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Special Issue on Decolonizing Digital Learning: Equity Through Intentional Course Design

Krystle Phirangee, University of Toronto,;

Lorne Foster, York University,

What’s the purpose of lived experience in assessments? How do we even grade lived experience? These were some of the questions asked by faculty during a departmental presentation focusing on assessment and course design in the ChatGPT era. It got us thinking about the digital divide and how much of the literature focuses on unequal access to digital technology and skills. Whereas the divide seems to go beyond access to impact what counts as knowledge and how it is represented and reshaped by power in distance learning modes.

When COVID-19 hit, many educational institutions pivoted to emergency remote teaching (ERT), which allowed learners to learn from anywhere at any time; making open, flexible, and distance learning models even more necessary in the education system. However, ERT amplified the digital divide and inequities among learners during the pandemic. Some governments tried to address this gap within their jurisdictions by giving devices to students who needed them but the lack of access to the appropriate supports (i.e., high-speed internet) and quality use of the technology (i.e., knowing how to navigate the technology) still caused disadvantages for students in completing their online work or attending online classes, thus limiting them from sharing their lived experience. In addition, the digital divide is now prevalent in online exam proctoring software, with the software disproportionately targeting marginalized students. There is also a need for caution when selecting and using online meeting tools, such as Zoom, since personal data from users were sent to Facebook and some classes were hacked by trolls posting offensive and hateful content (Peters et al., 2020). These realities highlight that technologies are not neutral in their development and deployment and as a result could cause unexpected disruptions and inequities in education.

Nevertheless, how these technologies are used in open, flexible, and distance learning in terms of course design and engaging students can make a difference (Dron, 2022), and has proven to be vital in minimizing such inequities. During the pandemic, many educators experimented with instructional strategies and assessments in open, flexible, and distance learning to further support learning, which also helped to inform new learning models. Research has shown that although many like open, flexible, and distance learning due to its convenience of learning from anywhere at any time, the distance between peers and the instructor has contributed to feelings of isolation and disconnection (Chan & Lee, 2010; Rush, 2015; Mbukusa et al., 2017)  In addition, identity incongruence, which refers to when a student’s identity clashes with or does not fit in with the group, has also been shown to be another contributing factor to such feelings among students (Hughes, 2007; Phirangee & Malec, 2017). Whereas identity congruence exists when students have a strong sense of community (SoC) that is a feeling of belonging and being accepted; having a strong SoC motivates students to participate more in their courses and thus lowers feelings of isolation and disconnection. This highlights the importance of using an equity lens in course design to minimize disengagement.

Others have harnessed the digital landscape to revitalize and preserve a culture to teach and pass on to the next generation. Many Indigenous communities have harnessed the digital landscape to revitalize and preserve their ways of knowing, languages, music, and stories through cellphone recordings, websites, an open language archived community and much more since resources to learn Indigenous languages continue to be limited due to the lack of trained teachers and materials that follow external standards and Western pedagogies (Meighan, 2021). There is now digital content created by and for Indigenous peoples, which has contributed to the ongoing decolonization of the digital landscape (Meighan, 2021). Therefore, by “addressing the inequities that may be affecting the learning of students in our classrooms, we can choose to design courses that make learning more accessible and obtainable to all students” (Woodford, 2022, p. 11).

Despite the digital divide needing improvements for both physical and non-physical access and equitable representation in knowledge, it is beginning to narrow, with the decolonizing of the digital landscape (Meighan, 2021). Decolonizing pedagogy requires that we critically wonder about knowledge and how we approach knowledge in ways that reinforce the “monolithic, monocultural, mono-epistemological academic traditions” (Biermann, 2011, p.386). This approach is concerned with what counts as knowledge and how it is represented and reshaped by power. As Kanu (2006) noted, we must decolonize the space of education, but to do this, we must decolonize the mind; in other words, we must be open to negotiating our own biases to develop a shared understanding. Digital learning and its associated pedagogies, “can help to realize higher education as an entry into new spaces and cultures of reasoning and understanding. They call, though, not just for a rare imagination on the part of the teacher but a preparedness to recede into the background and to tolerate a heightened level of pedagogical risk” (Peters et al., 2020, p.14).

This special issue aims to identify and examine specific decolonizing instructional strategies and intentional course design approaches used to create a more equitable open, flexible, and distance learning environment to minimize the inequities caused by the digital divide. The themes of the special issue will include, but are not limited to:

  • Uses of technology or its features to enhance learner’s sense of belonging;
  • Instructional strategies to foster identity congruence;
  • Culturally responsive teaching;
  • The role of lived experiences in assessments;
  • Using an equity lens to design online courses;
  • Leveraging universal design for learning principles;
  • Using educational technology platforms within distance learning to decolonize(dis)ability;
  • Indigenous knowledge and reclaiming diverse non-western centric epistemologies in distance learning;
  • Adopting a blended learning approach (i.e., blended, hyflex, and hybrid) to address student disconnection and inequities;

More information:

Chapter Proposal – Autism, Neurodiversity, and Equity in Professional Preparation Programs

We are currently in the process of editing a forthcoming publication entitled Autism, Neurodiversity, and Equity in Professional Preparation Programs to be published by IGI Global, an international publisher of progressive academic research.

We would like to take this opportunity to cordially invite you to submit a chapter. We think that a chapter related to your previous work with IGI Global may be relevant to this book.  

