For today’s universities, having a strong diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) plan is more important than ever. DEI in higher education requires that schools offer an equal learning experience to all students, regardless of their religion, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, age, political perspective, socioeconomic status, language or (dis)ability.
Although the 1960s brought some early forms of diversity training to universities, businesses, and institutions, the need to improve DEI in education persists. As thought leaders and shapers of young minds, universities can lead the world in these critical matters. Here are a few ways that innovative technology is helping universities develop a fair and equal society in which everyone has a voice.
Using DEI Distance Education Tools To Reach a Wider Audience
Although not ideal, emergency remote learning offered the opportunity to continue teaching when lockdowns made physically attending school impossible. Educators who lived through that experience and the tech companies supporting them developed remote teaching tools and strategies that will continue to improve education in and out of the classroom.
Virtual learning will not replace in-person classrooms, but many university leaders are now looking at the benefits of offering both options. Virtual courses are an appealing alternative for many students, including those with disabilities, those without the resources to live close to campus, parents with young children and adults working while pursuing an education.
Remote learning opens doors, and universities that embrace this format can better support a diverse student body. However, there will still be a need for collaboration among students and instructors. Using conferencing software can help in this regard. Zoom live transcription and closed captioning software like Verbit’s live captioning and can better engage students and maintain a record of discussions that they can reference to support their studies.
Video Content for Learning Flexibility and Engagement
Video is one of the tools instructors implement to engage their classes while teaching remotely. Courses that rely heavily on video instruction offer flexibility for learners whose schedules make traditional schooling impractical. Also, even in a traditional classroom, adding video can improve students’ learning experiences.
Many professors incorporate video content into their in-person, remote and blended course formats because offering multiple forms of instruction helps increase student engagement and comprehension while accommodating diverse learning styles. Universities need to ensure that when they use this tool, they make videos accessible to all students by adding captions, audio descriptions or other assistance as needed.
DEI Education and CART Captioning
Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is a necessary accommodation for many Deaf or hard-of-hearing students. This solution may involve an in-person CART stenographer who offers real-time closed captioning or remote captioning through a transcriptionist who virtually listens to lectures.
When providing DEI in higher education settings, remote CART real-time captioning has advantages. For instance, multiple students can benefit from the captions simultaneously, and the school leaders can upload the captioned content for students to access, therefore preserving those resources for future use.
Better Access for Students Learning English
DEI higher education standards also demand inclusion for non-native English speakers. Studies indicate that students learning English can benefit from captioning for audio and video content and virtual conferencing. Universities can accommodate international students and others who grew up speaking a language other than English by offering this one solution.
Many institutions now incorporate live closed captioning services that rely on automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology. However, one issue ASR presents is that it struggles to transcribe when the speaker has a strong accent. In a diverse university atmosphere, interpreting different accents and dialects is imperative. Fortunately, AI-powered captioning solutions like Verbit’s can accommodate various accents and continuously learn new words and phrases to improve accuracy. With this sophisticated transcription software, higher education leaders can promote diverse voices and support DEI.
Tracking Progress and Identifying Student Needs
To truly promote DEI in education, instructors and administrators need to do everything they can to proactively ensure their students have resources that allow them to participate in their courses. Students may not always request the accommodations that they need. Educators can help encourage their students to seek out assistance by fostering an environment that makes their class feel safe.
Technology designed for tracking student progress can also aid this effort by collecting data and identifying the need for intervention. Instructors using this tool can see where students with disabilities, language barriers and other challenges may benefit from accommodations and ensure services are getting to those who need them.
University professionals who are not ensuring support for learners may lose students simply because they did not identify their needs. When these members of the student population cannot actively participate in the classroom, their voices are silenced, and everyone loses out on the benefits of diversity.
Promoting DEI education standards requires strong leadership. Some schools may find it beneficial to offer standard accommodations, like captions, to the entire class rather than waiting for a student to request them. As mentioned, taking this step can benefit all learners and avoid a tragic situation where students who need those tools fall through the cracks.
Verbit’s AI-powered live captioning service is helping diverse students pursue their education and assisting the DEI efforts of higher learning institutions. These transcription and audio description solutions are also supporting universities across the globe. For more information about Verbit’s AI captioning solution and other services, contact Verbit.