Breaking barriers – Creating an inclusive learning environment for blended learning classes

Concurrent Session 3
Equity and Inclusion

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Using the right technology can create an inclusive and active learning environment for students to feel safe to share their thoughts without the fear of being shut down or singled out. The presenters will demonstrate and discuss different activities used in synchronized blended classes to encourage student participation.


Dr. Sherry Lin is an Instructional Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy & Management at Texas A&M University. Dr. Lin teaches undergraduate courses in public health, health policy, and data management and assessment. She has developed multiple undergraduate courses and worked with faculty across the school and University on curriculum-related issues. Dr. Lin's research focuses on children with special health care needs and public health teaching pedagogy.
I have worked as an online facilitator, instructional designer, eLearning developer, and program manager. I have the skills to design and develop learning materials for online, blended, or face-to-face programs. I constantly assess and evaluate emerging technologies for adoption and integration. In 2016, I received the Woman in EdTech Scholarship Award from the Online Learning Consortium (OLC).

Extended Abstract

With blended learning being more common now than before, instructors are thrilled to find ways to engage distant/remote learning students to ensure they receive the same quality of education as those who attend the class in person. Using the right technology can create a safe environment for students to voice questions, respond to questions, or share opinions without the fear of being shut down or singled out. Technologies can also overcome the barriers of distance to create a more inclusive environment for students. Creating this kind of inclusive classroom helps foster open discussions. It encourages students to ask questions that they truly do not know the answer to but might have been afraid of asking because it was already covered or divisive. Creating this inclusive space also encourages students of diverse learning backgrounds to answer questions and become fully engaged in the learning process by feeling comfortable incorporating their personal knowledge and experiences. Inclusive and active classrooms ultimately benefit all types of students—the eager outspoken student, the quiet and reserved student, and every type of student in between. However, the constant challenge is creating this inclusive and active classroom, especially in synchronize classes. Using technology can help mitigate many of these challenges.

In this session, the presenters will use PollEverywhere and discuss different activities used in synchronized classes to encourage student participation to promote active learning. PollEverywhere is a polling system that promotes active learning that instructors can use to create polls and open-ended questions that encourage students to honestly share their ideas. Questions can be embedded in the lecture slides to help instructors receive real-time responses from students or to help script question periods to break up the lecture and provide opportunities for active feedback and higher-level processing. These responses, without names enabled, can encourage students to share their true opinions and reduce the feeling that they will be judged by others for their answers. Instructors can address the different responses and opinions as teaching tools to explain and emphasize important concepts. Instructors have the ability to keep the responses anonymous for other students during class, so students will be more confident in sharing their true opinion.  The instructor will still be able to review the responses with names and provide grades and feedback after class.

Level of Participation:

Attendees will have opportunities to actively engage the presentation using PollEverywhere. The presenters will demonstrate different types of activities used in synchronized blended classes to encourage student participation to promote active learning.

Session Goals:

Attendees will be able to practice using PollEverywhere during the presentation and identify opportunities in their own classes where polling activities could be used to encourage student engagement and also share their opinions honestly. Attendees will also be able to share their experiences in creating an inclusive learning environment.