Faculty sometimes forget that our students are not us—being inclusive means being mindful that not all of our students are well-versed in the hidden curriculum that faculty may take for granted. When we throw in the additional challenges of distance learning, we must work even harder to ensure that we are not making any unnecessary assumptions about what our students know and can do.
Structure, structure, structure
(also see Be Flexible section)
For students who not used engaged multiple modes of course delivery (face-to-face, blended/hybrid, online) and who suddenly find themselves taking several of them, keeping track of due dates and deadlines is going to be a considerable challenge. You can make it easier for them by infusing as much structure into your schedule as possible.
Decide what time assignments will be due and make ALL assignments scheduled at that time. Note that 11:59 a.m. or 11:59 p.m. is less likely to cause problems than saying noon or midnight, and you may want to clarify the time zone. Similarly, if you have weekly or biweekly quizzes or discussion posts, make them due on the same day or days (and times) every week.
[Advanced tip: When you set due dates for assignments in Canvas, those show up on a central calendar, making it easier for them to track due dates across multiple classes].
Use the must-have Online Course Essentials (ONCE)
ONCE is a simple ISU Course Template in Canvas and a straightforward process to aid instructors in including the must-have elements in their online courses. Whether a course is taught entirely online or as a combination of face-to-face lecture with online instructional materials, activities, and assessments, it can benefit from including these essential components. Both the ISU course template and the Plan Your Course Worksheet contain a reference to the following online course essentials:
- A direct relationship between the course’s learning objectives, assessments, learning activities, instructional materials, and technologies
- A user-friendly, consistent, and accessible course navigation
- Transparent learner expectations
- Technical and academic support resources
- ISU-branded course elements (this is not an essential element but a nice touch)
To get started, visit Online Course Essentials (ONCE) and ISU Course Template.
Create transparent assignments
Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TiLT) Higher Education Project website provides a template for assignments that has three features that reduced achievement gaps:
- motivating assignments with a clear PURPOSE through connection to learning outcomes;
- providing detailed steps of what TASKS students are supposed to do to complete the assignment; and
- providing explicit information about CRITERIA FOR SUCCESS.
This step is an opportunity to review your assignments to ensure they have these three features for transparency (see the Transparency Project site for the template and many examples).
Also, see the suggestions in the Be Proactive section about preparing students for digital learning.
Be Transparent, by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at Iowa State University is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0. This work, Be Transparent, is a derivative of Maintaining Equity and Inclusion in Virtual Learning Environments-Be Transparent developed by San Diego State University Diversity and Innovation (retrieved on May 18, 2020) from https://diversity.sdsu.edu/resources/inclusive-pedagogy/be-transparent.