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5 Tips To Make Your Course More Inclusive

Written by: Tracy Sherriff, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Inclusive language is a critical component of course design. Inclusive language refers to language that is free from bias and does not discriminate or marginalize people based on their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or other personal characteristics.

students having fun together sitting outside school

It is a way to ensure that all learners feel welcome, respected, and valued in the learning environment. In this article, I will discuss why inclusive language is important in course design and how educators can incorporate it into their instructional practices.

First and foremost, inclusive language is important in course design because it helps create an environment where all learners feel safe and welcome. When learners encounter language that is biased or discriminatory, it can create feelings of exclusion and marginalization, which can have negative impacts on their ability to learn and engage with the course content. Inclusive language sends a message that all learners are valued and respected.

In addition to creating a more welcoming environment, inclusive language can also help to promote critical thinking and diverse perspectives. When learners encounter language that is free from bias and discrimination, they are more likely to engage with the course content in a meaningful way, and to consider a wider range of perspectives and ideas. This can lead to a richer, more inclusive learning experience for everyone involved.

So, How Can Course Creators Incorporate Inclusive Language Into Their Course Design? Here Are A Few Tips:

  1. Use gender-neutral language: Avoid using gender-specific pronouns like "he" or "she" when referring to learners or instructors. Instead, use gender-neutral pronouns like "they" or "them."

  2. Avoid stereotypes and assumptions: Be mindful of the language you use when describing people from different cultural backgrounds or with different personal characteristics. Avoid stereotypes and assumptions that may be hurtful or exclusionary.

  3. Use inclusive terminology: Use language that is inclusive of all learners. For example, use "partner" instead of "husband" or "wife" when referring to a learner's significant other. According to a report by the American Psychological Association, using biased or discriminatory language can have negative effects on individuals' mental and emotional well-being, which in turn can affect their ability to learn and engage with course content (APA, 2021).

  4. Be open to feedback: Finally, be open to feedback from learners about the language used in the course. Encourage learners to share their thoughts and concerns about language use, and be willing to make changes as needed to create a more inclusive learning environment.

  5. Include diverse perspectives in course materials: Ensure that course materials include diverse perspectives and representations of people from different cultures, races, genders, abilities, and backgrounds. This can include using examples and case studies that showcase diverse experiences, as well as incorporating materials created by people from diverse backgrounds. By doing so, learners can see themselves reflected in the course content, and feel a sense of belonging and inclusivity.

Inclusive language is a critical component of course design. It helps create a more welcoming, inclusive learning environment where all learners can feel valued and respected. By incorporating inclusive language into their instructional practices, educators can promote critical thinking, diverse perspectives, and a richer, more inclusive learning experience for everyone involved.

The information presented in this post is supported by research and best practices in the field of education and inclusivity. Educators and course designers can refer to resources such as the National Center on Disability and Access to Education, and the LGBTQ Resource Center's guide to inclusive language for LGBTQIA+ communities for more guidance on inclusive language practices.

For assistance with creating a course with accessibility in mind, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or visit my website.


Tracy Sherriff, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Tracy Sherrif is a curriculum specialist and course operations expert who helps entrepreneurs, coaches, and service-based professionals scale their business online. Her podcast, Scale Your Course, focuses on helping her audience with the process of designing and delivering impactful courses and online programs. She is the founder of Course Design School™ a program that supports coaches and other experts with organizing their unique solutions into actionable learning experiences that changes people's lives. She also offers 1:1 consulting and Done With You services.





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