I’m currently on a short retreat/vacation with my wife (or I was when I wrote this) and had the opportunity to get out and about for a walk in the woods. Being the end of March, the spring thaw is in full stride and so the sights and sounds of spring are plentiful. While the green hue of the first grass and leaves is still buried under snow, the sound of runoff is everywhere.
On my way back up the hill to our little cabin, I stopped to record some of those runoff sounds and ended up recording in four different places with four very different sounds. Then I got back and was ready to show off my compositions, and realized that the ‘failed to upload’ warning that I got meant that the clips were gone.
So, I turned cellular data on for the app and headed back out. This time I was going downhill and I noticed the pattern more clearly than before. Whe I recorded just outside our cabin, the sound of the water is faint and almost lost in the sound of the breeze, but as I got further down the mountain, the sounds became much louder, more varied, and dependent upon the local conditions.
It occured to me that this is why David Wiley talks about the importance of downstream effects when resources are openly licensed.
Initially, my little contribution to the commons is easily drowned out by irrelevant and external forces, but as it is joined to other similar contributions, together, they make more of an impact. As more and more contributions are added to the commons, they become a more cohesive stream and a more powerful force in the world.
Every once in a while, on their way down stream, they go over a sharp incline and their combined effects become even more profound. But notice that if it had only been my one little contribution, it would have quickly been soaked into the ground or evaporated. It is really when other people begin to contribute their own ideas to mine, that the magic begins to happen.
Each obstacle or different local condition creates a different sound. The waterfall is a higher pitch and a more frenzied sound than where the water runs deeper through a narrow passage. And the sound is more muted but still loud and clearly recognizable when the little stream runs under a snowbank.
Open resources are much the same. The open license allows for localization, meaning that individual faculty are free to adjust the resource as they see fit, creating a slightly different, and better-for-them resource than existed before.
opening education by Colin Madland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Word has gotten around that I’m proposing changes.
That could be the end and enough to strike fear in the heart of any introverted educational technologist. But last night, I was invited to speak to the faculty of the program which is up for review and revision. Some of them are worried, and I certainly don’t blame them for that. But I do think that the concerns being voiced, while valid, are not fatal to what I hope to do.
Changing a teaching and learning paradigm is not something that happens overnight, unless that is something that is built in to a teacher’s practice. Keeping up is a lot easier than catching up.
I recognize that I’m proposing a model of online teaching and learning that is quite different from a traditional ‘online’ model that grew out of either a f2f or a correspondence model. But I do think that the difficulty in changing will be overshadowed by the benefits gained by rethinking how we invite students to engage with the program.
But, if we are going to be different; if we are going to become leaders in the field; if we are going to have broad impact, we need to do things differently.
The two primary concerns voiced today were around privacy and digital literacy.
I used an example of a student’s response to a discussion question in Moodle. The response was detailed, well-articulated, properly cited, connected to an authentic problem, and exactly what should be expected of a graduate student in an online course. I asked if it would have been appropriate for that response to have been shared on the public web. The answer to that was a rather emphatic ‘No!’.
The reason for that response was that the student was an international student writing about a former employer ‘back home’ and if the post was public on the web, the student could have been in significant trouble with the government, including being disallowed from returning home.
It’s hard to argue with the severity of those possible consequences. So I didn’t. I acknowledged them as real and relevant. However, should such a clear case example of the consequences of students working on the open web stop us from allowing it? I don’t think so.
One thing that became clear in the ensuing conversation was that we must not require students to do their work in the open, and I agree whole-heartedly. But we don’t need to require students to do that in order to see the benefits of working in the open. It was pointed out that this was a ‘fringe’ example, and not the norm with our students.
What we can do, instead of requiring certain modes of interaction, is to invite participation that is more open, in situations where doing so is appropriate. And that leads directly to the other concern, digital literacy.
Our students are studying and practicing leadership as they work towards an MA in Leadership. At times, the content of the classes can be intensely personal or confidential, and if students are required to participate in the open, they could be at significant risk of breaching confidentiality. However, what I suggested is that that shouldn’t lead us to avoid the web at all costs, but that we need to be intentional about giving our students the digital skills, awareness, and discernment to be able to interact in a connected world.
Predictably, Audrey Wattters says it better than I
Giving students their own digital domain is a radical act. It gives them the ability to work on the Web and with the Web, to have their scholarship be meaningful and accessible by others. It allows them to demonstrate their learning to others beyond the classroom walls. To own one’s domain gives students an understanding of how Web technologies work. It puts them in a much better position to control their work, their data, their identity online.
