This weeks LRDG talk will be by Murat Oztok, who will talk about: The Hidden Curriculum of Online Learning: Discourses of Whiteness, Social Absence, and Inequity

Local and federal governments, public school boards, and higher education institutions have been promoting online courses in their commitment to accommodating public needs, widening access to materials, sharing intellectual resources, and reducing costs. However, researchers of education needs to consider the often ignored yet important issues of equity. My work, therefore, investigates the issues of social justice and equity in online education. 

I argue that equity is situated between the tensions of various social structures in a broader cultural context and can be thought of as a fair distribution of opportunities to participate. This understanding is built upon the idea that individuals have different values, goals, and interests; nevertheless, the online learning context may not provide fair opportunities for individuals to follow their own learning trajectories. Particularly, online learning environments can reproduce inequitable learning conditions when the context requires certain individuals to assimilate mainstream beliefs and values at the expense of their own identities. Since identifications have certain social and political consequences, individuals may try to be identified in line with culturally-hegemonic perspectives in order to legitimize their learning experiences. 

In this ethnographic study, I conceptualize online courses within their broader socio-historical context and analyze how macro-level social structures, namely the concept of whiteness, can reproduce inequity in micro-level online learning practices. By questioning who has control over the conditions for the production of knowledge, values, and identification, I investigate how socially accepted bodies of thoughts, beliefs, values, and feelings that give meaning to individuals’ daily-practices may create inequitable learning conditions in day-to-day online learning practices. In specific, I analyze how those who are identified as non-white experience “double-bind” with respect to stereotypification on one hand, anonymity on the other. Building on this analysis, I illustrate how those who are identified as non-white have to constantly negotiate their legitimacy and right to be in the online environment. The findings of my research can have an important impact on the literature of online education by sparking thought, controversy, debate, and further research on this topic. 

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