My biggest learning was probably that, when the students knew I was mapping their group discussion, they became very equitable with their time. They are generally polite students, but some are vocal and outgoing, and will happily dominate conversations. But with this mapping app, I found these same students to be very inclusive and aware of others. It is a great way to draw out the quieter voices.
Promoting Equity and Inclusion
Equity in your Classroom and your School
Teachers and education leaders are often advised to get students, and adults, to work in groups. Collaboration encourages creative and innovative problem-solving. But there is always the question of equity. When collaborative discussions are buzzing along, I sometimes worry about the voice that goes unheard. Who is participating fully? Who is excluded? Who is overlooked and has given up trying to be heard? Teachers (and leaders) often have a hunch about participation and contribution. However, there is an app that makes it so simple to have the clarity we seek. I was first introduced to the idea of mapping group discussions at a 2018 Apple Institute. In the spotlight presentation by Stephanie Thompson, she discussed the use of equitymaps.com created by Dave Nelson.
The Unheard Voice
EquityMaps is an easy-to-use app that provides teachers with group-interaction analysis. And the data is instantly available and answers the question of equity of participation. You get to see the dominant talker; the one that is overlooked; the amount of time each student spends participating. You can even track how often the teacher talks, instructs or dare I say, interrupts the flow of discussion. The teacher or leader who is mapping the group discussion can record the audio of the group discussion or meeting. This has proved super helpful in gathering evidence for my masters studies. And there are indicators to highlight silence or chaos in the group discussion.
The data is in the form of graphs, or you can examine the participation level of each individual to see how much of the discussion they contributed to. This makes for meaningful discussions about participation levels. Human nature being what it is, I have found that people are far more respectful of each others’ contributions when they know that their discussion is being mapped.
How the mapping works
Students (or teachers, leaders, or team members) sit in a group and one person maps the discussion. At the start of the group discussion or meeting, the group is labelled according to their seating order (see map below).
Every time someone adds their opinion, you tap their icon and the app maps both the direction of the discussion and does a simultaneous voice recording, if required. At the end of the lesson, you are left with rich qualitative data to discuss with the group.
You can show the group members who contributed, how many times, and for how long. They could compare their contributions to the rest of the group. The aim: promote equity and inclusivity in all areas of classroom activities. It really helps with the yes-and mindset.
The power of EquityMaps is immense as it answers the question Whose voice is not being heard? With this tool, you’ll have more than a hunch. You’ll have the data to back that hunch up. If you are wanting to promote collaboration, this is the ideal tool.
As the website says
What gets measured and seen can be improved
Learning lasts in classrooms where students feel their voices are heard
Cycles of reflection create deeper learning: listening, efficacy, empathy, and collaboration
Fascinating. I’d be keen to see this used in a corporate setting to “coach” adults to recognise this in the meeting rooms. Wonder if/how it would work for virtual meetings.
I think it would work really well in a virtual setting. As long as you remember to map the conversation, and then it should give you some valuable data.
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Posted on September 13, 2022
Thanks for sharing. What's been your biggest learning from using this? Any hunches that were correct? I'm trying to work with a school at the moment that has a lot of hunches, but have not tested their theories.