Guest Post: The recent worldwide shift to digital classrooms gives instructors more opportunities to enrich their students’ lives. Videos are an excellent way to introduce principles and concepts, especially when it comes to diversity.
Here are some ways to encourage diversity in online learning so your students learn more about the world and each other.
1. Review and Refresh Lesson Outlines
You might have pre-recorded video lessons from your previous semester or school year. Review what you’ll reuse and evaluate who tells the stories in each lesson. Were they written from a limited or exclusive point of view? Does the video include voices or perspectives from every person represented?
Respectful and informative video lessons should always represent people from all backgrounds. It’s the first step to learning how to include diversity in videos. Bringing in new voices adds fresh perspectives to your lessons and provides more profound context.
2. Change the Graphics
Lessons often utilize fictional stories to explain new things, which may include graphics. Updating them is another way teachers can figure out how to approach diversity in digital learning.
Whenever possible, change the pictures so they represent people with different skin colors and backgrounds. It may mean rewriting part of the story to match the character or renaming them, but it can play a vital role in expanding the world through diversity.
3. Eliminate Anything Offensive
This should go without saying, but offensive phrases and words are never welcome in school, especially when aiming for diversity and inclusion. Comb through everything for stereotypes and language that could reinforce harmful ways of thinking. If a short story teaches new vocabulary words while letting a male character say something like, “You throw baseballs like a girl,” the students will absorb this sexist viewpoint right alongside the vocabulary you’re trying to teach.
Understanding why something is offensive will keep them from using that word again. Use the video lesson to prompt a discussion about why some things are more insulting and the feelings that might lead kids to lash out with hurtful words.
4. Learn About Your Students’ Background
Learning more about your students’ families can be a great tool. Meet their parents over video chat and talk about life. If there’s a lack of representation within the kids’ lives, use your classroom to help address that.
Make it a point to talk about and normalize racial and cultural diversity with your students. If most students have cisgender, heterosexual parents, including lessons about the LGBTQ community also becomes even more critical. Equally, it’s important to keep your lessons equitable and inclusive for students who may have learning or physical differences.
You’ll know how to promote diversity in the online video classroom when you better understand what your students already grapple with or don’t have in their lives.
5. Introduce New Topics in Diversity
Teachers with older students can use video lessons to go more in-depth into diversity. Talk about wealth disparities and dive into the meaning of equity to clarify how it’s different from equality.
Understanding that equal access to fundamental rights requires a little more societal change for some people and less for others will expand your students’ grasp on the importance of diversity.
6. Create Safe Discussion Spaces
At the end of each video, prompt a discussion via video chat or digital comment thread. It’s a modern way instructors can discover how to approach diversity in digital learning. Students will feel encouraged to put their lessons into action and grow if they can talk about what they learned. They’ll swap stories and perspectives, which is an essential part of embracing diversity.
Prepare for these interactions by drafting a community agreement that outlines acceptable language and topics. If everyone understands how to address diverse lesson material respectfully, the conversations will be constructive instead of divisive.
Learn How to Include Diversity in Videos
There are many ways to encourage diversity in online learning. Consider your students’ ages and what they should take away from each lesson to find the best teaching method. Whether you make visually representative videos or prompt healthy discussions, you’ll create a respectful and encouraging educational space online.
About the Author
Ginger Abbot is a learning and education writer. She serves as editor for Classrooms, where you can read more of her work.