Make Your Course Inclusive

Centring your students and making sure that the course is designed for your learners is a key element for having students engage. Frameworks and design principles such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL) encourage instructors to make sure their courses do not inadvertently exclude students.

  1. Ensure Your Course is Culturally Inclusive

Inclusivity is important for course design, not just because of well-being and achievement of students, but for providing a fuller and richer educational experience. Examining your course syllabus to identify gaps in materials and resources from diverse scholars is an excellent starting point and a way to ensure students aren't missing out on important history, context, and challenges that exist in the field here and abroad. Practices such as explicitly stating when systemic oppression such as homophobia or racism is exacerbating cases being discussed in courses (e.g. including systemic racism as a factor when talking about nutrition and health in Black and Indigenous peoples), as well as ensuring that examples and case studies are inclusive for gender, race, sexuality, and disability (e.g. exclusively European names, families aren't exclusively mother and father examples).

Including a diversity statement in a syllabus can help provide some context for students who are new to university. You may also want to inform students what pronouns you use in communication and invite students to share the pronouns they use in written communication. Providing opportunity for students to provide feedback is another way to help ensure they are being included in your course.

Recommended Resources

UPEI Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy

UBC Inclusive Syllabus

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Inclusive Teaching

Using Gender Neutral Words (and why it's important)

2. Set Clear Etiquette Expectations

If part of your course has students interacting with other students, you may want to pre-emptively define expectations about how those interactions should work, especially in the case where these are asynchronous interactions where you may not be able to immediately address concerns.

Online expectations do not need to be entirely dictated from the instructor and an early part of your course may be collaboratively building these expectations with students to form a social contract for the course. If you are pre-emptively designing the expectations you may want to lay these out in your course syllabus and/or at the start of your discussion forums.

Recommended Resources

Setting Online Etiquette Expectations

How to Send Announcements With Moodle

Setting up a Moodle Discussion Forum

3. Clarify or Avoid Jargon

One consideration to make a course inclusive is to account for assumptions around the background knowledge your students might or might not have. Being able to clarify vocabulary can help those who may not be familiar with the term in English, or may have learned a different term in another context. One tool that may be worth considering is the Moodle Glossary tool where instructors or students can submit definitions for a shared dictionary. You may use this tool to clarify meaning, tracking progress, or as record of co-created knowledge.

Recommended Resources

Clarify vocabulary and symbols

Clarify syntax and structure

Moodle Glossary