Read Equitable Delivery of Career Development Through Technologies, the latest brief in ACTE and Xello’s student career development series. It was written by Stephen DeWitt, deputy executive director of ACTE.
Technology has the power to transform learning.
Many innovative tools exist to help students, parents and teachers navigate career exploration and development activities. The savvy use of educational technology presents significant benefits:
- Improving the learning environment
- Increasing access to high-quality career and technical education (CTE) programs of study
“Regardless, access and equity challenges persist” in CTE.
The fifth Student Career Development publication from ACTE and Xello suggests that CTE educators begin with the Quality CTE Program of Study Framework. The framework’s Access and Equity and Student Career Development elements offers guidance on equitable delivery of high-quality CTE.
Access and equity
Career guidance must be “offered to all potential and current program of study participants in a manner that is free from bias, inclusive and nondiscriminatory.”
Student career development
This element reinforces the notion that “each CTE student in the program of study [should have] a personalized, multi-year education and career plan.” This plan should reflect exploration activities and inform course selection.
Other components of the Framework address eliminating barriers to access and practicing effective communication of student data. These criteria may help CTE professionals evaluate technology to gauge accessibility for learners as well as to ensure equitable delivery. Consider the following questions to ask about potential ed tech:
- Is the content free from bias?
- Does it support each student in the classroom through a structured and individualized career plan?
- Are individual student interests taken into consideration and addressed?
A success story
Several years ago, Saint Paul Public Schools, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, launched an initiative to focus on college and career readiness. They set a goal to help every student plan for and reach their dreams, with an adult to “walk alongside them.” This new, more inclusive approach to student career development required additional technology support to meet an expanded scope of work.
DeWitt wrote, “The online portfolio took they selected can house work samples. It also includes self-reflective work in a way that is meaningful to the student and allows them to express who they are — not only through interest surveys or writing samples but through art or a recorded demonstration of skills.
“Saint Paul Public Schools issued iPads to every student. They also provided internet hot spots to families during the COVID-19 pandemic when students were learning remotely. The technology they use includes accessibility features and Spanish translation for English learners.
“Saint Paul Public Schools says that centralization of the college and career readiness plan and their technology throughout the district has ensured a more equitable Environment,” continued DeWitt, “where all schools and programs have equal access to programming and support.”
Considering adoption of educational technology? Get started.
- Take a holistic approach. “Technology should enhance your student career development efforts; it can provide huge benefits but only if [used] as a tactical resource.”
- Do your research. Think about your programmatic goals and how the tool you seek will best support equitable delivery of high-quality CTE for all learners. “Research several options, including pricing” and accessibility features.
- Keep your own bias in mind. “Review the technology and your own career development resources to make sure they are free from unintended bias.”
- Build technology into your instruction. “Technology should not be an add-on.”
- Conduct professional development. “Technology is only worthwhile if the individuals using it understand its purpose, as well as the applicability.”
- Leverage data about technology use. Choose technology that allows the user to collect, analyze and share data about how students access the product. “Develop a plan to share the analyses in a way that will support teachers, school counselors and other staff.”