Equity Pedagogies for Inclusive Online Classrooms in Higher Education

Equity Pedagogies for Inclusive Online Classrooms in Higher Education

Ieda M. Santos, Wenli Wu
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8275-6.ch023
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


Online learning continues to grow and is increasing including more diverse students. Diverse students with various backgrounds and experiences challenge educators to implement pedagogies to achieve equitable learning experiences and outcomes. This chapter aims to discuss four equity pedagogies commonly referred to in the literature that can contribute to democratic and inclusive learning experiences for all students. The chapter's four strategies include pedagogic voice, universal design for learning, equitable assessment, and collaborative learning. Although these strategies were discussed separately, the universal design for learning framework can incorporate both the pedagogic voice, equitable assessments, and collaborative learning while considering their unique perspectives. If well-designed and implemented, these strategies can help all students to receive fair education and prepare them to succeed in a changing world and become agents for social change. The chapter includes recommendations for practice and future research.
Chapter Preview


Online learning and the number of students enrolled in online courses continue to expand in higher education institutions (Allen & Seaman, 2015; Bates, 2020a; Kumi-Yeboah, 2018). According to Bates (2020a, para.7), this pattern will continue due to the global pandemic. He said that “there will be an up-tick overall in the number of fully online courses and enrolments in these courses. Courses successfully moved online during COVID-19 are likely to stay online if there is sufficient demand from students.”

Bates (2020a) predicts a rapid growth in blended learning where it combines face-to-face and online learning. Similarly, Johnson et al. (2020) concluded that blended learning modes of learning seem more viable options for course delivery for the foreseeable future. Online learning can maximize learning opportunities, increase enrollment (Yang, 2017), and broaden access to courses and programs for many students who cannot participate in face-to-face classes (Willems et al., 2019). However, some challenges are to be resolved, one of which is equal access to educational resources, materials, digital technologies, and connectivity (Li & Lalani, 2020; Willems et al., 2019). Improved technological infrastructure and emerging technologies help decrease the digital divide across the globe (Willems et al., 2019). However, unequal access to education still exists, making online learning challenging for many; therefore, it requires instructors and institutions to consider the limitations when developing and delivering online courses (Harris et al., 2020) to avoid widening digital gaps (Dumford & Miller, 2018).

Furthermore, online learning environments increasingly include students with diverse experiences, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds (Lambert, 2019). Instructors are challenged to develop awareness and understanding of diversity in the online classroom to achieve equitable learning experiences for all students irrespective of their backgrounds and experiences (Kumi-Yeboah 2018; Stone & O’Shea, 2019). In this context, the concept of equity is concerned with what is just and is linked to social justice (Gipps & Stobart, 2009). Gipps and Stobart (2009, p. 106) further added that “Equity represents the judgment about whether equality, be it in the form of opportunity and/or of outcomes, achieves just (‘fair’) results.” In the same vein, equity invites us to critically reflect on existing structures in which some students may be more privileged than others (Sator & Williams, 2020). It should be noted that equity is a concept that needs to be considered alongside equal access to educational resources since both ideas contribute to enhance fairness and justice (Kukulska-Hulme et al., 2021). More specifically, equal opportunities, although necessary, are not a sufficient step for educational equity to happen (van der Westhuizen, 2016). Thus, instructors and educational institutions must consider approaches to promote both equity and equal access to education (Harris et al., 2020; Kukulska-Hulme et al., 2021). While acknowledging the importance of equal access to all students, this chapter focuses on innovative pedagogical approaches to promote teaching and learning equity. Of course, when planning and implementing these strategies, instructors must consider issues of access to technologies, materials, and digital literacy (Bates, 2020b).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Pedagogic Voice: This refers to students' opinions, recommendations, and perspectives concerning curriculum, and teaching and learning practices.

Equal Access: Students have equal access to education, learning materials, resources, and technologies.

Hierarchical Structure: This refers to teacher-centered approaches where students have little voice on how teaching and learning are structured.

Diversity: A group of students with diverse backgrounds, including racial, ethnic, cultural, gender, age, economic status, experience, and other characteristics.

Equity: It involves fairness in teaching and learning practices to promote learning opportunities and positive outcomes to all students irrespective of their backgrounds.

Pedagogy: Teaching methods and strategies adopted to promote student learning, knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Examples of pedagogies include collaborative learning, inquiry-based learning, and the Socratic method.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL): It is a framework that guides teaching and learning and classroom environments considering students’ learning differences. Examples include using different formats to create an assignment, such as podcast, video, or text, to achieve the same goals.

Equity Pedagogy: Teaching methods and strategies are enacted equitable to offer all students, irrespective of their backgrounds, the same learning opportunities to help them achieve positive outcomes and succeed in society.

Student-centered Learning: This approach emphasizes students as actively constructing their knowledge, responsible for their learning, moving them from passive recipients to active learners.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: