As a way to incorporate Lesley University’s Inclusion Plan into teaching and learning opportunities, we created a new activity in our Online Teaching Seminar this February.
eLIS’ Teaching Seminar is designed to help prepare first-time online instructors to facilitate their courses. One of the exercises in the seminar is to participate in a discussion about scenarios that instructors may encounter when teaching an online course. We created a new example where one student makes a racist remark towards another student in an online discussion. We then ask our seminar participants how they would handle the situation if this happened in their course.
We had the instructors prepare for the discussion by reading a couple of resources on diversity and inclusion teaching:
Based on the readings, the instructors had a great conversation and offered advice to one another.
One question that was heavily discussed was the idea of depersonalization when debating potentially sensitive topics. Instead of asking students how you may feel about a topic, you can ask them to present an argument for or against said topic.
Additional topics that developed during the conversation included:
- After an incident occurs, do you address the whole class or just address the students directly involved?
- Is there a need to provide statistics or studies to controvert racist assumptions?
There may not be a definitive answer to these questions, but we wanted instructors to wrestle with these questions and deepen their own standards for teaching.