An online course on inclusive teaching, created and piloted last year at Cornell, will be available to all educators in November as a massive open online course (MOOC).
The course, Teaching & Learning in the Diverse Classroom, explores strategies for creating and sustaining effective and inclusive learning environments where all students are positioned to excel, and it gives faculty the tools to teach across difference.
“This course embodies Cornell’s commitment to diversity and accessibility,” said Mathew Ouellett, executive director of the Center for Teaching Innovation (CTI). “It is an effort to implement best practices and strategies in our increasingly diverse classrooms as we learn more and society changes.”
Last fall, CTI launched Teaching & Learning in the Diverse Classroom to help instructors on campus create inclusive learning environments where this sense of belonging is accessible to all students.
“The course is not just about teaching in the diverse classroom,” said Melina Ivanchikova, associate director of inclusive teaching at CTI. “It’s really an invitation to consider teaching from the perspective of how all students learn and to explore why who we are as individuals matters in the teaching and learning context, both for instructors and students.”
The five-week course explores key concepts, research and strategies around inclusive course design and student-centered teaching practices, and provides opportunities to reflect on how the complexities of social identity impact the learning environment. It features the voices and stories of Cornell students and instructors; participants in the pilot said the student and instructor video testimonials were one of the most powerful and memorable aspects of the class.
A facilitator’s guide is available upon request for schools interested in creating a cohort of learners on their campuses, and participants are encouraged to take the course with a friend or colleague.
“We’ve put together a great resource, and we want to make it as widely available and easy to access as possible because we think there’s that much benefit to it,” Ouellett said. “It’s a resource that has a specific application to our campus but also application to any college or university setting.”
CTI will continue to offer a campus version of the course for the Cornell teaching community. The next session will run Oct. 7 to Nov. 1.
At Cornell, the course is just one of numerous entry points for creating a culture of belonging. From the president’s office to individual colleges, departments and centers, initiatives and programs are: providing direct support to individuals from underrepresented groups; recruiting and retaining a more diverse faculty, staff and student body; and providing opportunities for the community to engage in vital dialogue across difference.
“We want to have a positive impact on our Cornell campus,” said Ouellett. “We also hope to influence those in the broader environment, to provide the opportunities to reflect, to learn from the research and to encourage participants to take action to create a more inclusive community.”
Caitlin Hayes is a communications specialist at the Center for Teaching Innovation.