Taking courses from online learning platforms can help greater numbers of people achieve an education. Those with mobility issues or mental health conditions that prevent travel often find it easier to learn from the comfort of their own home. That’s why 75% of schools are planning to operate an online learning environment. However, online learning can fall victim to the same problems of diversity and inclusion as physical classrooms. Here are three ways to ensure that an online learning environment is as inclusive as possible.
Consult a Tech Accessibility Expert
The first thing that learning institutions need to focus on is the accessibility of their platform. Is the text legible for people with impaired eyesight? Are there subtitles for the hard of hearing? Is the system intuitive and easy to navigate? These are just a few of the many questions that need answering. New data reveals that 86% of websites fail basic accessibility checks. For some sites, this isn’t as big of a problem. For a learning platform, though, it’s denying a student their education. For anyone who doesn’t feel confident in their tech abilities, hire an accessibility expert. They’ll go over the entire platform and make suggestions of where it can be improved.
Train Teachers to Build a Sense of Belonging
The platform is one thing, but teaching staff also need to go through accessibility training. In the weeks before a new course begins, lessons should be offered to advise teachers on how to create an inclusive environment. Diversity and inclusion training topics could include disability awareness, what kind of language to use, and concepts of privilege and oppression. Through these teacher training sessions, staff members can learn how to create a culture of inclusion which strengthens the sense of belonging among all class members. A research reveals that 29% of students report not feeling like they belong in their school community. This issue is worse for people with disabilities or from minority backgrounds. Online, the problem is even harder to solve, but through inclusion and diversity training, teachers can help all students to feel like they belong.
Have a Clear Target and Reward System
Confusion is often a problem for students. They may log onto the online learning platform and feel like they don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing. Children with low self-esteem may not have the confidence to ask for help and so end up feeling like failures, even if they’re doing the right thing. Women with disabilities, in particular, tend to have low levels of self-esteem which manifests itself in low educational achievement. Make sure each day starts with a clear set of learning targets. When a child achieves these targets, reward them to reinforce their sense of pride and confidence.
Online learning environments have incredible potential. They allow so many more students to access the best education. However, without a physical staff member present, it can leave some feeling invisible. Students with disabilities or from a minority background are often the worst affected. That’s why online learning platforms need to take inclusion and diversity seriously, helping staff members to do the same. This way, all children can feel included in education so they can achieve their full potential.