Equity & Inclusion in Online Course Design

Digital Equity Webinar

On August 5th, Brett Christie, PhD and Carrie O’Donnell enjoyed a lively discussion about supporting equity and inclusion in online learning with the PADLA community. In this hour-long webinar Brett, Carrie, and members of the PADLA community discuss universal design for learning, the eight key elements of effective learning experiences, and a handful strategies that can support equity and inclusion in your learning communities.

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Key Resources

Presentation Slide Deck:

Session 1

Session 2

How do I create an inclusive course tone?

​A great starting point is an Equity Syllabus-- a syllabus designed intentionally address equity and equity mindedness in the learner population.  This student centered syllabus includes both a philosophy statement and a diversity statement. The philosophy statement addresses your style of teaching and expectations for the learning environment you’re creating for your learners. Your diversity statement address equity and your expectations from the learner community as it relates equity and inclusion-- this is a great opportunity to begin building that community.

How can I provide course resources and activities that are compatible with varying levels of student bandwidth or technology?

With access to stable internet nearly ubiquitous it is so critical to consider what that really means for your learners. There is inequity in the bandwidth your learning community can access. In order to address this issue here are a few simple tactics to improve equity for learners with varying levels of bandwidth: 

  • Chunking videos: The practice of breaking up videos into smaller segments makes it easier to watch and download with lower bandwidth. Additionally, it is often more mobile friendly which is increasingly the primary point of access for learners. 

  • Provide learners with the opportunity to download key lecture resources. In the event they cannot watch the synchronous video they’re able to download slides while listening to the lecture. 

  • Along these lines, make all course materials available for download, preferably single zip folder, so students can refer to local copies as needed. 

  • Avoid doing timed online exams. 

How do I offer multiple means for students to demonstrate learning?

Enabling learners to demonstrate learning in multiple ways is crucial to creating an equitable learning experience. In order to provide learners with multiple opportunities start by considering the following: 


  • Use the purpose statement for a project and its alignment with respective learning outcomes as a way to consider varied ways students may be able to achieve or demonstrate.

  • Consider multiple pathways for students to meet learning outcomes, increasing buy-in, engagement, and agency.

  • Work toward developing a multi-pathway rubric that will provide objectives with respective performance standards, benefitting student process, instructor assessment, and feedback given.