Emerging Geographies of Inequality: E-Learning in the Toronto District School Board

Authors: Beyhan Farhadi*, University of Toronto
Topics: Cultural Geography, Communication, Qualitative Research
Keywords: critical geographies of education, meritocracy, online learning, K-12, educational technology
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: 8211, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In this paper, I draw from a year-long ethnography on e-Learning at the Toronto District School Board to discuss the ways in which online learning, as an emerging method of course delivery at the secondary level, is producing new geographies of inequality. While e-Learning promises students an experience that is engaging, learner-focused, and inclusive, I argue that disparities, which are physically mapped along lines of race and class in the city, are intensified online. Rather than positioning this intensification as an immanent quality of online instruction, I analyse how practices of governance and labour relations are negotiated throughout e-Learning's emergence and operation in the TDSB. I draw from interviews with over 20 stakeholders, such as administrators, guidance counsellors, teachers, and parents, to better understand how their positions and visions, many of which are competing, influence the allocation and distribution of resources, such as the funding and labour through which e-Learning is made possible. I conclude with insights into the impact of this new space of schooling on student identity, as it is formulated by students who participated in the study over the course of the year and the participant-observation I conducted in their online classrooms.

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