A group of multi-ethnic friends talking with each other in an expression of diversity and inclusion

New Year, New Perspectives: Building Inclusive Educational Content in 2023

December 30, 2022

By Natalie Skadra, EVP Learning Content Operations

Whether you are leading a team or an organization, the impact of the pandemic and the critical dialogue over social justice has challenged many of us to examine and re-examine how we approach and instill our values into every facet of our work. The pressure from mandated protocols; differing perspectives over the role of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB); and a lack of resources or expertise can result in inertia or poorly executed approaches.

With what can seem like insurmountable opportunities in the DEIB space, it helps to take a breath and think about small, incremental steps. A DEIB author and researcher once gave me this advice: the biggest mistake companies make is to tackle it all at once. This reminded me of the proverb from the Tao de Ching, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” At Freedom Learning Group, we help our partners on that journey by assessing materials and developing inclusive content and curricula that achieve their DEIB goals and enhance the experience for all learners.

The Importance of Diverse Perspectives

With resources being pulled in all directions, outsourcing content development is often a business decision. However, our clients have discovered that bringing in an external voice for this work can be a valuable aid for increasing belonging. 

Having diverse representation is more than simply updating the imagery and language in your materials. By bringing in authors and reviewers with diverse backgrounds, your content better reflects the lived experiences and identities of your learners. This diversity leads to more equity and inclusion, and as DEI strategist Arthur Chan said, “Belonging is an outcome.”

4 Considerations for Your DEIB Approach

DEIB is a work in progress. Here are a few thoughts to consider as you approach your work in the new year.

  1. Reflect on your mission, vision, and values
    • Consider your DEIB goals, and reflect on how they align with your organization’s mission, vision, and values.
    • When creating learning content that is equitable and creates belonging for your learners, make sure that work is centered and aligned with your company’s core values. By doing so, it becomes an important part of the culture and not a task.
  2. Recognize biases and be intentional about equity
    • Seek out opportunities to be more equitable in your processes. As with Design Thinking approaches, gather insight from stakeholders—start with empathy, and include authors and reviewers with different voices to avoid reinforcing biases.
    • Design from the margins. When we design with marginalized groups in mind, our designs can benefit all. This concept results in a mindset shift away from accommodation or representation, and towards belonging.
  3. Determine goals, create a plan, develop resources, and measure progress
    • Set attainable goals (e.g., we will create a style guide to address language and usage vs. we will revise our entire library of courses to be free of bias).
    • Set a reasonable time frame and identify the right working team or partner.
    • Create processes, procedures, and guidelines that meet goals, are aligned with your vision and values, and are a source of consistency for those who develop content.
    • Identify metrics to measure progress and ensure accountability. Periodically review progress, be honest in your evaluation, and set new goals.
  4. Embrace the evolution
    • There is no perfect and there is no done.
    • Perspectives are gained as more voices are invited in.
    • Language and understanding evolve.

Here for the Journey

Remember that DEIB is a journey and there is a learner at the heart of this work. I hope you found some inspiration to use these tips, broaden your perspective, and take the next step. If you want to know how we can help, please reach out.

As you evaluate your organization’s needs for educational content and materials, consider how the diverse talent community at Freedom Learning Group can help support your DEIB targets. Tap into a global pool of skilled educators that represent diverse abilities, cultures, races, genders, sexual orientations and other lived experiences and identities. Whether it’s reviewing and improving content for implicit biases, improving representation, or making content accessible through alt-text, image description, or expanded audio descriptions, FLG has the experience to be part of your content creation or review processes. Contact us today.