Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology

Instructional Continuity: Strategies for Equity and Inclusion in Virtual Instruction

Instructional Continuity

An array of events can disrupt faculty’s ability to teach courses via on-campus, in-class sessions. Cal Poly is committed to providing students the opportunity to complete courses despite disruptions. Steadily advancing communication and instructional technologies have greatly enhanced faculty’s ability to provide quality virtual learning experiences.With  planning, training on selected user-friendly technologies, and mentoring on effective instruction, faculty can continue instruction through many forms of instructional disruption.


Strategies for Equity and Inclusion in Virtual Instruction

This guide is intended as a starting point for instructors to consider the ways in which they can intentionally build equity and inclusion into their virtual courses. The strategies presented here are not an exhaustive list, but are intended to provide instructors with easy to implement, concrete suggestions for making equity and inclusion a priority in their courses, rather than an afterthought. Each section contains several suggestions followed by concrete strategies. The goal is not for educators to implement all strategies listed here at the beginning of the quarter, but for instructors to choose the strategies that they are able to incorporate throughout the quarter. Instructors may find it useful to identify strategies that they plan to use at the beginning of the quarter, as well as those that they may return to at a later stage during the term. 

Build Community and Promote Inclusion

As students and faculty move to virtual instruction during this difficult time, it is important to retain best practices for promoting inclusion in your classroom and to devote additional efforts for building community among the students. It is also invaluable to take additional time to learn about your students and the challenges they are facing. You may be concerned about teaching all of your courses virtually and your students likely have similar concerns. The suggestions on this page offer ways that you can connect with your students, connect students to each other, and assure them that you are there to support their learning and success. Learn more about how to build community and promote inclusion. 

Show Compassion and Awareness

It is important to show compassion for students and their circumstances and to be aware of the differences in how students are experiencing the effects of this situation. Crisis situations tend to deepen existing social inequalities and the coronavirus pandemic is no exception. Instructors should expect that the situation has had and will have vastly different impacts on our students, their families, and their communities. In addition to being aware of these differences in experiences, it is crucial that instructors point students to resources when they are in need, foster an awareness of their assumptions and biases about students, and extend empathy when responding to student needs during this time. Learn more about how to show compassion and awareness. 

Respond to Behavior that Detracts from Learning in the Virtual Environment

The recent move to virtual learning in light of the coronavirus pandemic has presented instructors with new challenges in responding to student behavior that detracts from learning or disrupts an inclusive learning environment. This guide provides suggestions for preventing and responding to a variety of situations that instructors may encounter, including: 1) how to communicate expectations and take action to limit the negative impact of offensive behavior in the virtual learning environment, and 2) general recommendations for responding to behavior or words that instructors may find racist (or otherwise oppressive), offensive, and/or detrimental to learning. The suggestions are intended to make inclusion a priority by providing ways to prepare ahead of time to create a proactive plan, rather than being reactive after a situation has already taken place. Learn more about how to respond to behavior that detracts from learning in the virtual environment.


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