Inclusive Teaching in Online Environments Facilitators: Dr. Cassander L. Smith, Associate Professor of English/UA Provost Faculty Fellow, and Dr. Nathan Loewen, Arts and Sciences Faculty Technology Liaison August 14, 2020, The University of Alabama
Teaching for Diversity and Inclusion Fall Webinar Series  1. Teaching With Tension: A National Election, A Pandemic, State-Sanctioned Violence and Strategies for Talking About Race in Our Current Moment” 2. Culturally Responsive Teaching in the STEM Classroom and Beyond 3. When the Multitudes Come: How to Channel Student Activism to Build Strong Networks of Allyship in the Classroom
The UA Strategic Plan: Goal #3 Enrich our learning and work environment by providing an accepting, inclusive community that attracts and supports a diverse faculty, staff and student body. Objectives: Establish a position for an equity, inclusion and diversity officer that is responsible for the organizational oversight and assessment of plans, programs and activities that enhance equity, inclusion and diversity. Enhance the recruitment, hiring and retention of diverse faculty, staff and administrators. Strengthen the recruitment, matriculation, retention and graduation of diverse students. Expand diversity and inclusiveness education and training. Provide structural resources, policies, practices and oversight that foster transparency in all campus groups and ensure diverse and inclusive participation.
OUTLINE 1. Guiding Principles 2. Course Design 3. Course Policies 4. Discussion-Based Learning a. Blackboard Discussion Boards 5. Technology a. Key Questions b. Videoconferencing Tips c. Establishing Equity with Technology d. Supporting Diversity with Technology – The Online Classroom as a Digital Sanctuary e. Expanding Inclusion with Technology 6. Questions and Resources
Guiding Principles for Inclusive Teaching 1. Student Learning Outcomes a. Accessibility b. Sense of Belonging c. Flexibility
Course Design 1. Asynchronous vs. Synchronous
Course Policies 1. Attendance 2. Assignments 3. Netiquette (Etiquette for the Internet) a. Language/Tone: The absence of face-to-face interaction increase the likelihood of misinterpretation. Avoid using offensive langues, excessive exclamation points, all caps, humor and sarcasm, acronyms, emoticons, and slang. b. Respect: When responding to a person during online discussion, be sure to state an opposing opinion in a diplomatic way.
Discussion-Based Learning 1. Discussion Boards a. Structure i. ABC Method of Response: Acknowledge, Build, Contribute 2. Supervision a. Student Participation b. Student Attendance
Online Discussion Boards in Times of Social Crisis 1. Faculty Presence a. Participation 2. Offensive Comments a. Engage comment b. Dismantle comment c. Communicate with student(s) d. Intent vs. Effect e. Delete comment
Technology Questions 1. The myth of neutrality: a. How do apps and platforms privilege certain people and not others? b. Ask questions about who an app benefits? How? 2. Blackboard + 1: a. What is your “plus one” for teaching online? Learn it thoroughly and use it well. 3. What are your analog alternatives to any technology used? 4. Are you able to ensure the accessibility of technology used? (i.e. ODS, bandwidth, representation)
Videoconferencing Tips 1. Decide: is videoconferencing safe for you and your students? Considerations.  2. Choose the UA-supported tool you want to use: Zoom  or Blackboard Collaborate 3. Set your webcam for natural light on your face. Or, use a lamp to shine a nice even glow on your face. (Do not put a window behind you!) 4. Use headphones or earbuds with an integrated microphone. You will sound better. You will hear better. People won’t hear your pets, A/C, etc. 5. Aim the webcam ABOVE your eye line (laptop webcams are at the top of the screen). Ideally, face the webcam looking slightly up. 6. Position your webcam so that your face appears in the upper third of the screen (“rule of thirds”). 7. Improve your webcam image by finding/using “HD” on the video settings. 8. TEST your audio and video 10 minutes before EACH meeting.
Establishing Equity with Technology 1. Design towards (don’t assume) digital literacy. 2. Show campus resources for digital fluency. a. “IT for Students” website b. Link resources to tasks that require them. c. Invite resource people to virtual sessions. 3. Follow students when technology is involved. 4. Create offline equivalents for digital work.
Support Diversity with Technology 1. Seek models for diverse technology designs. a. How to Build an Online Learning Community: 6 Theses  2. Network to learn diversity strategies. a. Teaching for Diversity and Inclusion Fall Webinar Series  3. Find exemplary syllabi, assignments, teaching strategies. a. Professional Associations b. Magna Teaching Commons c. Arts and Sciences Teaching Hub
Representation 1. Build diversity into each image. 2. Are people shown? Who are they? 3. What angle (perspective) is the image? 4. Can everyone see what you think they see? a. Alt-text for images b. Captions for images c. Attribution/references for images d. Rationale/explanation for images – Listen to Jade Davis  on videos/images of violence in classrooms.
Digital Sanctuary for Students 1. Create safe spaces for student voices. 2. Open safe spaces with multiple prompts/signals. 3. Establish confidentiality for online learning. a. Can students say “no” to videoconferencing? Consider. b. Data gathered on students and you is never neutral. c. Require UA platforms for storage, email, etc. 4. Encourage use of the Firefox browser. 5. Direct student (re)search exclusively through UA libraries. a. Find constructive ways to discourage “googling.”
Inclusive tasks & assignments 1. Create “Here’s How” to complete required tasks. 2. Use concise text and images. 3. Complete ALL assignments yourself. (especially consider time) 4. Provide instructions for tech failure. 5. Think through work-arounds for when technology fails.
Questions for Non-UA Platforms and Apps 1. Apps not listed on the CIT website a. Consider web access limitations b. Unsupported by UA IT Service Desk c. Lightweight – Bandwidth? Offline options? 2. Review the acceptable use and privacy policies.
Additional Resources 1. “Implementing Inclusive Excellence into Virtual Learning Environments” University of Nebraska, Office of Diversity and Inclusion 2. “An Equitable Transition to Online Learning — Flexibility, Low Bandwidth, Cell Phones, and more,” Lindsey Passenger Wieck, Pedagogy Playground 3. “You Have to Put Your Class Online: Simple Things to Think About,” crowd-sourced Google Doc 4. “Teaching Effectively During Times of Disruption,” Jenae Cohn and Beth Seltzer, Stanford University
Contacts Cassander L. Smith Nathan Loewen