Creating an Equitable and Inclusive Classroom Environment

According to the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology at Illinois State, “Equitable teaching means that the outcomes of our teaching are “fair and just” regardless of the differences that the students bring to the classroom.” There are concrete strategies we can review and integrate to make sure we are making our online classes more inclusive and equitable. The research shows that “building trust, rapport, and relationships that lead to a sense of community are especially crucial for combatting the feelings of isolation and exclusion many students may feel when they are away from a larger campus community” (Georgetown University).  Let’s do our best to create a sense of belonging and community in our classes.

Start with Your Introduction Forum

An introductions forum can provide ‘Welcoming Cues’ and can help ‘Boost Connections’ between students. Watch this brief 4-minute video from Educause to learn more: 

4 Tips to Make an Online Course More Welcoming

When drafting your introductions forum:

  • Consider asking students to make connections with one another
  • Consider addressing apprehensions students might have about the course in your prompt
  • Consider asking students to think about their values and how the course will help them reinforce their values

Consider Your Resources

In the video above, the speaker discusses the importance of providing representation. As you work through your course content, consider the following questions: 

  • Do the readings, videos, and resources in the course provide a wide representation of views, perspectives, and experiences? 
  • Do the examples that you use reflect the social and cultural diversity of our students? Are the names/backgrounds/histories of folks in your quiz questions and case studies diverse and varied? 
  • Are the images displayed in your course representative of the diverse student population we have at CCO? 
  • Are all of the resources accessible? Have you included a detailed alternative description for images that you would like included for students who might be visually impaired? Have you ensured that closed captioning is included and accurate for the videos you would like to use?
  • Have you included assignments or discussions where students can share their own resources with the class? This can help students bring in their different perspectives, expertise, and interests.

Review Your Assignments

DE & I Suggestions Interactive

(Interactive Transcript)

Cultural and Global Competence

Explore strategies for practicing culturally responsive pedagogy to meet the needs of highly diverse student populations in higher education.


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Online Courses. (n.d.) Illinois State.

Inclusive Pedagogy for Virtual Teaching. (n.d.). Georgetown University.

Inclusive Teaching and Learning Online. (n.d.) Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning.

U.C. Davis. (2020). Teaching Hacks to Support Equitable Teaching in On-line Courses.