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Five Equity-Minded Practices for Teaching Online

  1. Be Intrusive
  2. Be Relational
  3. Be Culturally Relevant and Affirming
  4. Be Community Focused
  5. Be Justice Conscious

Be Intrusive

  1. Conduct an informal assessment of students' experiences in online learning
    1. Is this your first time taking an online course?
    2. How are you accessing the course (private computer, public computer, tablet, mobile phone, etc)?
    3. What concerns do you have about taking this course?
    4. How can I best facilitate your learning in this course?
    5. Any other concerns or information you would like to share?
  2. Prepare and email to students a brief orientation video that introduces them to the Learning Management Software (LMS) and other technology they will need for the course.
  3. Provide asynchronous alternatives.
  4. Record all class sessions (if possible) and make them available to all students. 
  5. Make success in the course transparent.
    1. Transparently and proactively answer the question: "What will it take to be successful in this course?
    2. What resources (e.g., campus services, websites, study guides, etc.) will best facilitate my learning?
    3. How should I ...
      1. approach the readings (model and/or provide readings)
      2. begin to study and prepare for exams and quizzes on day 1 of the course
      3. take and organize notes (model and/or provide examples)
  6. Use assessment strategies that focus on continuous improvement and progress toward demonstrating proficiency by the end of the course.
    1. Smaller assignments with lower point totals vs larger assignments with big point totals.
    2. Engage non-text based assignments and activities (e.g., multimedia presentations, speeches, debates, role-plays).
    3. Feedback should be personalized to the extent possible.
    4. Offer alternative course grading options if possible
  7. Monitor Performance - monitor and catch problems and address them before it's too late. Loss of points for attendance and submimtting assignments discourage students from persisting. If a student is late on an assignment and figures they will lose too many points a day and they are three days late, they most likely will not see any point in submitting a late assignment. Then there is a snowball effect. If they are late and do not turn in several assignments they do not see a need in continuing to attend the class. The end result is a failed grade, and after a couple failed grades they may not see the need to continue going to school.
  8. Intervene - Use an early warning system for students that are not turning in assignments. Maybe make a phone call with some words of encouragement and allowing them to get some points for their effort.
  9. Create an atmosphere for seeking help - Recognize that some students, especially those from marginalized communities, struggle with help-seeking because of social stereotypes. 
  10. Refer - Connect students with support at the university. You can do this through raising a flag on Starfish.

Be Relational

The goal is to demonstrate an authentic investment in students' success - which is one of the most significant predictors of student persistence (Davidson, 2015)

  1. Humanize yourself - a little appropriate self-disclosure goes a long way.
  2. Facilitate engagement on academic and non-academic matters
  3. Learn at least one thing about each student that has nothing to do wtih them being a student.
    1. name
    2. hometown
    3. hobbies and activities
    4. special talents
    5. favorite books, movies, music artists
  4. Convey unconditional positive regard - let the student know that you believe in them and consider them to be intelligent, thoughtful and perfectly capable of excelling in the course.
  5. Intentionally reject deficit perspectives about students' intellectual capacities or 'fit' for college.
  6. Validation and positive messaging are critical. Students must hear 'you belong', 'you can do the work', 'you can succeed', 'you have the ability', 'you are very intelligent'.
  7. Hold high expectations for performance.


Be Culturally Relevant and Affirming

A culturally relevant and affirming learning experience entails

  • Educators' ability to connect course content to students' lived experiences and cultural contexts (Ladson-Billings, 1995).
  • Centering diverse students in every aspect of teaching and learning experiences.
  • Acknowledging and leveraging cultural strengths and assets to facilitate learning for all students.
  • 'Mirroring' diverse students in course content, perspectives, and materials.

It is beneficial because

  • It addresses students' unique cultural experiences
  • There is value added to students' growth, learning, and success
    • self-efficacy
    • intrinsic interest
    • sense of belonging
    • perceptions of degree utility
    • healthy concepts of identity
  • Contributes to the learning of all students

Diverse Texts - select literature and reading materials that are inclusive of a wide array of students. This is important when creating an online environment that will address the needs of all students. Students from marginalized backgrounds (students of color, immigrant students, LGBTQ students, students with disabilities, etc.) normally find that their voices are absent from literature. Having multicultural readings validate the experiences of the students.

Course Images - If the subject of the day is not 'diversity' we often default to stock images of white, straight, able-bodied people. Use images that reflect people of diverse ages, races, genders, etc. 

By exposing students to images that highlilght the contributions of a wide variety of people to society reduces stereotype threat and anxiety, while elevating self-efficacy

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