments. In addition to purchasing devices and hotspots for learners, QCC hired online advisors to support learners who are engaging online and remotely (beyond their existing academic advisors and faculty). These online advisors use both analog and digital communications to reach out to learners who are not engaging in courses, provide basic digital literacy training, and ensure structured support for course success.
At QCC, digital equity for learners is also intricately tied to faculty support. All QCC faculty members who are teaching an online or remote course are required to complete training in quality instructional methods. In addition, the QCC Center for Academic Excellence trains faculty on online course delivery and provides resources necessary to teach online. The Center for Academic Excellence’s ongoing staff development is not only led by leaders and experts but also by fellow faculty members. This peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing ensures that workshops are relevant and comprehensible for faculty member attendees.
QCC continues to use and expand on these digital equity strategies, even as in-person courses have returned. For example, QCC is leveraging data and learner experience feedback to ensure that taking courses online or remotely does not inequitably disadvantage learners. Specifically, they are using course success data to determine where learners need support and which learners need to be prioritized. Currently, QCC is seeing a 5 to 10 percent difference in course success rates between in-person and online/remote courses. QCC is also observing lower course success rates for Black learners, Hispanic learners, and learners who identify as men as compared to the full learner body. This demonstrates the work that is still needed and how critical QCC’s continued support is for providing high quality access to learners and educators.