Inclusion in Online & Hybrid Settings

What do I need to know about inclusion?

The idea that students are “digital natives” does not mean they are prepared for hybrid or online learning. Students may need support as they join you in hybrid or learning environments.

When running a synchronous session in Zoom, you may need to be a more active and directive facilitator than usual.

What can I do to promote an inclusive hybrid or online classroom?

Share best practices with students as you get started:

  • ask them to mute themselves unless they are speaking
  • ask them to update their profile to display their name (as meeting host, you can also update names)
  • depending on the class format, invite students to choose gallery or speaker view in the Zoom screen
  • if a student joins by phone without a camera, ask speakers to say their name before speaking
  • set expectations for virtual backgrounds. For example, you might request that virtual backgrounds remain unchanged or not be distracting
  • log in early to greet students informally, and spend a few minutes chatting, as you would in your classroom
  • set expectations for how students should use the chat function. Is it okay if students post comments, questions, and additional resources in the chat while you lecture and/or hold a discussion? This can be an alternative way to ask questions that allows for minimal interruption 
  • class size is important to your discussion management strategy
    • in small classes, have everyone speak at the beginning and end of each session (you will need to identify speakers as participants are not displayed in the same order on everyone's screen) 
    • for larger classes, use Zoom breakout rooms and have students select a notetaker, reporter, and timekeeper. Be sure to leave time for each group to report to the class
  • to manage difficult discussions, suggest that students acknowledge the value of a peer's statement before disagreeing or arguing with it
  • to mitigate the likelihood of inappropriate comments or behavior, establish clear expectations that student contributions should be academic, professional, and respectful. This may involve revising your class guidelines for inclusion
  • some students are less comfortable than others with the video camera on for a variety of reasons. Establish collaboratively with students when they are expected to have their camera on (e.g., at the start and end of class, in break out rooms, ice breakers) and why.


F. Casetelli & M. Sarvary. (2021). Why students do not turn on their video cameras during online classes and an equitable and inclusive plan to encourage them to do so. Ecology and Evolution, 00:1-12.