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Tips for Improving Equity & Access

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Tips for Improving Equity and Access During Remote Teaching

 

Time Zones

With some students opting for online learning or in the event of a campus closure, it’s possible students may be in time zones all over the world. Offering classes synchronously requires that faculty and students gather together at the same time and interact in real-time. While synchronous classes can be more responsive and engaging, they can present technical and logistical challenges to some students.

Because asynchronous classes allow students to access the materials on their own time, offering students the flexibility of an asynchronous learning environment may help mitigate stress and encourage participation by increasing access to course materials.

 

Access

Ask each student confidentially about their level of access to technology both while on campus and away from campus. If technology access is an issue for a student, be prepared to offer flexibility or alternatives. Ask the student what workarounds they might need in order to participate more fully in the course or submit their work.

 

Accommodations

Ask students if they have particular needs concerning access and accommodations during remote or online learning. Because of the change in learning contexts, students may now have accommodations they had not previously requested, and some students may need to make adjustments to their accommodations. Use the results of a survey to inform the technology choices for your classes.

 

Accessible Materials

Make sure your materials are accessible and mobile friendly. In general, PDFs are more accessible for students who may rely on screen readers, and PDFs can adapt to different devices and cell phones more easily than other formats.

 

Transition Plan

Have a transition plan in place so that remote teaching due to a campus closure doesn’t create sudden inequitable situations.

 

Course Materials


If you anticipate your students needing materials from the campus store, determine if the store will be willing and able to ship to students.

 

Video Use

Take into consideration whether the use of video is really necessary. Video streaming requires strong internet connectivity and can deplete data plans and memory on everyone’s devices. Recording lectures and virtual meetings allows them to be downloaded and viewed by students later. Not everyone is in a space where location is optimal.  If students choose not to turn on their camera it does not automatically indicate that the student is disengaged or not paying attention. Consider home, cultural or disability differences.

 

Transcripts

Provide transcripts and captions of audio and video. This is helpful to students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, but also helps class participants trying to learn from noisy locations such as a residence hall or common area. It’s also helpful to students without headphones and students for whom English is their second language.

 

Captioning

Google Slides and YouTube offer automatic live captioning. There is currently not a live captioning capability for Zoom, but captioning is available for recorded Zoom sessions for viewing later.

 

Shared Documents

Shared Google documents are useful for class discussions, and students can participate in the collaborative production of notes.

 

Narrations

Provide narrations of the material you’re presenting on the screen (for example, describe the visual of the diagram, chart, or photograph) for students with visual impairment or difficulty reading a computer screen who may be unable to fully view the presentation.

 

Balance Asynchronous and Synchronous

Create a balance between asynchronous and synchronous tools and course materials. It is possible that some students will feel less engaged and motivated by material presented asynchronously, so offer students resources on how to stay motivated when classes are being offered remotely.