Digital equity: Considering the needs of staff as a social justice issue

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The rollout of technological advances in tertiary teaching and learning continues unabated. Concerns around staff lag in acceptance and adoption may overlook hidden influences. While considerations to address the digital divide and digital equity for tertiary students has been a growing social justice issue since the 1980s, what of the academic and professional staff who facilitate their teaching and learning? They are the other side of the coin and, as a cohort, are as diverse as the students they teach. Today, building staff capacity in the implementation of technology in teaching and learning in higher education still remains a key need. Yet a one-size-fits-all approach may miss the differing needs, views and capabilities of staff. It may also be built and developed upon explicit assumptions relating to staff access, skills and ability. For an equity-based approach to building staff capacity through professional development, empathy is required in purveying staff values, abilities, and needs. To address such issues and empower staff, a robust professional development program on digital technology is but one means to help stem the digital divide between staff haves and have-nots. Implications for practice or policy: • The rapid change in technology enhanced learning will impact the professional development needs of educators. • The inequities of digital participation and access for staff should be addressed to ensure successful practice. • Many factors impact staff acceptance and adoption of technology, which in turn impact practice. • Care is necessary to ensure that the digital divide does not marginalise those tasked with contributing to the successful learning outcomes of students. • An environment that is conducive to the emergence of empathy is necessary to facilitate staff learning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
Pages (from-to)150-160
Number of pages11
JournalAustralasian Journal of Educational Technology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2019


  • Capacity building
  • Empathy
  • Equity
  • Faculty development
  • Higher education
  • Staff professional development
  • Technology

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