Leveraging D2L/Brightspace to Enhance Equity in Your Course: Part 1 of 6
One of the priorities of the YESS initiative and strategic plan at PCC is
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. Reinforcing racial justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion as core to improving student outcomes.
The goal of this series of blog posts is to set an intention of moving toward all teaching being inclusive and equitable, and away from having to define what inclusive, equitable teaching is. Additionally, we strive to move toward a framework where equity and inclusion inform everything we do as instructors and faculty support. We want to embrace equity as the framework from which we make decisions, create resources, and interact with students. In this three part blog post, we will explore tools in D2L Brightspace that can be used to enhance equity and also make life easier for instructors!
Good teaching = inclusive teaching.
Why Target the LMS?
D2L Brightspace is the common denominator among almost every course offered at PCC. For all Remote and Online courses, there are minimum expectations for use of D2L that include things like announcements to students, course information/syllabus, and grade updates so students can track progress. PCC offers support to faculty who are using and learning D2L for online teaching. Students at PCC in 2021 reported high importance but lower satisfaction with the quality of online instruction, feedback, and consistency in the quality of instruction from one online course to another. We can use the tools in D2L Brightspace to address consistency and quality very easily. Lastly, leveraging the LMS is a low cost, high impact strategy for faculty to save time and energy in delivering strategies for students that increase equity and support organization.
Use Announcements to Build Connections with Students
Whether students have a connection with faculty is one of the most important factors in whether or not they persist with education. A sense of belonging is an incredibly important factor for students whose identities are underrepresented in college. In her book Effective Online Teaching, Tina Stavredes notes that “the quantity, timeliness, and quality of your interactions with learners are critical to helping them persist in the course and achieve the course outcomes.”
The Announcements tool in D2L enables you to create news items that help communicate course updates, changes, and new information to your students quickly and effectively. You can use Announcements to welcome students to the course at the beginning of the term, and let them know of any important deadlines or materials that have been added to the course. When you write announcements, think about the tone are you conveying and use encouraging and welcoming language.
Here are our recommendations for using the Announcements tool:
- Keep announcements short, think of them as headlines. Give detailed instruction in the course content area, or on individual assignments.
- Send a weekly announcement early in the week (Sunday or Monday) sharing what students will be working on that week.
- Depending on length, keep 2-3 announcements visible at a time.
- It’s best to set an End Date for announcements that you would like to keep for future use.
- Teach students to use the announcements tool for updates by avoiding sending email to the whole class. Reserve email for one-on-one interactions.
- Use the replace strings feature on your announcements to personalize your messages.
Read the Online Learning documentation about Using the Announcements in D2L to apply our suggestions to your course.
Check out these other opportunities to learn about building connections with students through equitable communications.
- OLC Increasing Interaction and Engagement (workshop details) Register
- Creating Presence in your Online Course (workshop details) Register
We hope our suggestions are actionable and helpful, and inspire you to think about simple changes you can make to your course to enhance equity. Look for the next post in the six part series on how to use feedback to build connections with students. Please share your experiences using announcements in the comments below!