Equity in the Online Classroom

    Creating an online classroom according to equity principals is an important step in your preparations. There are many resources to help you in this process. I particularly like Vanderbilt's extensive resources, which we've paraphrased here.

    • Communicate openly and often with all students about their and your needs. Consider sending out a pre-class survey to gauge their technological and social needs.
    • We know that there is a performance gap between students with privilege and less privilege. To lessen that gap, reach out early. Provide support. Connect students with Luther College resources.
    • When appropriate, work with your students to collaboratively define the models of teaching and learning.
    • Be flexible and adaptable in redesigning course assignments and learning experiences that accommodate diverse learners and their needs, particularly those who need to learn asynchronously.
    • See this as an opportunity to experiment with new course design elements such as creative writing or multimedia assignments, as well as innovative interaction via synchronous (e.g., virtual breakout rooms) and asynchronous (e.g., discussion boards, blogs) modes.
    • Be attentive to, and supportive of, students confronting unique challenges of connectivity, distraction, location, etc, and how you might accommodate their equitable participation in all aspects of the course.
    • As in any course, ensure the goals, structures, and assignments for the course are clearly articulated, well-integrated, well-planned, and easy to access.
    • Don't be distracted by technology. If it is not easy to use, it will be ineffective and place unnecessary barriers in the way of students in your course.

    Universal Design for Learning

    Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a strategy for teaching that helps give all student a chance to succeed. It prioritizes flexibility in course and assignment design to allow students to choose the best way to access and complete course material. Designing your courses according to UDL is an important tool to achieve equity in your classroom, because even though it helps ALL students, it is especially impactful for student with learning differences or those who come from under-served populations in higher education.

    This Voice Thread explains more about UDL