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Culturally Responsive Teaching and Technology Integration: Five Tips

April 26, 2023 • Ting Huang, Ph.D.

It’s always a great time to consider your course with the principles of culturally responsive teaching (CRT) and technology integration. However, even though CRT has been a popular buzzword, you might  have doubts and lack practical ideas about how to include CRT practices with technology integration. 

Reliance on instructional technology and the rise of online learning have tested the dedication to fairness and inclusion in today’s globalized student population. However, learning experiences that are electronically mediated sometimes cater to the peculiarities of a dominant Western culture at the expense of cultural responsiveness to the backgrounds of all participants. More specifically, the way that instructional technology facilitates interaction among participants in the learning experience can  contribute to the dominance of Western culture. For example, instructors may implicitly assume students’ comfortable levels with technology and apps (such as Google suites), while a Chinese international student who just came from China may have not used these tools before (due to the banning of Google access in China). I explore technology integration for undergraduate and graduate students from a social justice, equity, and inclusion perspective. I am a practitioner and researcher of CRT, particularly with preservice teachers. Regarding the implications of CRT and Technology Integration, there are massive amounts of information available to instructors– which can be overwhelming. As a recipient of one of the three STLI Fellowships for Excellence in Teaching this year, I am committed to engage with the community to offer bite-sized teaching tips, innovative approaches, and diverse perspectives on the topic of CRT and Technology Integration. 

So, what can you do to embrace CRT with technology integration? Here are five tips to get you started:

Tip #1: Technology might not solve problems of equity and inclusion in CRT.

The concerns of inclusion and equity might not be resolved by technology. In fact, it might make these issues worse. Therefore, instructors must adapt technology for students in specific cultural contexts and recognize and address any cultural incompatibilities. For example, if an assignment requires daily engagement using high-speed internet, this assignment sets marginalized students with limited access to high-speed internet or limited computer access as at risk of failing. 

Tip #2: Shift from technocentric teaching to student-centered CRT.

By favoring student-centered learning activities over teacher-directed pedagogies, technology-mediated learning experiences can be useful to members of underrepresented cultures. Here, an example of shifting from technocentric to student-centered CRT includes considering students’ background while implementing technology. Hence it is not “more is more.” The student-centered CRT with technology integration includes honoring students’ content of learning, access to technology, and learning processes such as technology integration. 

Tip #3: Learning via CRT is contextualized in everyday situations.

Technology can help instructors integrate diverse viewpoints. Instructors can work with learners in a sociocultural context to find new links to pertinent, culturally acceptable technological mediated-resources using constructivist and sociocultural approaches. Here a classroom example includes maybe beginning, weekly, mid-term, and end-of-semester surveys to explore students’ needs and wants in technology uses, application references, and comfortable levels, and then adjust the instructional approaches based on students’ feedback.

Tip #4:  CRT with technology integration is acquired via active participation.

Active participation means when instructors use technology in the classroom while considering CRT principles, it is important to consider the processes of engagement. What is the purpose of  such technology? How can students benefit from active participation, instead of passively doing the work? This tip is not exclusive to the previous Tip #2 in thinking about shifting techno-centric ways to student-centered ways of technology integration. The unique feature of this tip is engagement. Engaging students in CRT means instructors using technology are charged with learning opportunities and resources that are culturally diverse, students can improve their overall educational experience by active, nor passive (as required by a course) participation. 

Tip #5: CRT with technology integration is a process of relationship building, social actions, and engagements.

For teachers, CRT with technology integration means (a) developing a cultural and technological diversity knowledge base, (b) designing culturally relevant and technological-mediated curricula, (c) demonstrating cultural care and technological sensitive community building, (d) reflecting on cross-cultural communications and technology enhanced teaching.

Thanks for reading my post. I am happy to discuss these tips with you for possible collaborations and learning opportunities

© 2023 Ting Huang, Ph.D. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.

Meet the Author

Ting Huang, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor from School of Education

Ting Huang is a tenure-track Assistant Professor from William & Mary. Her research interests include educational technology, pre-service teacher training, culturally responsive teaching, and social justice. Her scholarly work can be found in academic journals such as Transformative Works and Cultures, Chinese as a Second Language, Reading in a Foreign Language, and Language and Sociocultural Theory. Ting is also a 2023 STLI Faculty Fellow.