Best practices in creating an equitable, inclusive online course

There are 5 ways to create inclusive and equitable online courses. Click each title to learn more about them.

Apply to your course: Resources & Tools 

The table below outlines questions to ask to make your online courses more equitable and accessible



Resources/ Tools

Review your syllabus for equity-minded practice

• Your syllabus can be a tool for equity-minded practice.
• Instructors can utilize the syllabus to demystify the “implicit norms and ambiguous policies” that lead to success in a college course (CUE 2017, p. 3).

• Syllabus Review Guide for Equity-Minded Practice (The Center for Urban Education, 2017)

Review your course for Inclusion & Equity

• Checklists and rubrics can help you review your course for criteria such as access to technology and support, instructor commitment to inclusion, addressing bias, helping students make connections, and using universal design for learning principles.

• Applying Inclusive Teaching Principles (University of Michigan)
• Peralta Equity Rubric
• Social Justice Syllabus Design Tool (Taylor et al.)

Complete a Value Affirmation Exercise with your Students

• Students from underrepresented minorities often struggle with feeling a sense of social belonging in predominately white colleges; value affirmation exercises have been shown to help reduce those feelings and to improve achievement among these students (Stanford)
• At the start of the course and/or critical moments in the course (midterm, before an exam, etc.), use a survey to ask students to identify some of their personal values (family, friends, interests, etc.), and then describe how taking this particular course reflects and helps reinforce those values (Educause, 2019)

• Watch: What is a Value Affirmation Exercise and why is it effective (STEMneutral)


Watch “4 Tips to Make an Online Course More Welcoming” (Educause, 2020)


Center for Urban Education (CUE) (2017). Syllabus Review Guide for Equity-Minded Practice. Rossier School of Education: University of Southern California.

Cohen, Chelsea (2021). Online Equity Training. Peralta Community College District. Educause (2019). 4 Tips to Make an Online Course More Welcome.

Harvard University (2011). Project Implicit.

Jaggars, S.S. (2014, Winter). Democratization of Education for Whom? Online Learning and Educational Equity. Diversity & Democracy, 17(1).

Matejka, K., & Kurke, L. B. (1994). Designing a great syllabus. College Teaching, 42(3), 115-117.

Peralta Community College District. (n.d.) Defining the Peralta Equity Rubric.

Shirzadi, A. (2018, Feb. 23). STEMneutral - Value Affirmation.

Stanford University GSB Staff. (2012, May 12). The Value of "Values Affirmation".

Taylor, S. D., Veri, M. J., Eliason, M., Hermoso, J. C. R., Bolter, N. D., & Van Olphen, J. E. (2019). The Social Justice Syllabus Design Tool. Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity (JCSCORE), 5(2), 133-166.

University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching. Reflecting on your Practice: Applying Inclusive Teaching Principles.

How to cite this page:

UMass Amherst IDEAS Team. (2024, February). Equity & Inclusion in Online Teaching.