No one starts at zero: Discovering the balance of power for inclusive online learning

Concurrent Session 4

Brief Abstract

Where are you on the learning responsibility scale? Explore how student centered environments that address Equity & Inclusion creates a new, positive shift in online learning by giving responsibility to both the instructor and learners. Discover how bringing civic engagement and balancing the power creates a more enriched learning environment for student and instructor.


Tina Calandrino has worked as an educator in higher learning for over 25 years. She began her college career as Faculty at Miami-Dade College, and later St. Petersburg College. She has embraced what technology can do for students, and sought to share that knowledge with other educators around the world. Currently serving as Instructional Design Faculty at the University of Central Florida's Center for Distributed Learning, her research currently focuses on Gender/Age/Cultural Awareness and Faculty Development for Online Learning.
Flo Williams works as a faculty instructional designer at the University of Central Florida. In this role, she engages in pedagogical faculty support. Her work with faculty includes faculty coaching, mentoring, and designing and developing online and blended courses. Her volunteer efforts support quality and sustainable engagement practices in the Higher Education Milieu.

Extended Abstract

Those who teach often look, sound and have different experiences from the learners causing students to feel excluded or invisible in learning spaces where these inequities persist. Online learning brings a new set of challenges to traditional fairness in design, and, thus, widening the equity gap. What if you could discover where your own perceptions and biases keep barriers raised? What if you could help bring a balance of power to the classroom through inclusive design practices, civic engagement strategies, and collaborative learning to bring all students back to the center of learning. 

This interactive session uses the basic Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework–with a DEI twist! Many instructors and instructional designers have every intent to improve access to learning more equally, while treating everyone equitably, yet often trip over well-intentioned hazards that are meant to support different students depending on their individual needs.  By uncovering hidden biases, where the attendee stands on the Diversity wheel, the goal of civic engagement as positive course strategy for equity, will interconnect these concepts with UDL to draw upon exciting new skills to bring back to their home institutions. 

Attendees will create their collaborative lists for course to identify strategic solutions for removing barriers in online courses, and partake in searches for grassroot equity and inclusion groups in their hometowns. This makes all attendees a part of the call to action, and no longer a passive supporter of DEI. By making all attendees aware of their perceptions, sharing those perceptions, and, expanding those perceptions, the online and blended learning process becomes student centered.  By instructional designers and faculty modeling this call to action is vitally important for power shift within the educational structure. Online courses can be a showcase for the students to understand that it takes everyone to work together towards bettering society and yourself. If teachers can identify issues in their community, and talk about that with their students, they will have the foundation to talk about what's going on in their online space, and how the students really feel. The power balance becomes one of trust and relationship building through equity, inclusion and civic engagement.


Your plan for interactivity (this is often overlooked - including a strong engagement strategy is one way you can significantly raise your scores during the evaluation process.

This session will include audience participation and collaboration to mimic student engagement opportunties to create online classroom inclusion and equity practices:

  • Shared notetaking for the creation of a checklist for identifying inequities in higher education from a defined list
  • Discovering what is in a local community to help student/instructor civic engement
  • Creating a punchlist for practical solutions for implementing or managing change

What the attendees are going to learn from the presentation (the takeaways)

After this sessions, attendees will be able to take virtual handouts back to their home campuses to begin influcening course development and design for inclusive practices. These takaways include personal and institutional discoveries as well as defined UDL framework templates: 

  • Matrix of hope
  • Hidden DEI biases
  • Punchlist for UDL/DEI framework
  • Ideas for identifying and working on rebalancing classroom engagement through student and faculty action
  • Student centered learning for DEI
  • Student responsibility and power in the classroom
  • Community responsibility and call to action