Knowing how the web works seems to me to be foundational to being able to interact with discernment and wisdom on the web. And to quote Papert again
The scandal of education is that every time you teach something, you deprive a [student] of the pleasure and benefit of discovery.
You could also say that every time we make a decision that affects students, we remove an opportunity for students to learn. If we say that all students’ work must be protected by a login because some students’ work might put them at risk deprives the majority of students of the ‘pleasure and benefit of discovery’. It deprives them of the pleasure and benefit of exercising agency over ‘their work, their data, their identity online’. It also deprives the vulnerable students of honing their skills in protecting themselves online, which may be even more important than protecting those who are not vulnerable.
In advocating for open practices, it is critical that we are inviting participation, not mandating specific requirements and practices. By inviting participation, we are respecting each individual’s right to either participate in the open or not. We invite them to participate on their terms, not ours. It means that we design our platforms and learning environments to include as many as possible, and not exclude.
It means we need to do things differently.
opening education by Colin Madland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
The more I dig into Gitbook and Github as a platform for online course design and delivery, the more I think that it is going to be a great way to reduce the hassle of typical course design projects that rely on MS Word files emailed back and forth and to and fro.
What i discovered this week is that, in order to sync a Gitbook project with Github, it works best to initiate the project with a README.md in Github first, then connect Gitbook.
In another universe, I would have found this out the hard way because I had a project initiated in Gitbook that I connected to an essentially empty repository in Github. I then found out that Github is considered the master and it overwrote my work in Gitbook.
That’s usually a bad thing.
This was kinda bad, but not horrible. It would have been a loss of a couple thousand words that could have been rewritten without too much trouble. But still.
Fortunately, and here is one of the advantages of Git…I was able to recover, because I had the history saved in Gitbook.
I realize that there are recovery tricks for MS documents and such, but it was so very easy with Git.
Another thing I’ve realized, just today, is that the connection between Gitbook and Github is such that Gitbook can essentially be used as a text-based authoring environment for a Github repository. Well, duh, you might say. That’s what Github is; a text-based authoring environment.
True, but Github has grown around the needs of people working with programming code, and for the uninitiated (read: everyone I will be working with to design courses), the Github interface is very different from what they are used to, and that is very intimidating.
Here is what a user encounters in Github.
For someone who is just used to working in Word, the language here might as well be Greek. ‘Pull requests’, ‘Branches’, ‘Commits’, ‘Forked’. And not only that, but what do they edit and how?
Let me be clear that this is not a criticism of Github for what it is designed for. Simply an observation, that, to the uninitiated, it is confusing.
Compare that with Gitbook.
This is the same level beyond the homepage and the first page a user sees after they select a project.
Obviously, its not the same as Word, so there will be some learning involved; it’s actually much simpler and cleaner than Word. It’s also simpler and cleaner than Github.
The file structure of the repository is hidden, and it is clear what the user needs to do to edit the file.
And once you get into the editor (two clicks from here in GH, one click in GB). Things are different again.
Github. How many learning designers would like to teach their SMEs to write in markdown?
Gitbook. WYSIWYG for the win! That toolbar is all you need, and none of the bloaty crap that’s in Word.
And here’s the kicker…you can have your SMEs compose in GB, which is designed for narrative text, and everything is backed up to GH, where you can serve out to Jekyll.
But…does that scale? (Seriously, does it? I need to know.)
opening education by Colin Madland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
There are numerous ways to get higher ed faculty riled up, and talking about plagiarism or intellectual property are two of them. And for good reason. Plagiarism is a significant problem in higher ed (although there are many faculty who can’t be bothered). It is important for students to present their own work as a demonstration of their own learning in the course. That’s a no-brainer.
And although ‘intellectual property’ is somewhat oxymoronic, it is an idea that animates many conversations, especially when one scholar uses the work of another scholar without appropriate credit. That sounds a lot like plagiarism, doesn’t it?
The trouble, as I see it, is that a popular solution to the problem of plagiarism (Turnitin, or other ‘plagiarism detection’ software) is a direct threat to the idea of intellectual property. Here is why.
When a faculty member requires a student to submit their assignments through Turnitin, they are compelling their students give their intellectual property (and personal information) to a third party for the sole financial benefit of the third party.
Turnitin’s business model and financial success is based entirely on the unpaid work of students who are compelled in one way or another to give their work to the company.
