Commenced in January 2007
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Edition: International
Paper Count: 32451
Designing for Inclusion within the Learning Management System: Social Justice, Identities, and Online Design for Digital Spaces in Higher Education

Authors: Christina Van Wingerden


The aim of this paper is to propose pedagogical design for learning management systems (LMS) that offers greater inclusion for students based on a number of theoretical perspectives and delineated through an example. Considering the impact of COVID-19, including on student mental health, the research suggesting the importance of student sense of belonging on retention, success, and student well-being, the author describes intentional LMS design incorporating theoretically based practices informed by critical theory, feminist theory, indigenous theory and practices, and new materiality. This article considers important aspects of these theories and practices which attend to inclusion, identities, and socially just learning environments. Additionally, increasing student sense of belonging and mental health through LMS design influenced by adult learning theory and the community of inquiry model are described.  The process of thinking through LMS pedagogical design with inclusion intentionally in mind affords the opportunity to allow LMS to go beyond course use as a repository of documents, to an intentional community of practice that facilitates belonging and connection, something much needed in our times. In virtual learning environments it has been harder to discern how students are doing, especially in feeling connected to their courses, their faculty, and their student peers. Increasingly at the forefront of public universities is addressing the needs of students with multiple and intersecting identities and the multiplicity of needs and accommodations. Education in 2020, and moving forward, calls for embedding critical theories and inclusive ideals and pedagogies to the ways instructors design and teach in online platforms. Through utilization of critical theoretical frameworks and instructional practices, students may experience the LMS as a welcoming place with intentional plans for welcoming diversity in identities.

Keywords: Belonging, critical pedagogy, instructional design, Learning Management System, LMS.

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