Sunday, 29 April 2012

Activity 4 - Access & Equity, Diversity & Inclusivity

Right... it's been a while, but here we go...

In fact, I'm at home, making the most of the flexible learning environment that Poly offers, taking the day to do some home-based flexible learning, so as to not get side-tracked by the 4 million other things on the urgent list. :-)
Tasked with defining and describing "the concepts of Access & Equity, Diversity & Inclusivity in your (my) professional context," I have pulled together some ideas from the suggested resources.
So roughly, something along the lines of (not really my own words, but the ones I liked from the readings:

  • "access, equity, diversity and inclusivity would mean providing more ways to access, to participate and to demonstrate learning that results in a more equitable level of access to the general education curriculum for all learners."
Maybe in shorter version (more my own...):

  • "providing equal chance to learn for all learners," or 
  • "learning is not OSFA - we need many styles and sizes of [learning] jeans."

I loved the PowerPoint on universal design - and I especially loved that the first quote was from an architect ("Consider the needs of the broadest possible range of uses from the beginning" Ron Mace) because the rules that make the world go round are seldom stand along, but apply to very many very different contexts. And the retrofitting analogy is great too - this, I think, is one of the great fears that many of us may hold. If we embrace this idea of flexible learning, then we are going to be required to retro-fit all our delivery (this means MASSIVE work load), but I think from looking through this PP that the better way is to start from scratch, dedicate resources, (human included) and not attempt it in a half-baked manner.
However - I still wonder that being able to roll out UDL and doing it really really well, would be an awful lot of work and that there isn't the time nor the resources to do this currently. I guess the solution is changing the current MO to allow for multiple means of representation, action and expression and engagement.

So UDL - see above. This is about considering all the needs of learners before starting and providing a learning environment that can support these. This includes thinking about the academic achievement gap, religion, culture, upbringing, beliefs, disability etc etc.
I also liked the slide share that contained information from Laureate's (2009) work:
"Brain functioning depends on what is being learned and the learner's current level of expertise with the topic."
He then breaks the brain into 3 main centres (in my words):

  • the old brain (recognises what it already knows), 
  • the new brain (organises information; conscious muscle control), 
  • the emotional brain (decides what is important, therefore engaging).
This really resonated with me as the ability to engage, as he sees it, is due to there being an emotional engagement... and this is turn is affected by the other two parts. So if the history of responses to learning has been one of trauma and disengagement,stress and failure, then there's not much chance that the emotional brain will do anything other than generate disengagement (old,"safe," recognised patterns of behaviour).
So part of UDL, has to be recognising the "stuff" that people already come with (thinking my 45 year olds that don't like computers) and finding a way to make our teaching accessible to them, thus enhancing engagement. And of course, once it becomes fun (!!!) then the pathways for learning from old brain/new brain and emotional brain are set up to encourage further engagement for this learner.

So, to this end, I buddied up my "oldie" with a youngie (who happens to have a qualification in computing studies), and also got her on to the IT help desk. I suggested writing notes in pen first, if this helped, downloading (I helped) assessment documents and printed them for hard copy (then transferred information back to the electronic doc)... So I guess it is about bridging the gap - this wasn't about AVOIDING the technology, but finding a way to get her to engage with it initially, and increase comfort, enjoyment and success.

What my learners need: the three A's (which they were told at the start of the year, and constantly since!!)

  • attitude - the right one!
  • attendance - the glean all the useful bits I have to say that aren't in the notes.
  • attentiveness - no good being in class and not present.

Despite rolling out a pretty flexible learning programme, I realise there is still a lot we can do to make this better - time and HR not-withstanding!



1 comment:

  1. I have learned a new saying recently: "Have you got your listening ears on?" This term is used in the Playball activities that a friend is running. It is good for everyone, not just children don't you reckon?

    yes the matching up of a more skilled person with a less skilled person is a good one. How did this impact on the IT skilled person's learning though? I did this years ago with a student in his 70s who was short-sighted and deaf - the younger student looked pretty frazzled by the end of the day so I guess the trick is not to over tax peer support, and perhaps try to make it more equal. "The blind leading the blind" is not optimal even so.

    What other areas are there where you find peer support is helpful?