Imagine if researchers or authors were required by their employers to give their work to an external, for-profit business for the sole financial benefit of the business? But isn’t that what we do with publishers, you ask? Well, no. When an author gives their work to a publisher, they do so with an expectation of compensation, whether that be direct financial compensation or indirect compensation via tenure and promotion or other career boosts.
Turnitin does nothing of the sort. Students are required to turn over their data and their work for zero compensation, monetary or otherwise. That seems unjust to me. If we are going to insist on retaining the rights to our own work to be used as we intend, shouldn’t we do the same for our students?
I know that many faculty like to use Turnitin. I heard one justification today that now has me writing this post. The rationale?
It makes students fearful.
Yup. Here it is again: ‘It makes students fearful’. This was given as a good reason to use turnitin.
How can a student possibly do their best work if they are afraid that what they say might be flagged by an unintelligent algorithm as plagiarism?
If instilling fear is actually a good way to motivate students, why don’t we do more of it?
Imagine an analogous scenario where we used fear to motivate students to dress ‘appropriately’. Everyone on the staff and faculty know that ‘appropriate dress’ means that you don’t copy anyone else’s wardrobe. We publish policies like
- Students who violate the dress code will be expelled.
- Students are responsible for knowing the rules of the dress code.
- The dress code will be monitored by a for-profit company contracted by the university to place video cameras throughout the campus and analyze the video using an algorithm.
- This company reserves the right to share video of our students with other companies for their own profit.
- We don’t tell students what the dress code actually is.
- We don’t talk about different cultural expectations regarding appropriate attire.
- We don’t tell students that the algorithm is wrong more than 30% of the time. Sometimes it will flag students who are dressed properly (false positive), and sometimes it will not flag a student who is not dressed properly (false negative).
- We design our campus (somehow) to encourage a very narrow selection of garments.
We would almost certainly consider this system to be grossly unfair to students, who would be constantly under suspicion, whose daily living patterns would be recorded and analyzed, and who wouldn’t know from one day to the next if they would be expelled or not.
Would the fear of being caught wearing the wrong thing and being expelled be real? Of course. Would it be helpful? Not even maybe.
It wouldn’t be helpful because students would be powerless to do anything to avoid being caught copying someone else’s clothing, and those in power have set them up for failure by designing an environment that encourages students to wear similar clothing.
This is very similar to what we do in trying to deal with plagiarism.
- We tell students that they can be expelled if they violate the rules.
- We tell students that they are responsible for knowing what plagiarism is.
- We think it is ok to hire a private for-profit company to surveil all of our students and run their data through an algorithm.
- We tell the company that they can use our students’ work and personal data for their own financial gain.
- We don’t really teach them enough about what plagiarism is or how to avoid it.
- We don’t consider different cultural expectations.
- We don’t tell students that the algorithm in turnitin is wrong at least 30% of the time, indicating both false positives and false negatives
- And we design our courses and assignments to ensure that plagiarism is more likely to occur.
Clearly, we could do a lot to reduce the amount of plagiarism in our courses if we would simply start doing more of the things on the list of things we aren’t doing. We need to have open and honest conversations with our students about what constitutes plagiarism and how they can avoid it. We need to consider in those conversations the fact that different cultures view the teacher/student relationship very differently from how we do and that those different views have radical effects on how some cultures view plagiarism. Finally, we need to design our courses and assessments to reduce the likelihood of plagiarism.
Another way to think about Turnitin is to consider the message that it sends to students. When we require every single student to submit their work through turnitin, we are telling every single honest hardworking student that we do not trust them. This is just as bad as using fear as a motivator. Why would we intentionally set up a confrontational relationship between ourselves and our students when we know that learning is fundamentally a social process. Why do we presume guilt and require the accused to prove their innocence?
One situation that I have heard several times is that Turnitin is most useful for catching students using each other’s work for the same class. I don’t think that this is an argument that faculty should be using because it seems to betray a lack of engagement with what our students are writing. Either that, or that we are still using the same assignments for our courses that we have used for however many times we have taught the course. Either way, it is one poor excuse among many for giving our students’ work and data away.
If you’d like to read a little more about why you should ditch turnitin, click here.
As I look into the ether of what is to come in my professional life, it is hard to not feel a little giddy at the opportunity that I have. It will, however, be too easy to get distracted by what could be done, but with little impact, over what should be done to build a truly transformative learning environment and experience.
My colleague and friend, Marie (who just completed her MA in Boss-iness….er…leadership) talks about the dangers of ‘Management by Shiny Things’. She has seen good and capable leaders get sidetracked by trying to keep up with the latest tech bling, with little discernible impact on student learning. That isn’t to say that tech bling never impacts student learning for the better, just that its deployment matters.
So, what will I do to avoid MbST?
It’s the Network, silly…
One way to avoid clickyclickyblingbling is to focus relentlessly on the people who will ground this initiative. Initially, that network will be those who I know and from whom I can learn and seek advice. Over time, that will change with the addition of people on campus at Trinity (current students, faculty, and staff) who will need to help me contextualize my plans and visions. Then, as the initiative starts to gain traction, I will need to build a team of people to work their own magic, whether that is wrangling the web ferrets, working with faculty to design learning experiences, or supporting students. These people will also add their own experience and network to the mix. If I don’t get this right, this goes down with little more than a puff of smoke.
Assessment of/for Learning
I know of a web-based system that is designed to mimic as closely as possible a paper form. I won’t get all judgy here, because the system (mostly) works. But there are some artifacts from the paper system that are absurd in the web system. The point is that using digital learning technologies to prop analog practices (some of which are grossly ineffective anyways) leads to absurdities.
One of those practices is assessment. Too often, students are graded (I didn’t say ‘assessed’) on ‘one and done’ disposable assignments. If you’ve been to school, you will recognize the ubiquity of disposable assignments. These are assignments that are imposed upon students, they are likely related to the content of the course, but they are not necessarily meaningfully aligned to any learning outcomes. They are written or created for an audience of one person who has graded thousands of the same assignments. They are given a letter grade and sometimes some comments, returned to the student and either filed in a binder to be forgotten, or they are tossed in the bin.
And that is why I call them ‘one and done’. They are written for one person to read and graded, and then both the teacher and the learner are done. A letter grade is too often a final judgement. It’s the end of the conversation, not the beginning.
Another significant problem with one and done assignments is that their use encourages plagiarism. If a faculty member uses the same assignments year after year, it will not take long for responses to the assignment to be readily available either online or from past students.And we know that when students are stressed (before a deadline) and it is easy to access a shortcut, that shortcut is very difficult to ignore.
There is a better way.
Renewable assignments are those which rely on OER as well as students doing meaningful, scholarly work, often on the open web. Think about it.The purpose of higher education is to generate and disseminate knowledge. If students are doing their work as a contribution to knowledge in the area, it can’t be a one and done assignment. How is the purpose of a university served by having student write yet another descriptive essay or other disposable assignment that will be binned? How much more is it served when students are working on the open web, contributing to the field, and doing it on a domain that they own and control?
Alan wrote yesterday about the fact that simply owning a domain doesn’t guarantee engagement and persistence. Only 6 (or maybe 7, or maybe 8) of his 81 former DS106 students at UMW are currently active on blogs hosted on their own domains. Initially that seems like a small number, but it is 6-8 more students who have a voice on the web than if DS106 were locked away in an lms. And since Alan’s students were involved in a pilot initiative, there were bound to be difficulties. In the last three years or so, we (by that, I mean Reclaim Hosting, and SPLOTs and the EdTech Collaborative and others) have progressed so that we are much better at deploying and supporting students and faculty as they venture into the world of creating on the web.
Creating on the web.
That is, in my mind, what I’m at TWU to accomplish. To build confidence and capacity for students and faculty to learn by and through creating on the web.
What if you had the opportunity to build an online learning department focussed around graduate programs, and you were starting from scratch? No legacy LMS. No staff. No vendor agreements.
What you do have is a mandate from all levels of senior administration, from the board, president, provost, deans all the way down the line. You have strong support from the library and the teaching and learning centre. There are some faculty and departments who have been offering online courses, mostly off the side of their desks. Faculty are engaged, but unfamiliar with either online or open learning.
Where do you start?
I’d love to hear what your approach would be, and what you would prioritize. I certainly have some thoughts bouncing around in my mind, but I know that there are a whole bunch of people out there on the interwebs who might think differently.
Feel free to leave a comment here, link to a video, link to your own post…whatever suits your fancy.
I have, along with my wife and kids, made the rather significant decision to resign from my position as edtech coordinator at TRU, and accept a position as director of TWU Online at Trinity Western University.
It’s one of those positions that doesn’t come along very often at all, represents a meaningful professional challenge, and will allow me to extend and expand on the work I’ve been involved with at TRU.
I think it’s relevant to note that I wasn’t looking to leave TRU. There are some extremely talented and passionate people there who are doing amazing work with shrinking resources. I’m sad to leave.
TWU represents a huge opportunity. They don’t really have a coherent online strategy other than a few faculty and departments offering ‘online’ courses off the side of their desks. If you follow the most obvious links from the main page of the site, you will find a list of courses with links to year-old syllabi repurposed for online by adding required online discussions.
Suffice it to say that the task before me is huge, but I’m excited. The potential is huge. Since TWU doesn’t have a history in online learning, they don’t have any ties to software systems or vendors. No Blackboard. No Brightspace. Just an old, rickety version of Moodle (1.9).
So, it is my sincere hope that I’ll be able to leapfrog the last couple decades of increasingly bloated LMSs and build an open infrastructure, with open tools to allow open pedagogies and an open invitation to participate in a vibrant learning community.
For the last hour of our scheduled time at the OLFM workshop a couple weekends ago, @vpeachey and I facilitated what we called a Conversation Café.
We had loosely divided attendees into 5 largish groups of about 20 by putting coloured stickers on their conference nametags. They were instructed to consult their conference package for a list of five questions that had each been assigned to one of the groups. Then, throughout the conference, they were on their own to gather with any number of people in their colour to chat about the question and identify some related ideas. Then, at the end of the day on Saturday, we gathered together in the Theatre, broke into the coloured groups and recorded some ideas on flip-chart paper. Finally, we asked each group to prioritize their top three reponses to share with the larger group.
Here are the questions we asked, along with the notes from each group (HT to @mddyck for the questions):
PINK Group: In your opinion, what are three of the most important, ongoing concerns about ethics within increasingly digital forms of knowledge dissemination?
BLUE Group: As we increasingly rely on algorithms and computerized data analysis, what do we think about the role of this analysis in learning? Can it accurately replicate human analysis? Also, who is perhaps watching our students as they learn?
RED Group: What will the world be like for our learners 10 or 15 years from now? What trends do you see in the evolution of online education?
ORANGE Group: As technology becomes more capable of simulating reality, what concerns or issues do you see arising for learners or educators?
GREEN Group: The internet has allowed online education to blossom in recent years – how can we can all encourage students to consider TRU-OL as their primary choice in this increasingly competitive world?
As a further step in processing these questions, I’ve asked some people both inside and outside OL to comment on the questions and/or the responses that were gathered at the conference. Their responses are/will be below in various formats.
Each year, the program delivery department at TRU Open Learning hosts a workshop, although it’s become more of a conference than a workshop, for our Open Learning Faculty Members (OLFMs), who are typically spread throughout the province.
Last weekend (May 13-14) was the seventh workshop that I’ve attended and the sixth which I have planned along with my colleague Marie, who does the hard work of managing all the logistics. I typically get to do the fun stuff like organize the program, recruit speakers and such.
Each year, as our number of OLFMs has grown (from just over 150 in 2010, to almost 250 now), the workshop has grown as well. If I recall correctly, we hosted about 80 in 2010 and 150 this year.
We have worked quite intentionally to keep changing formats, options, and both plenary and breakout presentations in the hope of keeping from getting stale and complacent.
This year, our keynote speaker was Donald Clark who shared his views on emerging technologies like virtual reality and current technologies like artificial intelligence. Clark was an engaging and dynamic speaker and had an Oculus Rift headset with him which he offered for people to try out.
Several people took him up and it was interesting to see the diversity of reactions.
Among the claimed benefits of VR technology is that it is completely immersive, and therefore better at engaging students in ‘authentic’ environments. Well, when I tried it, I was distinctly underwhelmed. The graphics being fed through the headset reminded me of early 8-bit video games, and while it was neato to be able to look around and have the display respond to my movements, I was not the least bit compelled to believe that I was actually riding an amusement park ride.
So does my 3 minute experience mean that VR is useless for education? Clearly not, but it does suggest that it will not be any sort of revolutionary panacea.
What did get me excited were the breakout sessions. There were a number of encouraging signs that this event was gaining traction as a valuable place for our OLFMs to share. First is that there were more OLFMs and OL staff involved in giving presentations on topics that they proposed. In my mind, this is the essence of what an event like this should be.
