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Universal Design for Learning
Curriculum Considerations

The Engagement Principle Removes Barriers to Online Learning

This BC Campus 2020 reportOpens in a new window (ABLE Research Consultants, 2020) reviews and lists evidence-based practices to address the inequity and barriers related to online learning (for more, see the section on the digital divide in Module 4). Three main themes were identified:

  1. problems with inequitable access to resources (e.g., internet, technology tools)
  2. clear digital literacy inequities resulting from social and political forces that increase social stratification
  3. an urgent need for quality instruction and resources because online learning increases the cognitive load for learners

The research also identified three areas that provide a framework for thinking about pedagogy in online learning: equity mindedness, cultural affirmation, and social engagement (ABLE Research Consultants, 2020, pp. 14-17).

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Check out the Online Learning Consortium playbooksOpens in a new window for developing high-quality online learning for students and for caring for and welcoming students.

Consistent to the findings above, a recent study of participants’ perceptions of online learningOpens in a new window highlighted that while over half of the survey respondents perceived online learning to be convenient and accessible, among the challenges mentioned, engagement clearly stood out. Missing elements related to engagement included: instructor provision of interaction and support, demonstrated caring about the wellbeing of students, and enabling students to communicate.

Next sectionEngagement and the Community of Inquiry Model