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Tips for Promoting Civility & Inclusion in Online Courses


Communicating with Students

  • Learn and use students’ names when communicating (emails, discussion posts, etc.).
  • Record andpost a video introducing yourself, welcoming students to class and providing a brief overview of the upcoming semester.
  • Require students to record and post an introductory video using the multimedia tools in Canvas.
  • Provide opportunities for students to interact with you and one another in real-time using Zoom. Even if your course is mainly asynchronous, you can hold virtual office hours or have collaboration in an online synchronous setting.
  • Write discussion prompts that take into consideration learners’ backgrounds, perspectives and values.

Outlining Expectations

  • Include a civility statement in the syllabus that addresses specific expectations for student behavior, interaction, and communication (on the discussion board, in email messages, in the virtual classroom, within the context of group work, etc.).
  • At the start of a semester, establish community norms by having students identify and discuss their own expectations for respectful engagement and civil discourse in the online environment. Create course policies around these expectations. Hold students accountable – and have students hold one another accountable – when these policies are not followed.

Utilizing Technology

  • Deliver a pre-assessment that addresses students’ experience using technology and multimedia tools for instructional purposes. Share supplemental resources with students who may exhibit knowledge gaps or have less hands-on experience.
  • Utilize tools in Canvas to implement self-assessments, such as focused reflection, journaling, and student-invented dialogs.
  • Create materials and assessments with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles in mind. For more information about accessibility and UDL, please visit the Accessible Information, Materials & Technology website and the Office of Information Technology’s UDL webpage.
  • Identify and utilize open educational resources (OERs) during the semester. The Canvas Commons is a great place to get started!