Meet Our Product Advisory Board: Jackie Slaton Promotes Digital Leadership Initiatives

Written by: Susan Lanier-Graham

After receiving a BA in International Relations from Wesleyan College in Georgia, Jackie Slaton began her career as a French teacher in Atlanta Public Schools, during which she became passionate about addressing resource gaps. She saw her courses as not only exposing students to language but also to opportunities they didn’t know about that were within their reach. 

“I saw a gap in terms of the resources students needed,” Slaton explains. “That could have been a pencil or the opportunity to be exposed to culture. I was doing diversity, equity, and inclusion before I knew the term.”

After receiving a master’s’ in public administration from Georgia State University's Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Slaton transitioned from the classroom, knowing she still wanted to focus on providing students with the resources to succeed. She took a role at Georgia State’s Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Online Education (CETLOE) as a grant writer, where she secured funding for new programs that created more pathways for minoritized students and women to use technology in their learning and to pursue technology careers.  

“The more I learned about digitization and technology, the more I learned about the gross underrepresentation of people of color and women in technology,” Slaton says.

Now Slaton is Assistant Director of Learning Community Development at CETLOE and also a doctoral candidate in the College of Education and Human Development, pursuing an EdD in Educational Leadership. And she recently joined the  CourseGateway Product Advisory Board with a goal of helping make digital learning technologies more accessible to diverse populations. 

Building communities, building skills

CETLOE collaborates with administrators, professors, and staff to offer services to instructors and students. Instructional support for educators includes pedagogical consulting to assist instructors in developing ways to help students meet and exceed expectations. The program also offers instruction assessment, assistance in teaching digital literacy, and creating online content. 

Slaton, however, has a unique role within CETLOE helping students develop interdisciplinary 21st-century workplace skills. As Assistant Director of Learning Community Development, she runs programs like the Digital Learners to Leaders CourseDevelopment Innovation Leadership TeamDLL Technology Training, and PantherHackers.

These programs focus on giving students access to emerging technologies and digital literacy that, Slaton tells them, “regardless of the profession they go into, their employer is going to value.”

The programs are complemented by an emphasis on other professional and leadership skills that today’s employers look for in new hires. That might include networking in the workplace and presenting themselves in the most professional manner possible. 

“We incorporate all of that into our programs so students know how to stand out with their résumés and portfolios, preparing them to be successful in their interviews and then, once they have the job, become a leader in the position.” 

She notes that these programs are particularly impactful for Georgia State’s large population of first-generation college students.

“Those students are learning about social capital as well, in terms of developing relationships with those outside of their traditional circles,” she says. “They develop the networking and communication skills required to succeed in business. That is advantageous when starting and growing your professional career.” 

Going Beyond Checking a Box

Slaton believes her role on the CourseGateway Product Advisory Board is a way to extend her career-long work in K-12 and higher education to address resource and achievement gaps for underserved students. 

“I look forward to sharing the importance of thinking of inclusion and diversity not as just simply checking off a box but as a policy others adopt within their businesses and organizations,” she explains. “It’s not enough just to have a person of color as a character on the screen, but in building the platforms.” 

Slaton emphasizes that for every learner to be included, minoritized professionals must be present in building platforms and creating lesson plans “so they can bring an authentic contribution to what’s being created.”

She adds, “Courseware is a great resource in terms of being accessible to so many different people and allowing for a personal pace for learning, but it can always be made better and more inclusive. Both the software and the company developing it must reflect the diversity of the institutions they want to serve.”

 

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