Overarching guiding principle: It is important to begin all planning with an inclusivity and equity mindset, that is, asking “How can I structure my class and its activities so that all students can learn and feel a sense of belonging?”
- Assess students’ equipment and connectivity to ensure access.
- Assess your students' access but also open the discussion for questions about other potential supports that may be necessary and identify needs for adapting based on individual circumstances.
- Be prepared to connect to student support resources locally and at the institutional level.
- Consider access to resources necessary for course activities and assignments.
- Asynchronous learning opportunities generally support the broadest range of circumstances.
- Check on any needs for accommodation due to disability.
- Be sensitive to variations in social context (where the learning is to occur, especially if synchronous; e.g., home activity, shared bandwidth, time zone).
- Managing Student Anxiety infographic.
- Be sensitive to disparate life situations and impact of covid on students (e.g., financial resources, family responsibilities).
- Have a communication plan for teaching through times of disruption.
- Provide more structure and communication rather than less while allowing more flexibility rather than less.
- Revisit learning outcomes and assessment criteria in the environment.
- Communicate frequently.
- Request feedback regularly.
- Mutually set expectations for how we will interact with one another.
- Through first group discussion/chat activity put up a basic set of class norms and seek input to have people clarify what that means for them and what they would add for norms for this class.
- Use these examples and readings as a potential starting point.
- Include expectations for confidentiality.
- Articulate and reinforce SON values (“We are a community of compassion and respect…”).
- Get to know one another on a human level.
- Build trust and rapport through authenticity.
- Allow room for Brave Space, underscoring mutual respect and goodwill. Definitions and historical context of safe spaces and brave spaces.
- Invite everyone into the process.
- Model and affirm anyone who speaks.
- Create a space where diversity is affirmed.
- Faculty - share self as a person, learn who is in your class.
- Allow people to be their true selves, acknowledging that we all have multiple, intersecting identities.
- Use names when possible, preferred pronouns.
- Offer opportunity to include these in individual’s Zoom name. You can do this by clicking on “Rename”. Always an invitation and not a requirement.
- Recognize the moment-- do not pretend that the “outside world” does not come into the learning environment.
- Anticipate, acknowledge, and balance the emotional with the cognitive components of learning in this moment and environment.
8. Build community by building connections (between students and faculty; between students). Beyond access and the features of technology to be used in the class, a significant focus should be how to build relationships at a distance.
- 5 Strategies to Build a Sense of Community in an Online Learning Environment infographic:
- Make students active participants in the learning process. Draw upon the knowledge and experiences of participants and the intergroup dynamics.
- Foster belonging.
Review course content, activity, assignments.
- Consider diverse ways that learning objectives can be met.
- Invite co-creation of assignments, readings, discussions, etc.
- Too little structure may leave some students behind.
- Structure small group discussions and activities with clear instructions, expectations, and oversight.
- Proactively introduce a process to address breaches in inclusivity that occur in the online context
- Maintain growth vs. deficit mindset about students.