Culturally responsive teaching in online classrooms

My recent talk at the Champions of Learning Conference centered on culturally responsive online practices. So what is culturally responsive teaching?
Culturally responsive teaching in online classrooms

Advancements in digital innovation have given millions of learners across the country access to educational opportunities that could improve their lives. In the field of instructional design in higher education, it is understood that many online students fit in the category of the “non-traditional learner,” meaning they are usually older than the average student. But what is not often talked about is how diverse this student body can be, and what kind of potential that provides educators and instructional designers.

Yes, online college students are not the same as the typical undergraduate student, but the pedagogical differences we can implement to better serve this population are what is pushing universities and organizations to address the needs of this demographic in their growing list of digital learning programs.

Recently I attended and spoke at the South Florida chapter of the Association of Talent Development’s annual Champions of Learning Conference. Along with other subject matter experts, I sought to inspire educators, consultants and educational technology entrepreneurs to create digital products that help promote a culturally rich learning community.

My talk, entitled Imagine All the People: Culturally Responsive Online Practices, focused on the implementation of culturally responsive teaching. What’s that? The belief that culture is at the core of learning effectively. How do we as instructional designers and educators fit into this? Through the inclusive and accessible ways we deliver information and shape the thinking process of our students and class groups.

I sought to highlight the best practices within culturally responsive teaching, including using a “framework of rigor” (Hammond & Jackson 2015) that can be implemented to create a culturally responsive learning environment. We can do this by embracing the diversity of our digital learners, allowing us to move one step closer to creating a more educated and fulfilled society.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can implement culturally responsive practices in your online courses, or simply learn more about transitioning your courses to an online learning environment, I encourage you to contact me. I can be reached via email at Our Distance Learning Institute’s Instructional Design and Technology Certificate and Leadership in Instructional Design and Technology Certificate starts soon, if you’d like to learn more about the courses offered and the certificate program requirements, you can visit the program information page or our website,

I’ll leave you with this: “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” – Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Hammond, Z., & Jackson, Y. (2015). Culturally responsive teaching and the brain: Promoting authentic engagement and rigor among culturally and linguistically diverse students.

About the University of Miami Division of Continuing and International Education

The Division of Continuing and International Education at the University of Miami aims to empower people to reach their full potential through lifelong and lifewide learning. With more than 70 credit and non-credit programs, the Division focuses on creating continuous learning experiences that transform individuals, organizations, and entire communities. For more information, please visit or call (305) 284-4000 and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Division of Continuing and International Education
Division of Continuing and International Education