At VIPKid, our commitment to teaching English online is fundamentally linked to creating a more diverse and equitable learning environment. Our curriculum is a reflection of our principles, and we are taking time to re-examine our lessons to ensure that they reflect our values when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion within educational spaces.
VIPKid’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion includes revisiting our curriculum and content to ensure historical events, characters, images, and language in our English lessons are inclusive for all who interact with them. In addition to lesson-specific updates, the VIPKid Research Institute (VRI) recently worked to finalize a set of Diversity and Inclusion Curriculum Guidelines that we will use as a touchstone when establishing new lessons and revising our current curriculum.
VIPKid curriculum changes
VIPKid is grateful to our community of teachers and the Teacher Advisory Council who are instrumental in flagging any content that is not aligned with our commitment to diversity and inclusion. These teachers shared feedback about existing lessons, as well as their experience teaching on the VIPKid platform. Thanks to these suggestions we made changes to our curriculum to reflect our principles.
Some examples of the changes we’ve made:
- In Level 1 we removed a story of a gray baby bird, which previously equated a darker colored duckling with not being beautiful.
- Level 5 now features Isabella Bird, a British explorer who traveled extensively around China. Previously, these slides featured content about Christopher Columbus, a figure that represents oppression of indigenous communities. Isabella Bird will bring new narratives and perspectives to the curriculum that are not typically included in mainstream historical narratives.
Changes like these are a high priority for VIPKid, and allow us to better uphold our commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion in all areas of our business. Our goal is to ensure that teachers on the platform feel proud to teach lessons that reflect the ideals and values of an inclusive global classroom. We believe that a curriculum that reflects diversity and inclusion will better allow students to learn — and that by working to create a diverse curriculum that cultivates embracing and celebrating diversity we can better help our students and teachers grow.
In addition to the changes we are making to the existing curriculum, VIPKid wants to ensure that future classroom content is designed with diversity and as an inherent part of the process. That’s what helped the VIPKid Research Institute to create the Diversity & Inclusion Curriculum Development Guidelines.
The VRI developed the diversity and inclusion guidelines based on combined years of assessment and curriculum development experience, including training received and delivered at previous organizations such as the Princeton Review, Pearson Education, American Institutes for Research (AIR), and Educational Testing Service (ETS).
These are just a few of the changes incorporated into the VIPKid curriculum development process over the last year:
- When the curriculum is being designed, our team now focuses on including diverse modalities, and aims to include a variety of presentation methods and practice opportunities.
- We highly encourage curriculum developers to include diverse and interesting facts and consider new perspectives.
- When choosing and developing characters in the lesson content, designers should include representative characteristics in all lessons, not just when learning about certain abilities, cultures, age groups, etc.
- We encourage teachers to allow students more choice when engaging with materials. This includes providing opportunities for students to choose how they practice new language concepts.
By reflecting on diverse and inclusive educational practices within our curriculum, we believe that our online English lessons will further engage and reflect our wonderfully diverse communities. Our action steps are clear, and we’re excited to grow as an organization and continue to make needed changes to the VIPKid curriculum. We understand that this work is ongoing, and we are committed to listening and improving. Teacher suggestions are at the core of our growth and we highly encourage your feedback as we continue to strive to make VIPKid the best place to teach and learn online.
If you are a teacher and would like to provide feedback on a lesson, we encourage you to share your suggestions by clicking the “Diversity and Inclusion” drop-down menu when you open a support ticket.