Promoting Inclusivity Through Collaborative Design Conversations

Equity and Inclusion

Watch This Session

Watch This Session

Brief Abstract

Drawing on a model for collaborative interactions between faculty and instructional designers (Drysdale, 2019) along with inclusive design practices, a team of instructional designers formulated a set of questions intended to elicit conversations with faculty about inclusivity in their online course designs. Join and learn our strategies.


Heather Garcia is an instructional design specialist with Oregon State University Ecampus. She holds a Masters degree in Instructional Science and Technology from California State University, Monterey Bay and has over a decade of experience collaborating with faculty and other experts on the design and development of online, hybrid, and in-person courses and training programs. Heather has presented in regional, national, and online conferences on topics related to instructional design and faculty development.

Extended Abstract

Instructional designers are regularly working to build positive, trusting relationships with faculty. These relationships often involve a process of discovery through questioning, where the instructional designer is seeking input from the faculty member on the course content, and the faculty is seeking expertise on course design, often for an online environment. Asking questions is essential to a productive and effective working relationship (Berger, 2018). However, questions aren’t--or shouldn’t be--just a means to an end. Thoughtful questioning can lead to improved collaboration and, as a result, stronger working relationships. But, why stop there? How can we, as instructional designers, ask questions that not only elicit answers and build trust, but also elicit important conversations on inclusivity in online courses? When working with faculty, what strategies can we use to facilitate these conversations?

While we recognize that there are resources for learning about inclusive teaching, most opportunities are tailored to faculty teaching in face-to-face environments. Moreover, instructional designers work with faculty who have varying levels of familiarity with inclusive practices. We need strategies for collaborating with all faculty in the area of inclusivity. In order to meet this need, we are working on an inquiry approach that can facilitate more inclusive-oriented consultations with instructors in higher education. The inquiry approach encourages faculty to think about questions in the depth that best suits their experience-level. In that way, the approach we will share is appropriate to use with faculty who are not familiar with inclusive principles as well as faculty who are already invested in inclusivity.

The presenters of this discovery session will share their approach in which IDs are equipped with strategies and tools to facilitate design conversations related to inclusivity. Drawing on principles of inclusive teaching, we identify strategies that are specific to online courses. We align strategies with a typical design and development cycle. For each identified teaching strategy, we suggest questions that instructional designers can ask faculty in their design conversations. For example, during the design process, when faculty are selecting course materials, an instructional designer could ask questions related to the extent that those materials resonate with students. In this way, the design discussion can be directed to bringing a range of voices into the course materials. 

The proposed questions are modeled after the positive core questions approach, an important component of the Collaborative Mapping Model (CMM), a model for relationship-centered instructional design, specifically for a higher education context (Drysdale, 2019). Participants will be challenged to come up with additional positive questions or share their own strategies for fostering positive conversations with faculty. Faculty participants will be challenged to reflect on the proposed questions in the context of the courses they teach.

Participants will come away from this session with awareness of how important it is to talk about inclusive design and with approaches they can try in their own context to elicit in-depth reflections from faculty involved in online teaching. Instructional designers will have concrete strategies they can adopt and adapt during their design conversations with faculty to promote positive conversations around inclusive design and teaching with the ultimate goal of reaching a more diverse student population.


Berger, W. (2018). The Book of Beautiful Questions: The Powerful Questions that Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead. Bloomsbury Publishing USA.

Drysdale, J. (2019). The collaborative mapping model: Relationship-centered instructional design for higher education. Online Learning, 23(3), 56-71. doi:10.24059/olj.v23i3.2058