June 29 – July 1
Long Beach, CA

Strategies for Overcoming Barriers to Fostering Inclusion in Online Classrooms

All Audiences

A benefit of online education, is that it facilitates the inclusion of diverse students thus allowing for greater culturally diverse classrooms. However, Kang and Chang (2016) asserted that “overlooking the critical role culture plays in online learning will lead to detrimental educational and psychological consequences” (p. 780) because if students begin to feel that culture is not valued or considered in the classroom they can experience feelings of isolation, alienation, and even depression. These feelings of not belonging can contribute to students dropping out. According to Milheim (2017) “not only does culture have an impact on the overall classroom experience, but it has also shown to affect learning, motivation, and satisfaction in a course” (p. 1). Further, online courses already have higher attrition rates than traditional classroom environments (Aragon & Johnson, 2008) so it’s a matter of great importance. While instructors have long been navigating diversity and inclusion challenges for in-person teaching, the challenge becomes more complex as instruction moves to an online format. This begs the questions: 1. How do socio-economic and cultural disparities manifest in the online classroom? 2. What strategies can online professors implement to foster greater inclusion in the class?

During this session the presenter will summarize major cultural aspects that can be at odds with traditional American classrooms practices and discuss how these barriers are more nuanced in the online classroom. Participants will be invited to share their own observations and to share strategies for successfully promoting inclusion.

Session Outcomes:

  • Identify how socio-economic and cultural background of students shapes their learning experience.
  • Evaluate how traditional Western class norms can pose potential barriers and possibly alienate culturally diverse students.
  • Identify strategies for promoting greater diversity and inclusion in the online classroom.
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