2020 & Disruptions to our 2019/2020 UDL Project
[JULY 21, 2020]
It’s taken me a long time to get back to this project. We wrapped our last Sharing Circle discussion with students on March 11; just a few days after that, COVID-19 had disrupted everything for everybody. All of us in the eLearning unit moved into emergency-response mode as we supported the institutional scramble to finish the term online.
For all the students – and college faculty & staff – who participated in our project and the students who generously and bravely shared their stories with the 2019/2020 UDL Project Team, thank you. I speak for myself and on behalf of this year’s project team when I say we were grateful for your contributions and honoured by your trust in us.
When this current period of all-consuming focus on preparing for Fall 2020 eases off enough to allow it, I will pick up the project where our team had to leave it in March. Some of our planned project outcomes may take longer to achieve now and may look a bit different than we’d originally intended, but your stories will be honoured, and the experiences and needs you shared with us will still inform the development of a valuable learning tool for our college community.
Thank you again, and wishing you all the best.
Instructional Designer in eLearning, Centre for Excellence in Teaching & Learning;
Principle Investigator for the UDL Project at Camosun College.
(2019/2020) Connecting with Camosun Students
Dear Camosun College Students:
Do accessibility-related challenges impact your student life at college?
If so, we’d like to hear from you!
Accessibility challenges for students at college can be the result of a mismatch between what you need to succeed as a student and how components of college experiences and environments have been designed. If you cannot access things like information or services in the way they have been designed or provided, this may have created accessibility-related challenges for you.
Please check out the Accessibility Challenges section of this project website to find out how and when you could participate in this project and share your experiences with the UDL Project Team.
Opportunities to connect in person or online will be available from February 24 through March 16, 2020:
Thank you in advance, from this year’s UDL Project Team:
- Sue Doner, Principle Investigator. Faculty, Centre for Excellence in Teaching & Learning.
- Jennifer LeVecque. Faculty, Centre for Accessible Learning.
- Shane Baker. Operations Assistant for UDL Project; Student in the Indigenous Studies Diploma Program.
- Melissa Lyon. Operations Assistant for UDL Project; Graduate Student in VIU’s Master in Special Education.
(2018/2019) Why we need tools that support inclusive design in education.
During Phase 1 of this project, we launched this website: “Practical Applications of Universal Design for Learning (UDL): Inclusion is not a checklist“ because:
“The homogenous class made up of students of similar abilities, backgrounds, ethnicities, interests, learning styles, languages and expectations is long gone – if it ever existed.” 1
In February 2019, Camosun College finalized, approved, and adopted its first Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Policy. This was followed by our annual Conversations Day, where this year the college community gathered to participate in discussions about Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. In round-table discussions and breakout sessions, recurring questions from that day included:
- “What do we do to create inclusive environments and learning opportunities?”, and
- “What can we be doing better when it comes to building and sustaining inclusive teaching & learning environments?”
These are highly practical questions and deserve practical suggestions and guidelines in response. From a teaching & learning perspective, when we make design choices that enable access to learning for our more marginalized students, we create more resilient and flexible learning environments for all students.
For starters, we need to acknowledge that achieving inclusive design in our teaching & learning approaches and practices is going to be more complex than following something like a static or rigid how-to checklist. The very diversity of our community means that what makes something inclusive will vary from one individual to the next and a checklist alone will just never be flexible enough.
To support our ability to make inclusive design choices in our teaching & learning practices, we need to engage in meaningful collaborations and build a toolkit of inclusive design frameworks, principles and guidelines we can draw from.
“If you aren’t using an inclusive process or inclusive tools, you are fundamentally saying: ‘We’re comfortable with a certain population of people not being involved in this‘.” 2
Among the ecosystem of tools3 in our toolkit of inclusive education design approaches are the proactive strategies found in the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines.
“UDL [Universal Design for Learning] is based upon the belief that learner variability is the norm… Change occurs when a learning environment is designed proactively to facilitate access to all course materials, instruction, engagement activities, and evaluations, regardless of learner variability.” 4
1 Gorham, Jody & Roberts, Barbara. “You need to know about universal design for learning”. UA/AU University Affairs. August 6, 2014.
2 Jess Mitchell, excerpted from BCcampus Inclusive Design Webinar Series, Part 1 (Feb.5, 2019) with Jess Mitchell from the IDRC.
3 Examples of tools that support inclusive design in education: UDL; Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1; Open Education Practices; Applied Learning Principles; First People’s Learning Principles; Dr. Martin Brokenleg’s “Circle of Courage”.
4 Excerpted from allUDL.ca (September 2018).