Learning environment

How to create an inclusive online learning environment


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A 2019 survey by Schoology indicated that 15% of students in the United States do not have access to high speed internet. Since then, the coronavirus pandemic has created a virtual school environment that has resulted in an inevitable learning and achievement gap.

Many internet providers have stepped in to offer free Wi-Fi to ensure that students can continue to learn, but high-speed internet is unfortunately not the only barrier to student success in the environments. in line.

As e-learning remains the new normal, it is essential that educators use best practice strategies to make this experience inclusive and welcoming for all. Paying special attention to the diverse learning styles and needs of students will help create positive experiences, even when teaching and learning at a distance.

Articulate expectations

First, set clear expectations. It’s easy to let unintentional ambiguity influence the online learning experience. As some learners will inevitably struggle in an online learning environment, consider how to fit specific expectations into the course requirements.

For example, if students are required to post to a discussion group through a learning management system, they should be given a specific deadline to post and the number of times they should respond to their fellow students. class. Requirements and deadlines should be clear, but also flexible to accommodate students in difficult family situations.

Use a student success model

An online course is more likely to be successful if it is accessible to learners of varying abilities. Adapted from a Universal Design approach, here are some questions to consider:

  1. Is the pace of the course flexible and suitable for students with diverse needs?
  2. Is the program displayed prominently and easy to understand?
  3. Is there a commitment to provide immediate feedback after completing an assignment or online discussion?
  4. Does the course include various methods of delivering content (video, photos, readings, and discussion)?
  5. Are the resources of your online learning platform easily accessible?
  6. Do the video clips include closed captions?
  7. Is there a commitment to early intervention if a student falls behind?

diversity and inclusion

Diversify content and language

a understood in line Classes accommodates diverse content and is intended for all students in the online class. Course content should be free from implicit and explicit biases and filtered through a multicultural lens. A successful online course will always promote diversity and inclusion and invite students to meaningfully participate in their learning community.

A recent article by The the Chronicle of Upper Education says: “Inclusive teaching means embracing the diversity of students in all its forms – race, ethnicity, gender, disability, socio-economic background, ideology, even personality traits like introversion – as an asset. “

Educators should support students and encourage them to contribute to the course through readings, participation in discussion posts, and presentations to the class. Educators should establish ground rules for inclusive language and respectful dialogue.

Be virtually available and responsive

Connecting with students is essential for an inclusive and welcoming online learning environment. Students notice when a teacher responds to posted questions and assignments.

Educators should consider offering a regularly scheduled walk-in virtual session to provide face-to-face question-and-answer time for students. Inclusive online education means being available to meet the needs of students online, even after hours.

agile teaching

Be nimble

Send weekly surveys to students to determine if a course change is necessary. An anonymous online survey might look like this:

  1. I learned something new this week in this course (Y, N).
  2. The content was clear and easy to understand (Y, N).
  3. One suggestion I have for next week is (fill in the blank).

Educators must be prepared to use the information gathered from students to effect change. A flexible and responsive teacher is more likely to be successful in the virtual environment.

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