December 6, 2023

Promote inclusivity in your classroom with these DEI development activities

DEI training is becoming more common in workplaces around the world – but what about classrooms? Incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) resources can help create an educational environment where every student feels respected and accepted. So how can you incorporate DEI development activities into your virtual and asynchronous instructor-led courses to promote inclusivity in your classroom?

6 DEI development activities for your virtual classroom

First, incorporating DEI development initiatives into your lesson plan can be beneficial regardless of the age group of your class or existing curriculum. It is important to go through the course material regularly to make sure everything is in order and up to date to avoid teaching outdated modules. If you want to incorporate some DEI development activities into it, here is a list of creative activities to consider.

1. Storytelling

Storytelling can create a learning framework that presents information in an easily digestible way and helps increase knowledge retention. Additionally, storytelling encourages storyteller and audience to connect on a deeper, more emotional level, which can help shift perspective toward acceptance. Hearing about someone’s lived experience can build a shared sense of solidarity or unity, especially at a younger age. One option is to let students choose their own DEI topic and create stories that contain meaningful messages that they can present to their peers during your virtual lessons. If your course is asynchronous, ask them to send a comic detailing their chosen story or upload it for later viewing.

2. Online book clubs

Starting a book club can be perfect for your DEI development curriculum. Choose a set of books or audiobooks that reflect your chosen DEI topics and your grade level. You can even ask your students to join in recommending novels or short stories they’ve enjoyed. A book club can become a monthly or bi-monthly meeting where the whole class comes together to discuss major plots and lessons learned. It is also a great opportunity to delve deeper into the historical background of the novel’s setting and compare it to current situations. Experiencing how the world is constantly changing can offer valuable life lessons in how perspectives change and are shaped by time and geography. Finally, books can help your students become aware of the more obscure aspects of different identities or cultures, which cultivates a more inclusive and accepting classroom environment.

3. Practicing Empathy

Empathy is a skill that can be learned with transformative power and should be taught in every grade or classroom, whether virtual or in person. Learning to practice empathy improves communication and collaboration among peers and helps students respect and accept experiences different from their own. Start by encouraging and rewarding positive student interaction. Since digital learning environments don’t always involve face-to-face interaction, try to adjust your strategy to identify areas that need special attention and get to know each student. For example, even if your course is asynchronous, you can request a personal statement letter from each student to learn more about them and develop your strategy moving forward.

4. Artistic expression

Combining the arts with DEI’s developmental activities not only supports students’ personal and emotional growth – it can also teach them self-reflection and self-expression and further develop their emotional intelligence. Incorporating art into digital learning environments can also help build healthy learning spaces with diverse creative outlets and improve students’ critical thinking skills. You could task your students with creating digital artwork or mood boards around something they found meaningful in your DEI curriculum and hold a virtual gallery opening where everyone gets a chance to explain why they chose their subject for discussion as a team. Alternatively, you can present famous works of art that bring interesting discussion points to your diversity curriculum. The possibilities are endless.

5. Virtual tours

Exploring different places in the world can help your students learn about other cultures, practices, and belief systems. It also gives them a broader and more expansive view of the mechanics of the world, people and experiences different from their own, helping them develop a stronger sense of cultural appreciation. Plan virtual field trips to immerse students in a digital learning environment. Assign thematic presentations as follow-ups or provide additional reading material for those who want to learn more about each location. A fun activity for the class would be to design a trip to another country from start to finish, such as finding flights, accommodation, tours, activities and places to eat. As an added bonus, it helps your students develop their organizational skills.

6. Plus-Ones

To target your students’ DEI development on a broader level, you can ask for participation from their social circle during some selected activities. They can invite some friends or family members into your virtual classroom and work together to solve puzzles and mysteries or create projects around different topics of diversity and inclusion. Not only does it help you better understand your students’ backgrounds, but it also allows your classroom to incorporate familiar elements into the learning environment. It’s also a good idea to help your inner circle of students learn to talk about diversity and inclusion so they can further help develop your students’ DEI.


Approaches to diversity, equity and inclusion in virtual learning environments are essential to creating safe, inclusive learning spaces and to developing well-rounded and empathetic individuals. DEI development activities can take many forms depending on the age group or level of your students, whether your course is instructor-led or asynchronous, and your classroom curriculum itself. You can also visit our list of the best content providers to find a content provider that can help you boost your virtual classroom immediately.

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