Remote Inclusion

Recent events demonstrated the need for inclusive pedagogical strategies that can withstand challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, remote learning, and social unrest. Consider the concept of remote inclusive teaching and how you may approach it.

Reflect on the moment and your relationship to it.

Think about some of the issues currently facing us, including the COVID-19 pandemic and other forms of social disruption. Consider how you are impacted by these events and how other people with different backgrounds and perspectives may be affected. Investigate how these issues might impact the way you view students who think differently, as you do not want your biases to get in the way of providing rich learning opportunities and feedback to all students.

Consider how students may be affected differently.

Recognize that some students will be greatly affected by current events and may find it difficult to fully engage in learning. Given their proximity to the effects of these issues, students’ learning could be negatively impacted by some of our current challenges. Use this understanding to gauge students’ shifting attentiveness, interactions, and potential conflicts.

Learn about students’ needs early and often.

Understand that students are processing current events in their own ways and have unique remote learning setups.

  • Survey students’ technological and learning space resources at the start of the quarter.
  • Because isolation can foster disengagement, consider polling students weekly about their abilities to participate in the course. If engagement levels drop, consider making an adjustment to the course structure and/or reaching out to students individually.
  • Do a mid-quarter assessment to see if the structure of your course still supports students’ learning.
  • Encourage students to visit you during virtual office hours.

For more information, see the "Assess Student Backgrounds" section on the Get Started page.

Offer a well-structured course and be willing to adjust it.

Structure provides a sense of security in times of uncertainty. However, issues such as differential access to technology, lack of quiet learning spaces, or heightened anxiety call for some flexibility. With this in mind, consider the following:

  • In order to make your structure clear and help students pace themselves, spend time describing what you expect students to do in your course. For example, introduce students to your class by sharing your screen to show that each week’s reading materials, discussion threads, and reflection paper assignments are in modules that are labeled by week and linked to the syllabus and calendar. Next explain that you expect them to read the text by Monday morning, respond to the discussion prompt by Monday at 5 p.m., and submit their reading reflection before class meets on Tuesday.
  • Develop strong learning objectives and consider multiple paths for student success. While students may understand your structure, they may not always have the means to achieve the objectives. For example, students with low-bandwidth Internet access may have a difficult time with video. In that instance, you could then offer the Zoom chat function for participation in discussion sessions, options for students to send a prerecorded presentation instead of a synchronous Zoom presentation, or office hours via FaceTime instead of Zoom.

For more information, see the "Create an Inclusive Syllabus" section on the Getting Started page.

Make your course accessible to as many students as possible.

Realize that students may have disabilities or be working in different time zones, making it challenging to access content.

  • Learn how to make your documents digitally accessible.
  • Provide short, prerecorded lectures and bring students together for structured Q&A, problem-solving sessions, demonstrations, or student-to-student feedback sessions in breakout rooms.

To learn more, see the Promote Accessible Learning Spaces page.

Build social presence with and among students.

Social presence—or the degree to which students feel connected with other students and the instructor—improves learning.[1]

Building social presence involves things like paying attention to individual students, showing respect for their efforts, and sharing one’s self and beliefs.[2][3] You may establish social presence in many ways, and it’s important to realize that social presence can address the sudden sense of isolation felt by many students as well as a lack a sense of belonging by historically marginalized students.

  • Express respect for students’ efforts. For example, ensure students respond to one another’s discussion posts.
  • Ask students to list their preferred name in their Zoom account profile, call them by name, and encourage everyone to do the same.
  • As you lecture or meet with students during office hours, share your professional interests or activities. Help students find a connection to you.
  • Create opportunities for students to interact with each other. Perhaps they can collaborate on an assignment, discuss a concept in breakout rooms, or work in pairs to solve a problem.

Get more information on the Encourage Cooperative Learning page.

  1. Kreijns, K., Kirschner, P. A., Jochems, W., & Van Buuren, H. (2004)
  2. Lowenthal, P. R. (2015)
  3. Sung, E. & Mayer, R. (2012)