Culturally Responsive Teaching

Netiquette, Bullying, and Microaggressions in Online Envrionments

The online environment is a very anonymous place.

The online class should have a Netiquette policy to show everyone what you consider to be acceptable within the course. A Google search will provide a wealth of suggestions and you can invite your students to offer others. Here are just a few to get you started.

  • Be respectful. ...
  • Be aware of strong language, all caps, and exclamation points. ...
  • Be careful with humor and sarcasm. ...
  • Yes, grammar and spelling matter. ...
  • Cite your sources. ...
  • Don't post or share (even privately) inappropriate material. ...
  • Be forgiving.

What are microaggressions? "An Asian-American student is complimented by a professor for speaking perfect English, but it's actually his first language.  A black man notices that a white woman flinches and clutches her bag as she sees him in the elevator she's about to enter, and is painfully reminded of racial stereotypes. A woman speaks up in an important meeting, but she can barely get a word in without being interrupted by her male colleagues". These examples can delivered as a compliment or joke, and many times, people don't realize what they are doing. Discuss them and point them out. Develop a way to handle these within the class. 

For additional information on microaggressions, click the link below.

What exactly is microaggression

Technology and Accessibility Gaps

In the online classroom, technology needs are more demanding than in the face-to-face classroom.

  • Students may access your course on a variety of devices from desktop computers to mobile phones. You should be aware that these devices all display and handle content differently so the way you see the screen may not be the way your student sees it.
  • Issues can arise from a less-than-dependable internet service.
  • Make your students aware of the technology requirements for your course in the opening days of the course.
  • Encourage them to come to you if they have any issues. There are work arounds.
  • If you record a lecture, also create a transcription of the lecture. That way if the student cannot access the video you can share the transcription.
  • Be prepared to have an outline and notes of any video content you have.
  • Anticipate possible issues and be willing to work with students on ways they can overcome these issues and be successful in the course.

For more information, check these links:

Closing the Digital Learning Gap

Bridging the Technological Divide in Eduction

Regular Feedback and Positive Reinforcement

Provide regular feedback to you students. Establish a feedback policy for your class that lets students know your intentions in this area. When giving feedback, make certain to address not only where improvement is needed but areas where the student has been successful.

  • State your confidence in the student’s ability to master this concept, process or skills (“I know you are a very capable student.”)

  • Point out explicitly what the student got right and where they went wrong. ("This area is well thought out." "Here is where things got off track...”)

  • Name specific actions they need to take (i.e., review the steps, learn the procedure , etc.) ( “How would you fix that? Here’s where I’d like you to go back and review,” or “When you get to this part, rethink this move here...”)

  • Re-affirm your belief in the student’s capacity and effort to reach the target (i.e., “You got this...”)

Assignments and Assessments

Many online best practices mirror or dovetail with the equitable course practices.

  • Create community in the classroom - as we discussed earlier, take every opportunity to communicate with students.
    • Weekly announcements, course welcome message, regular instructor feedback and participation in the Discussion Boards.
    • These all let the students know that you are engaged with them and the course and that you are there to help them.
  • Get Students Engaged with each other
    • Discussion Boards, Group work, Breakout sessions etc.
    • Get students working together to share their learning.
  • Assessments - vary assessments, give students the opportunity to show you their best work.
    • Multiple choice questions are great formative assessments for weekly quizzes and knowledge checks.
    • For more substantive summative assessments, consider allowing students to choose their preferred method.
      • A written paper, a slideshow, a presentation, a short story, performance assessments are great ways to give students more freedom to do their best work and also demonstrate that they have adapted the knowledge from the course into their learning. 
  • Rubrics - rubrics provide equitable guidance to students for all assessments on what you are looking for and what is expected for specific grades.
    • Create rubrics for papers, discussion boards and other assessment methods so students, and you, have a clear understanding of what each assessment should look like. 

For more information, take a look at:

Equitable Assessment in Online Environments

Also, visit the section of this guide titled "Equity in Grading".

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