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Nina McCune
Advancing DEI and Creating Inclusive Environments in the Online Space
Most investigations of how to create equity outcomes in higher education are relegated to traditional, on ground, four year residential schools. This submission examines how an institution creates inclusive learning environments in the online space in a way that is sustainable, measurable, and threaded throughout faculty development and course delivery.
A call for change in education and a pragmatic demonstration of how it can be achieved, this forward-thinking peer-reviewed collection from Walden University, a fully online institution “built on the foundation of positive social change,” offers a host of practical-minded papers from academics at Walden and other online schools, all dedicated to perhaps the most consequential question in education in the post-pandemic world: how to offer a more equitable learning experience for all students in an online space. In clear-eyed, practical-minded papers, the authors present the theoretical foundations of creating inclusive online spaces and teaching and learning models, nuts-and-bolts examinations of what the designs of such spaces look like in practice, and core principles for evaluating the inclusivity of the online classroom curriculum.

Those principles are crafted to ensure designs are not systematically biased, that each student feels valued and affirmed, and that students are offered multiple means of expression to demonstrate knowledge. All that’s just from this wide-ranging and inspiring volume’s first few chapters. Subsequent sections continue the student-minded, data-driven road-maps to all that online education could be, as the authors offer illuminating strategies, rubrics, and analysis tools at the classroom and the institutional level. Any teacher of an online course will find value in the discussions of “compassionate grading” (offering empathetic correctives while avoiding grade inflation) or the development of a “person-centered” approach that fully “activates student strengths” and forges “relevant, meaningful connections to their lives.”

Walden has committed to a mission of positive social change, and chapters aimed at the institutional level call for a change to traditional strategic planning in favor of “operational plans designed to sustain a culture of community commitment and ensure an inclusive teaching and learning environment.” Another examines innovative “self-assessment toolkit” to help colleges and universities “assess their own readiness to serve historically underserved students.” Anyone teaching, administering, or thinking seriously about online education will find much here that’s urgent and revelatory.

Takeaway: Preictal yet inspiring academic papers on how to achieve the best for students in online learning.

Great for fans of: Michael Simonson, Susan, Zvacek, and Sharon Smaldino’s Teaching and Learning at a Distance, Routledge’s Best Practices in Online Teaching and Learning series.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/a
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A