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Principles for the Fall Semester

Fostering Inclusion Online

Educational environments that promote inclusion and equity not only reflect UT’s values, but are an important component of student success and retention. The resources and strategies below can help instructors create and foster inclusive online and hybrid classrooms.

From Columbia’s Center for Teaching and Learning, learn more about applying the principles of inclusive teaching to the online classroom.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education, Flower Darby outlines 6 Quick Ways to Be More Inclusive in a Virtual Classroom.

From Inside Higher Ed, Ray Schroeder offers Thoughts on Creating an Inclusive Environment in Online Classes.

Communicate with Students Early and Often

  • Learn and use students’ names when communicating (emails, discussion posts, etc.).
  • Record and post a video introducing yourself, welcoming students to class and providing a brief overview of the upcoming semester.
  • Have students introduce themselves via the Canvas discussion board.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Download this resource for quick strategies on dealing with difficult situations in your online course and guidance on establishing an inclusive and positive online learning environment.
  • How to Deal with Bias Incidents in the Classroom: The following strategies on this webpage provide you with guidelines on how to prepare and respond to incidents involving bias efficiently and appropriately.

TLI has created resources around Inclusive Teaching to assist instructors in designing and leading inclusive classrooms.