Level the Playing Field

Back in 2007, the North American Council for Online Learning published a paper titled, Access and Equity in Online Classes and Virtual Schools.

Design decisions and how online courses fit into the range of options available to students impact the level of educational equity and programmatic access the program provides.

Institutions have a responsibility to:

  • make their DE program available to students who don’t have their own computers, or
    who don’t have the bandwidth to make participation in the online programs reasonable
  • from the outset, courses must be intentionally designed with accessibility
    in mind; for example: video resources should be captioned, text transcripts should be available for audio resources, and downloadable materials saved in a format that’s machine readable
  • all students should benefit from quality and speed of responses from instructors, as well as alert notifications when students fall behind
  • course guidelines must be provided related to behavior that could be interpreted as cyberbullying
  • discouraging cheating/plagiarism

Establishing a successful learning culture requires a constant respect for academic integrity. There are few studies that conclude whether cheating occurs more frequently in online courses. However, it’s natural to assume high stakes assessments (midterm and final exams/papers that hold more grade weight) are probably more frequent targets of cheating. Honor pledges and frequent reminders about the consequences in course materials are useful strategies



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