This book project will examine professional preparation in autism and other types of neurodiversity from multiple perspectives. The book’s conceptual framework will include disability studies, neurodiversity, and intersections with diversity, equity, and inclusion across a variety of professional programs and disciplines. The intent of this book is for use within professional preparation programs to support the development of highly qualified professionals in supporting neurodiversity within their work. The editors hope to include chapters from multiple perspectives to present a diversity of thought around how to prepare professionals in autism. 

Please visit IGI Call for Chapters webpage for more details regarding this publication and to submit a chapter proposal by June 30, 2023

Please feel free to contact us with any questions. You may also share this Call for Proposals with other colleagues who may be interested. We look forward to reviewing your proposal! 


Shanna Jamanis, Ph.D. – Nazareth College 

Dawn Vogler-Elias, Ph.D. CCC-SLP – Nazareth College 

Educational Technology Conferences 2023 & 2024

The following list was adapted from Clayton R. Wright’s Educational Technology and Education Conferences List #48. Please refer to Wright’s complete list for other conferences as well as each conference website for more details. Each year I attend AECT, AERA, and 1-2 other local or regional conferences. I use this list to identify what conferences I might attend. Thus, this list is focused on my research interests and/or convenient or interesting locations. Double-check each conference because some more are bound to be canceled.

JUNE 2023

JULY 2023






  • December 13-15, 2023 Learning and Teaching Expo. Learning and Teaching Expo, 13th. (15,000 attendees, 350 booths) Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, China.


  • January 17-19, 2024 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality (AIVR), 6th. Hosted by the UCS Institute for Creative Technologies, Los Angeles, California, USA. or
  • January 23-26, 2024 National (FETC) Conference: The Future of Education Technology Conference, 44th. Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida, USA.


  • February 3-7, 2024 Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) Convention and Exposition, 43rd annual. (8,000 attendees, 450 exhibiting companies, 700+ sessions) Austin Convention Center, Austin, Texas, USA.
  • February 16-18, 2024 American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) Conference, 76th annual. (2,000+ attendees) Gaylord Rockies, Aurora/Denver, Colorado, USA.
  • February 18-21, 2024 Instructional Technology Council (ITC) eLearning Annual Conference. Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
  • February 26-28, 2024 Digital Learning Annual Conference (DLAC): Delivering on the Real Promise of Online, Hybrid and Digital Learning. Organized by the Evergreen Education Group based in Durango, Colorado, USA. This event will be held in Austin, Texas, USA. or

MARCH 2024

MAY 2024

  • May 11-16, 2024 Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Conferenceof theAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM). Honolulu, Hawai’i, USA.
  • May 15-17, 2024 Stockholm International Conference of Research on Vocational Education and Training, 9th. (In 2022, the conference venue was the Viking Line’s M/S Gabriella cruise to Helsinki, Finland.) Stockholm, Sweden.
  • May ?, 2024 International Conference on Networked Learning: A Research-based Conference on Hybrid and Lifelong Networked Learning in a Postdigital Era, 14th biennial. The 13th was held May 16-18, 2022 at Mid Sweden University (Mittuniversitetet), Sundsvall, Sweden. or

JUNE 2024

JULY 2024






  • February 24-26, 2025 Digital Learning Annual Conference (DLAC): Delivering on the Real Promise of Online, Hybrid and Digital Learning. Organized by the Evergreen Education Group based in Durango, Colorado, USA. Marriott Marquis, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. or

MARCH 2025

JULY 2025

  • July 27-30, 2025 Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Annual Conference and Technical Exhibition, 62nd. Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, Ohio, USA.



Call for proposals – Engaging Faculty through Faculty Development

A reminder that JFD is welcoming submissions for its next special section, focused on Engaging Faculty through Faculty Development. For this special section, JFD is seeking brief manuscripts that address but are not limited to the following questions:
How is faculty engagement defined within the context of faculty development?
What faculty development initiatives hold the most promise for engaging faculty?
What evidence-backed faculty engagement strategies support faculty development?
How can faculty developers involve faculty in faculty engagement initiatives moving forward?
Submissions should be no longer than 1,500 words and must provide practical suggestions. Manuscripts must be submitted in accordance with the standards of the Journal of Faculty Development and formatting guidelines available here <>.

In addition, manuscripts should follow APA style (7th ed.) and be submitted as a Microsoft Word document, RTF, or PDF as an attachment to an email sent to<> by May 1, 2023. The issue will be released in September 2023. Read more here<>.

Russell Carpenter, Ph.D.
Assistant Provost & Professor of English
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Faculty Development
Eastern Kentucky University

2023 eLearning Conference of Colorado Call for Proposals

We invite you to submit a session proposal in the 2023 eLearning Consortium of Colorado Virtual Conference. The 2023 Conference is free and open to all educators. We hope you will join us for 3 days of collaboration, technology and learning! Wednesday April 5 and Thursday April 6 are virtual. Friday April 7 will be in Westminster Colorado at Front Range Community College.  If you would like to propose a session for Friday April 7 please contact Kae Novak 

Here is a link to registration for the virtual conference

We have been creative with the session types and tools we use. While we will be offering most sessions over Zoom, we encourage you to consider sessions in other platforms. Most sessions are 60 minutes in length. Please see our Conference Website for more information

The proposal Deadline is Friday March 6, 2023. Please share the link to this with your friends and colleagues 

All sessions will be recorded unless requested otherwise.

If you have any questions or would like to submit something not covered, please contact Kae Novak at

Submit here: