When designing high-quality online courses, it is important that we pause and reflect on how our courses are meeting the needs of all students. The diversity reflected in our student cohorts combines diverse backgrounds, cultures, experiences and disabilities. When we design our courses and then revisit, we must check for accessibility compliance.
In this module, we will explore how to leverage our legal and personal goals regarding accessibility, our need to respect diversity and embrace inclusivity, and the need to truly design for all. We will also explore the guiding principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and how they can provide further insights into inclusion. Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) tips, tools and takeaways bring recognition about assumptions, emphasize empathy and allow all participants to be their whole selves in your course. Making open and safe communication a priority in your course can aid in engagement and cultivate connections.
We will learn to keep UDL and EDI in mind as we build new courses as well as incorporating them into existing courses.
The resources and learning activities included here intend to support the following learning outcomes:
- Describe the three principles of UDL.
- Explain how the UDL guidelines and corresponding “checkpoints” can impact teaching and learning.
- Suggest Multiple Means of Representation, Multiple Means of Engagement and Multiple Means of Action and Expression alternatives for a specific course.
- Evaluate courses according to Universal Design for Learning principles.
- Identify tools to evaluate course materials for accessibility.
- Incorporate course design strategies that meet AODA standards to facilitate accessibility.
- Identify resources and tools for teachers and students that support accessibility, diversity, inclusion and UDL.
As you read through this module, consider your own course and learning content, and reflect on these questions:
- Does your course consider the human-centred approach to communication, as well as behaviours that promote inclusivity and engagement?
- Is there an opportunity in your class to discuss valuing all cultures, religions, ages, genders, beliefs, expressions and skills in a safe environment to promote understanding?
- Have you taken a moment to self reflect and analyze, recognize and become conscious of your own unconscious bias?
- Is your course reflecting diversity and the principles of UDL and EDI in your content, lessons, and references.
- How do you plan on building respectful relationships with your students?
- How have you built a respectful relationship within the course to create a safe space for the student/learners?
- Have you structured your content in an accessible and “bite size” format?
- Is your content structured in a logical order with visual print accessibility guidelines in mind?
- Do your tasks, assignments and projects incorporate Multiple Means of Action and Expression that provide an opportunity to demonstrate competency of learning from a diverse lens?
- Todd Rose “Myth of Average” video and questions
- Summary and application of UDL principles to your course
- UDL Guidelines Educator Worksheet
- “Plus One” application of UDL principles to your course
- Incorporating diversity, seeing students as individuals and choosing inclusive content for your course.
- Developing connections to learners while overcoming unconscious biases
- Using games and tools of engagement to create a safe space for open communication
- Applying design principles to your written and visual communication to meet accessibility standards.
Key Terms and Concepts
- Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
- Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)
- Multiple Means of Representation (MMR)
- Multiple Means of Engagement (MME)
- Multiple Means of Action and Expression (MMA)
- Authentic, formative and summative assessments
- Plus One
- Race, faith and intersecting identities
- Flexibility in the classroom
- Divergent thinking
- Equity and inclusion
- Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) standards and compliance
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
- Accessible visual design techniques