Small Steps to Make Your Class a More Accessible Experience

Have you wanted make your class more accessible and inclusive, but you just didn’t know where to start? Maybe you know you should add accessibility into your course, but it feels like you don’t have enough time to redesign the whole course. 

Accessibility improves the learning experience for all learners. Not every student discloses their needs (whether physical or cognitive, permanent or situational), so it’s important to take a proactive approach to create an inclusive learning environment.

When you pick small, manageable elements to focus on, you can slowly infuse accessibility into your course each time it runs. With a few changes, you can start to make your course materials more accessible.

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eLearning Past, Present, and Future (2011-2021): A Conversation about Trends in eLearning, Instructional Design, and Online Learning

In May 2011, I graduated from high school. In June, before I started college, I walked into my first group interview. While I had never heard of eLearning or instructional design, I was still intrigued. Dave Goodrich, one of my high school science teachers, now worked at Spring Arbor University (SAU) as an instructional designer. He believed in my potential and said this student worker job could last throughout my undergraduate career if I wanted. 

I met Dave, Tara McCoy , and a couple others from what was formerly the Office of Academic Technology (OAT) outside a coffee shop. When I was hired on the spot, I had no idea what I was getting into or how this field and career would help me as a student and as a professor. 

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The Brains Behind Assessment

In the current day and age of learning, we find a lot of variability in how we develop and provide learning environments. Many individuals have had to rethink their teaching and learning atmospheres to accommodate societal changes. In all of those alterations, the need for assessment is one of the primary components of any learning environment that needs to be addressed. But with the consistency found in needing assessment, we still need to think through what activities and evaluations fit best with the curriculum, learners, and modality. So how do we make that decision?

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Just-in-Time Resources for Faculty

In 2020, the need for ongoing support became even more apparent as educators struggled with the uncertainties from the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent post about the importance of supporting faculty and adjuncts through ongoing training, Ann describes how “Providing more opportunities for faculty training and development is one of the first steps we must take in order to empower faculty to make the mission of higher education a reality.” 

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New Year, New Start: The Importance of Faculty Training

When the calendar turned to January 1, 2021, many experienced a collective sigh of relief. A new year brings expectancy, excitement, hope, and the promise of a new beginning. While 2020 was a challenging, uncertain, and crazy year, we learned so much through it in many aspects of life, including in the fields of Education, eLearning, and Instructional Design.

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Campus Collaborations: eLearning and the White Library

When Michigan went into a sudden lockdown due to COVID-19 during the Spring 20 semester, our university shifted personnel around to meet the needs caused by moving to remote learning and work. Our team gained additional staff to support the influx of requests, including dedicated help from the White Library. With the stronger ties between us, we’ve able to work together to creatively address these needs.

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Transformational Leadership During COVID-19

I feel like I have been in a state of Flow for the last 25 years. It seems like yesterday when back in 1995 four of us sat around a table discussing how the only way we could get our new Masters in Educational Technology to the teachers who really needed it was to put it on the newly available World Wide Web.

“Tectonic shifts” in society happen when an unexpected event creates widespread innovative experimentation around a new idea. (V Govindarajan & A Srivastava, 2020).

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Limited by Modality

Many conversations addressing education lately have returned to the way various designers, instructors, learners, and stakeholders define a particular modality and its effectiveness. Some individuals focus on a modality’s apparent constraints instead of its affordances as an excuse to do less or remain stagnant, while others view the very same limitations in addition to the modalities strengths as a way to explore more options for how to reach learning goals in a new way. 

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Preparing for Fall 2020: Reimagining Higher Education

I am currently in a summer book study with fellow faculty discussing Teaching and Christian Imagination by David Smith and Susan M. Felch. Through my personal reading as well as group discussions, I’ve realized we need a significant reimagining in the way faculty and instructional designers view teaching and curriculum design in higher education.

Instead of providing a cookie-cutter process of how to teach and design curriculum, Smith and Felch invite readers to reimagine higher education through three metaphors: a pilgrimage, a garden, and a cathedral. In the wake of the many changes and uncertainties of COVID-19, I want to invite you to reimagine higher education through sharing some of the things I am learning from these metaphors and encourage you to begin taking steps toward making your reimagining a reality.

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Remote Learning: A New Journey

In the time of Covid-19, we’ve been thrust into The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth. We have to battle villainous foes, make courageous choices, and strike a blow against the evil that threatens the land. This is the best way I know to describe the feeling as we find ourselves in with little to no advanced warning—forced by circumstance to teach all courses online. 

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