This section explains how to design your implementation plans with racial bias in mind. In education, implementation is everything—even for a perfectly-designed product. You may have heard that a good product doesn’t require a help guide, but this does not apply in education! Without the appropriate framing and training for teachers and students, a product can go very wrong. Imagine a dropout prevention product that flags at-risk students. Without the appropriate training, teachers might assume these students will be difficult to work with, without having the ability to understand the logic behind these alerts and take recommended actions as a teaching team. Similarly, a product that highlights skills students need to work on might make students feel discouraged without realizing that all students are being given the same advice. Think ahead about how you hope your product will be implemented so that you design for what you can and create training or implementation guides for everything else. Make sure to partner with students and teachers to guide you in the right direction.
As product and development teams, we celebrate the launch of a product with great pride. However, in edtech, it can take months if not years to validate whether or not you’ve reached your goal. A perfectly designed edtech product can fall flat on its face if not implemented as intended. It is critical that your entire team understands how you hope your product will be implemented. This will impact everything from the assumptions you make during ideation or in your algorithms, to the way your product is designed and tested, to how your product is marketed and supported once students and teachers actually use it.
Craft a school implementation plan needed to achieve your product goals, with racial equity in mind
Provide resources and training to ensure proper implementation of your product
. If you don’t, look up ‘User Journey Mapping’ and get to work!
This is a very necessary requirement for product development that enables you to better understand your users. Ask someone on your team who is intimately familiar with the education context to hold a workshop to explain users' journeys within your product to the engineering team. If you’re not sure you need this, have the team fill out this
to assess for gaps in understanding. Discuss any concerns or questions that come up as a team.
Do your user journeys specifically account for the differences in journey that Black and Brown students or their teachers might experience? These will be common users if you plan to deploy your product in American public schools. If the student and teacher journeys you mapped were modeled off of the schools that don't represent the makeup of public schools, you are likely missing key pieces of understanding how your product will be implemented and used.
Activity 2: Setup and Training
Make sure you include setup and training as part of the user journey. Schools allocate significant time and resources to set up tech products and train teachers at the start of the year. Make sure you’ve accounted for the below
before launch. The table below also provides suggestions for ways your product can account for challenges that disproportionately impact Black and Brown students.
What steps need to be taken to ensure equitable access to your product?
Questions To Ask
How might this cause problems for students?
Make sure your product clearly shows which functionality can and can’t be used offline. Try to make components work offline as much as possible. Make it clear when information may be outdated.
Ex: Do students need reliable wifi at home? If the school doesn’t provide hotspots, do teachers know which functionality can or can’t be used?
Make sure your product (and any required student accounts) can be easily accessed across any type of device.
Ex: Do students need access to devices at home? Do they need to log into their student account? Can your product be accessed on parents’ mobile devices or on the web? Ex: if students need to download an app to their phone, and a child needs to use the product for several hours on a regular basis, students without personal devices probably won’t use it.
Provide resources for parents that schools can distribute.
Ex: Is it easy for parents to understand how to access your product at home? Will students need help to use your product?
There are no rows in this table
What critical information do teachers, students, and families need to know in order to use your product equitably and effectively? Go back to your “what could go wrong” from the
exercises during development. Beyond the technical product, you are still responsible for how your product is used. This usually requires training materials for teachers, students, and parents. Such materials could range from a one-pager explaining what your product does and how to log in, to professional development webinars or instructional videos. Some products even build training into the product, with tap-through introductions or instructional modules that present themselves at the right time in the user journey.
section can help you think through information that should be included in your training resources to ensure equitable implementation.
🎯Conclusion: End-to-End, You're Responsible For It All
The way your product is implemented has an enormous influence on the impact it will have. Even the most thoughtfully designed and developed product can be unintentionally misused. By providing resources and support for intervention, you can ensure your product is implemented the way you intend. For example, an intervention tool meant to encourage additional support for students in need could be used to label and ultimately exclude the very same students. Make sure you've considered students' and teachers' journeys from start to finish, including setup, training, and active use.
This is the last section of the
AI in Education Toolkit for Racial Equity
As you iterate through each phase of design and development, revisit the relevant sections to ensure you continuously uncover and address concerns of racial bias within your product. Millions of Black and Brown students need your commitment to access the equitable and empowering educational experience they deserve.
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