Transformative Social and Emotional Learning: Examining Learning Management Systems Through the Pairing of Digital Learning Environments

Transformative Social and Emotional Learning: Examining Learning Management Systems Through the Pairing of Digital Learning Environments

Joseph P. Fiorentini, Michael P. McCreery, Le Quanda L. Cole, Sam A. Leif, Malaya M. Monk, Jessica R. Bagneris, Danielle L. Head
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6956-6.ch009
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COVID-19 required teachers and administrators to swiftly transition traditional education into learning management systems (LMS). However, LMSs are designed as delivery trucks, providing content to students and serving as digital filing cabinets that organize and deliver information in an appropriate manner. This inherent limitation allows for the disenfranchisement of underprivileged groups, which can be addressed via the transformative social and emotional learning framework (TSEL). TSEL is a method of alleviating inequitable learning experiences by accounting for racial oppressions that marginalized groups encounter within education. Here, the authors discuss how to leverage additional digital learning environments to enhance and support identity, belongingness, intersectionality, and agency during online learning. These digital learning environments are detailed from a research perspective as well as a practical one, allowing readers to immediately implement concurrent extensions to their LMS.
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With the rise of COVID-19, educational organizations have grappled with transitioning a substantial portion of face-to-face courses into learning management systems (LMS); an especially jarring transition for the primarily face to face K-12 educators. This shift has highlighted the disconnects between the transformative properties of socioemotional learning taking place in the classroom and the manner in which LMS are designed, deployed, and managed to function as digital substitutes. Currently, a persistent and myopic view of education exists, which focuses squarely on academics rather than educating the whole person (Dee & Jacob, 2011). This focus is most noticeable within an LMS, as they have been designed as delivery trucks, providing content to students rather than encompassing a learning experience (Chapman, 2016; Clark, 1983).

Perceptual development of self and others, identifying and sharing emotions, as well as expressions of agency, belonging, culture, and identity are not only diminished due to LMS design issues, but can also be suppressed due to the mediated nature of the digital learning environment (Petroski & Rogers, 2020). As such, the transformative social and emotional learning (TSEL) framework developed by Jagers and colleagues (2019) provides a useful structure for combating the disenfranchisement of underprivileged groups within LMS. At its core, TSEL is grounded in the development of knowledge, attitudes, and skills that help to mitigate educational, social, and economic inequities (Jagers et al.,2019). Within LMS, inequalities are often exacerbated due to system designs that negate human experience prior to, during, and after the learning process (Demmans et al., 2020). These design structures target academic content rather than the person using the system (Demmans et al., 2020). Consequently, underprivileged students tend to fall further behind academically (You, 2015), socially (Smarr & Schirmer, 2018), and culturally (Gomez-Rey et al., 2016).

It is from these interrelated perspectives that the rest of the chapter is based. The authors propose a focus on the enrichment of TSEL components through digital learning environments as an extension of LMS. A deliberately designed, systematic approach to pairing digital learning environment with LMS will allow educators to focus on the learner, and their learning experience. Therefore, this chapter will aid constituents in employing TSEL within digital learning environments and offer tools to help educators empower students to express their interpersonal stories, experiences, and differences within extended applications of LMS.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Learning Experience: Educational circumstances that meet the needs of the whole person by emphasizing individual differences.

Social Emotional Learning (SEL): Process through which individuals acquire knowledge and skills in self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.

Agency: A person’s belief that they have control of their own life and can make choices to shape their environments to achieve personal goals.

Intersectionality: The overlap of multiple independent identities that are influenced by culture and may carry varying levels of advantage or disadvantage.

Identity: An ever-changing, multilayered complexity that stems from experiences suited to an individual’s internal self-perception and external relationships that shapes their view on life.

Transformative Social Emotional Learning (TSEL): Expands the SEL framework to address social justice and disenfranchisement of underprivileged groups by examining the additional acquisition of knowledge and skills in identity, intersectionality, agency, and belongingness.

Digital Learning Environment: An online environment that utilizes the technological affordances of a system to enhance education.

Practical Implementation: The ability to apply useful tools in meaningful and logical ways.

Belongingness: A fundamental human need to feel accepted and connected to others.

Learning Management System: An online workflow system designed to manage and organize content for virtual learning.

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