TRU-OL has the distinct advantage of drawing faculty from all across the province and they often work f2f in their local institutions and pick up a course or two from OL. This means that we have a built-in diversity of ideas, opinions, and perspectives that provides a rich environment for sharing experiences and de-siloing higher ed. Our greatest asset will always be our people, and OL has some great people!
Another highlight for me was listening to @brlamb talk about his recent work with the BC Open Ed Tech Cooperative. I am really excited about the stuff they are working on and encourage you to have a look and get involved.
Finally, I was thrilled to be able to include a student panel discussion titled ‘Mindset Makes a Difference’. I have wanted to do this for a long time, but it has been difficult to wrangle local students in the middle of May. This is where Elizabeth Templeman, Coordinator for Supplemental Learning at TRU stepped in and recruited her student leaders, who had previously presented at the campus Teaching Practices Colloquium in February.
All told, it was another great weekend of reconnecting and sharing across and within disciplines.
If you’d like to dig in a little more, you can find the schedule here.
I had the privilege of attending and presenting at the Open Education Consortium’s Open Education Global Conference in Kraków, Poland, which ran April 12-14/16.
My presentation was built on the results of my survey of TRU faculty, admin, students and instructional designers, exploring their experiences with and perceptions of the use of open textbooks (OTB) in TRU and TRU-OL courses. The survey itself was slightly modified from the survey used by BCcampus in 2015 and an ongoing survey sponsored by the OERHub at the UKOU.
As is typical for conferences, it was great to catch up with old friends (@johnhiltoniii, @millerjamison, @beckpitt, @philosopher1978, @jennihayman) and to meet new ones (@jesshmitchell, @nat_kitkat, @nkbe1, @celTatis, @unatdaly) to name a few.
Having never been to Europe, this was a great opportunity, and I was fortunate that my wife was able to tag along. Kraków is a beautiful city, and we had a bit of time on either end of the conference to tour about, and even tour the nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site at Auschwitz/Birkenau. That is a post itself, so I won’t comment here.
There are two big ideas that stand out in my mind that I will be considering in the next little while.
OER in ‘Other’ Languages
The word ‘other’ isn’t intended to imply that there is ‘English’ and ‘other languages’, but that the language in which a particular OER is authored automatically limits how broadly it can be used. Currently, there is a huge emphasis in North America on authoring OER and OTB, so there is a huge amount of material available in English.
It is typically assumed that anyone is free to translate OER, but in practice, that is often difficult without significant funding. If an individual faculty member wants to use a resource in another language, they are SOL if they aren’t already fluent in that language.
For those of us in English speaking countries, I wonder how you might be able to use the open resources made available through the host university of OEGlobal? They are free to use at http://open.agh.edu.pl/index.php.
Perhaps there is an argument to be made that English is becoming the lingua franca of OER, given that it is becoming more widely spoken, but that really smells a little too much like educational colonialism to me.
As with any presentation in a conference, there is never enough time to delve deeply into a problem, topic, or solution, so I’m chalking this one up to ‘something to consider in the weeks to come’. Perhaps I’ll learn something as I wander the web and have something to contribute.
It is great when a presentation aligns with a line in your job description, and even better when the presenter is as engaging and likeable as Jess Mitchell (@jesshmitchell). Jess explained that:
Inclusive design is design that is inclusive of the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age and other forms of human difference.
Designing inclusively makes better experiences for everyone. [Source]
3 takeaways from Jess’ presentation are:
- Disability is a mismatch between the needs and goals of the individual, and the learning experience being offered. This means that disabilities are not fixed, they are relative to the person in a particular situation, and, consequently, we all experience disability in one sense or another.
- We can design our learning environments so that ‘one size fits one’, as opposed to ‘one size fits all’. Educators are awfully enamoured with averages, but when we design learning environments and experiences for ‘the average student’, we are chasing unicorns and rainbows. By designing experiences that can be adapted by the student and according to their needs, we promote inclusion over exclusion. For more on this idea, see this article by Todd Rose.
- Design decisions, even great ones, can exclude, so we should respond by designing for the edge cases and iterate towards inclusion.
One of the projects that Jess shared with us was the Infusion Framework, which you can see for yourself at http://fluidproject.org/infusion.html.
Notice the top, right side of that site has a little tab that says ‘show display preferences’.
When you click on that tab, you are given various options to change how that webpage is displayed.
Providing these options for users in our learning environments is a good first step to allowing ‘one size fits one’ design.
You can find Jess’ slides on slideshare and embedded below.