This post is part of a series highlighting the diversity and inclusion work for employees, teachers and students at VIPKid. This content is a start at being more transparent around conversations about equity and inclusion at VIPKid and we will continue to showcase the ongoing work in future blogs.
Students are at the core of VIPKid’s business and mission. They are also the future generation of leaders. As a platform evaluating diversity and inclusion, it is critical that we closely analyze this work through the lens of our students and families. The majority of families on the VIPKid platform are based in China and we understand that these students and parents have unique experiences and perspectives.
What we know to be true: Our platform is a space for cross-cultural learning and growth.
What we also know: Translating and bridging cultures is slow, complex work. It takes several iterations to get it right, and it cannot be completed in one 25-minute class.
Knowing this, we strive to ground our work in global citizenship. To us, that means providing the tools and information our students need to be people of the world who can operate and thrive in a diverse environment. Our approach to creating a more inclusive classroom starts with education and clear expectation setting. We have seen and learned that there are a variety of assumptions and understandings of who is the “typical” English speaker and we aim to undo these stereotypes. In the short term, we are focusing on these key areas of improvement in 2020.
- To encourage students to attend class with an open mind, we are creating educational videos and resources for families about diversity and race. These resources will also be embedded in our new student onboarding experience.
- To address discrimination that students and teachers have experienced in the classroom, we are working to offer culturally relevant resources for families to help them navigate these situations. These resources will be made available in Mandarin. We will also include tools for teachers to recognize and flag these incidents to the VIPKid team.
- For all student resources, we seek third-party partners to review them for cultural relevance, age appropriateness, and clear explanations of diversity. We will blend resources from both China and the U.S.
- We recognize that illustrations and what is unsaid can be as powerful as what is written and said. That’s why we will ensure the characters, images and language in the lessons are inclusive for all who experience them. We are grateful to our proactive community who has flagged suggestive content and we continue to encourage them to do so.
- Our curriculum team is currently working on auditing the VIPKid curriculum to ensure that it is inclusive and diverse. Most recently, we did an audit of our new MC Level 2 content.
- We realize a reactive response is not enough to make our curriculum more inclusive. We are taking a proactive approach to ensure that all new curriculum is created with a diverse and inclusive lens. Our VIPKid Research Institute is creating curriculum and assessment diversity and inclusion guidelines that can be applied to the development of new curriculum and assessments to standardize this approach.
- We recognize that an awareness of diversity and inclusion is essential in the introduction of the product to prospective students and families. Through training, learning partners, who support students and parents with their classes, can serve as stewards of this global citizen framework and help to educate families on the importance of taking classes from a diverse group of teachers.
- As part of setting expectations for students and families, our China-based PR and Marketing teams will tie their goals to more actively share stories, videos, and images from a diverse group of teachers. This will create more awareness about the diversity of English speakers that students will encounter both abroad and on our platform.
As we meet these goals, we will continue to push the boundaries of what it means to advance in diversity and inclusion in the online teaching industry. We will continue to update our community as we launch more initiatives with the students and families on the platform. Our company leaders and teams fully recognize there are a lot of areas where we can improve and we want to be transparent in sharing our learnings along the way. This is only the beginning, but as a team we are motivated and inspired by the projects in motion. We are constantly evaluating new resources and partners, and we welcome recommendations that can help us with this important work.
We truly believe that through diverse curricula and learning opportunities, we can provide the best educational outcomes for students in a global classroom.
This was written in partnership with the VIPKid Edu team who create the curriculum and resources for our students. Our multipart series also explores our teacher and employee commitments to VIPKid’s journey in building a more diverse and inclusive community.