Inclusive Course Elements

This page provides considerations and suggestions to make common course elements more inclusive for your instruction.


Welcome your class on the first day through conversation and a typical overview of the syllabus. We recommend providing a similar statement as below to encourage the students to feel comfortable in your class.

  • Name & Pronouns – Professional courtesy and sensitivity are important regarding individuals and topics dealing with differences of race, culture, religion, politics, sexual orientation, gender, gender variance, and nationalities. Class rosters are provided to the instructor with the student’s legal name. I will honor your request to address you by an alternate name or gender pronoun. Please advise me of this preference so that I can change my records.

Note: Pronouns aren’t just for in-class conversation. APA accepts “they” not just he/she details the use of pronouns in academic writing.

Initial Introductions

Whether in class or as an online discussion, students are often prompted to share about themselves. Below, in Appendix A, are some suggested prompts for students that are professional and broadly inclusive:

Many courses require group collaborations such as in class activities or term projects. Consider students who might feel excluded or isolated. How might they feel being placed in a particular group? They might feel isolated by such things as gender, race, socioeconomic status, or sexuality. Students who are not native English speakers may struggle with connecting to others in the course. Things like idiomshomophonesphonemes and even parts of speech can be a conflict for a non-native speaker. When helping groups to form, it’s useful to consider:

  • Will you be selecting the members for each group or will you allow the groups to occur organically?
  • Encourage group communication among students. While it may have been brought up in the introduction discussion, there is benefit to the group members to spend more time getting to know each other. Consider the following prompts as conversation starters:
    • English language proficiency
    • Cultural background
    • Education background
    • Previous group projects
    • Ideas of how group roles and projects apply to a real-world job
    • Major, year, what they like about their major.
  • Time considerations may affect group success. Students may have to meet outside of class to complete group work. Encourage students to create group meeting schedules through discussing:
    • Class schedules
    • Work schedules
    • Extracurricular activities
    • Expectations about the time needed for different parts of the project
  • Craft an activity for the group to complete along with the group contract asking for individual interests. A common interest can act as a rallying point to support engagement in the work.

Consider possible assignments and supports to help student success through transparency.

  • Periodic quick check-ins such as scheduled conversations or surveys can help to assess group health without making it excessive or time-consuming.
  • Group contract assignment at the beginning of the semester can help students to consider what is acceptable behavior for a course and agreed-upon strategies for how to navigate potential challenges the group may face.

Appendix A – Examples of Self-Introduction Activities

This is an ungraded activity.

Create your own-self introduction VoiceThread and share it with your class. If you have already created a VoiceThread Self-Intro for another class, you may use it again as long as you update it with new information (e.g., recent news, previous classes, etc.).

VoiceThread is a tool that we recommend using for collaborating on projects for your course. You will have opportunities to use VoiceThread throughout the semester.

  1. Create a presentation and upload it into VoiceThread
    1. Click on the “+ Add your own” link in the VoiceThread view at the bottom of the page
    2. Import a photo(s) of yourself or other meaningful images to the slide. Keep in mind that you’ll be sharing this content with the rest of your class. These introductions are an important part of getting to know fellow group mates for later projects, so consider what information will be useful for others in order to get to know you. If you have already created a self-introduction, please update it for this semester/course.
    3. In the “Notes” section of your slide, prepare a script using the following information as a guide
      1. Your name
      2. General geographic location (please include your time zone, i.e. UTC-5)
      3. Share some of your personal interests or an interesting factoid about yourself
        1. Is this your first semester with the World Campus?
        2. Have you traveled abroad?
        3. Do you have any past/present experiences with internships you would like to share?
      4. Your related professional experience – any interesting jobs? (optional)
      5. Your military experience (optional)
      6. If you have created similar self-introductions in previous courses, do you have anything new to share?
      7. Anything else you feel will help your students get to know you better. The interactions you share here could be very important to future group-related activities.
      8. If you are not using PowerPoint, save your presentation as a PowerPoint file
      9. Create your own VoiceThread Self-Introduction (Links to an external site.) – click on the “+ Addyour own” link
      10. Record comments for your self-introduction
        1. Use the multimedia tools to record audio/visual comments using the “script” that you created in your presentation from step 1.
        2. Use the text comment feature to paste your script after each recorded comment. This is a necessary step for other students that may have hearing impairments.

Please include the following in your introduction post:

  • Your name
  • Major
  • What time zone are you in?
  • An interesting fact about yourself


  • My Name: David Pondelick
  • Major: IST, Design and Development
  • Time zone: Eastern Time
  • Interesting fact: I’ve lived in six states (California, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania [twice],Virginia, and New York)
  • Aspirations, Background, and Future Goals
  • F-O-R-D Style. Use this discussion board to introduce yourself to your classmates. As you addyour introduction, click the “Add a Post” button and include an interesting subject line that tells something about you. When composing your introduction, it might be helpful to use the acronym “FORD” as a guide.
    F Family-mention your spouse, children, parents or siblings
    O Occupation–talk about what interests you most in your work or your goals
    R Recreation–what you do for fun or would like to do
    D Dreams–describe what you dream about or want to learn from this course
  • Interviewing. Ask the students to pair up and interview each other. The students will report on what they discovered about each other.
  • Special Topics. Ask the students to share their experiences with the topic being studied. Also ask them to discuss why he or she is interested in this area. For example, many special education teachers can describe a specific experience that led them into the field. Ask the class if they had similar experiences. Encourage them to explain it to the class.
  • Google Earth. Many online classes include a variety of students from different cultures and locations around the world. Ask students share a screenshot of their location on Google Earth and share the distance between themselves and the university.
  • Creative Approaches
  • Two Truths and A Lie. An activity for students is for them to list three interesting things about themselves. (I own two iguanas; I once shook hands with Tom Cruise; and I love to waterski.) One must be a lie and two must be true. Other students must vote to determine which interesting thing is a lie. The student who guesses the most incorrect items wins.
  • Childhood Dream. Ask the students to share their childhood dream (what they wanted to be or do when they grew up) and ask them to reflect on how their current coursework correlates with their current aspirations.
  • Miscomm-puter-unication. Ask the class to share their most embarrassing mishap using a computer. Share with the students your own experience, for example, replying to the wrong person in an email. This will loosen them up and cause a few to chuckle before we embark on an alternative way of thinking… using technology instead of paper and pen.
  • Welcome to Walmart. Ask the students to list four items found in Walmart that best describe themselves.
  • Memory Lane. Since so many online students are so diverse in age and other things, such as ethnicity, it is good to close or expose the generation gaps that might exist. Ask the students to list three major world events that happened the year in which they were born, then have the other members guess the year and post a brief response on whether they remembered the events or had never heard of them.
  • Meeting Someone. Storytelling is a wonderful way to get people to show (some of) his or her true colors. Ask the students to share about his or her favorite musician or actor, conjure a fictional story about meeting them. In short, I would ask: Who is your favorite musician, why do you like them, and what would you say to him or her if you could meet them today?
  • Good things come in Threes. 1) List your three favorite web sites. 2) List your three favorite activities. 3) List your three favorite classes you have ever taken.
  • Vacation Needs. Ask the students to respond to these questions about distance and fun in the Discussion Thread Area: A. “Tell us the farthest distance you have traveled and were you on a vacation or a business trip?” B. “Where would you like to go on a vacation right now if you could?” With this sharing in the online class, others may have been to the same places or would like to find out more from those that have gone.

Appendix B – Team Contracts