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Social Media and the Widening of
Accessibility in Higher Ed: Exploring
social media use and UDL
Friday December 18th, 2015
Frederic Fovet.
#SocMedHE15
Personal intro
Frederic Fovet
• Consultant in UDL and Inclusion
• 2011-2015: Director of the Office for Students with Disabilities at McGill
University
• PhD Candidate in Education at La Trobe University.
• Lecturer in Education at University of Prince Edward Island
• Skype: frederic.fovet1
• implementudl@gmail.com
• @Ffovet
• Blog: https://implementudl.wordpress.com/
• www.implementudl.com
Objectives
There is a tension from the onset between (i) perceived fear that
social media create accessibility issues in HE and (ii) reality on the
ground where social media add flexibility and seem to widen
access.
Objectives of the session are:
• Examine social media within the lens of Universal Design for
Learning
• Determine if there is a place for social media within UDL
implementation
• Consider the wider implications for the future of teaching and
learning in HE
Context – What is UDL?
Why select the UDL lens?
• UDL has recently increasingly been the framework of choice in North America when
examining access in HE.
Why this shift in HE?
• Accommodations/retrofitting based models seem obsolete and no longer address
the needs of diverse learners on campuses (resources/ philosophical
perspective/sustainability).
How is UDL different?
• UDL translates the social model into daily teaching practices and shifts campuses
away from the medical model.
• Instead of focusing on the impairments of students, it encourages us to examine our
campus practices to see how we can remove barriers and widen access.
How do we define UDL?
How should one define it in HE?
• It is a sustainable, environment-focused framework for the
management of access. Applies to the classroom but also applies
to services, employment: it is a campus wide lens.
Where does it originate?
• It is an architectural current originally. Universal Design advocates
in the 70s questioned the field of architecture’s over-focus on
aesthetics. They demanded a shift back to UX.
• UDL is the same approach transferred to learning (CAST).
The three UDL principles
Source: National Center for UDL
Methodological reflection
• My office at McGill began a drive for systemic UDL implementation in
2011.
• As the drive began we collected qualitative data from all parties
involved in the momentum: Administrators, Service Providers,
Instructors, Students.
• Allowed us to document shifts in the implementation drive, feedback,
contributions, etc. And to document the process by analyzing the
qualitative data collected through ecological theoretical lens.
• Many of my offerings today synthetize this work over a 4 year period.
• It weaves elements from different papers already published.
Multiple means of representation
• It is the way we provide information to others (in this case, students)
• Much of HE teaching still focused on the note taking skill.
• Note taking services is the most costly, time consuming and non-sustainable form of
retrofitting on most campuses
• This creates huge barriers for a variety of students.
• How can we operate a shift and center teaching on pedagogy, not note taking?
• Flipping the classroom has triggeredd deep thoughts on this.
• Instructors are very reluctant to let go.
• Offering multiple means of representation through social media increases access
because a large proportion of ‘non traditional’ student arrive on our campuses with
their own working strategies. Allowing them to continue using these strategies is the
key to success and social media are often central to these strategies.
Multiple means of action and expression
This is focused on the way we expect others to provide us with information (student
comments, questions, active production, evaluation)
• This is where we observed social media being more quickly and spontaneously
integrated.
• Twitter use in class for example, Facebook pages, digital portfolios, etc.
• Often this is a field where instructors feel confident: they have explored, mastered,
integrated and are now being creative.
• When instructors venture onto this UDL principle with social media in hand, they
comment immediately about how their perception of their students is radically
altered. They realize how unidimensional and biased the traditional lecture hall
format is.
• Interestingly this is the principle that includes evaluation. Few instructors have yet
ventured into social media for evaluation purposes.
Multiple means of engagement
• This principles encourages reflection on the roles we allow others to take (in HE: the
roles we are allowing our students to adopt and explore)
• Huge impact here for the inclusion of neuro-diversity on campuses.
• Social media allows an engagement beyond the physical class and is highly congenial
for an increasing number of learners who wish to complete their degrees but lack
‘fit’ with traditional campus practices: being physically present, taking notes, reliance
on print, willingness to interact live, etc…
• The essential question which always comes to the surface when discussing access is
‘What is engagement?’
• Perhaps one on the most fundamental pedagogical questions of the 21st century for
HE. Access advocates and social media explorers see eye to eye.
Findings - Synthesis
• Social media create few accessibility issues in Higher Ed.
• Most social media products are ADA approved and therefore far more accessible
than traditional HE modes of interactions (print, face to face, taking notes,
handwriting)
• The social media industry is vigorously UX focused. If HE campuses were to the
same extent, what revolution in teaching and learning might we be witnessing?
• Integrating social media into teaching widens access by offering students a flexibility
in learning styles they have never experienced before.
• It has huge repercussions for access for the inclusion of neuro-diversity (students
who may have attention issues, mental health issues, etc.)
• It does bring to the surface an important debate on what engagement with learning
is. It is not always a questions lecturers are comfortable with.
Repercussions for HE teaching and
learning
• Social media integration is no easy process. It is a management of change
issue, not a social media issue.
• It faces many of the same hurdles as UDL implementation.
• The best way to examine the UDL implementation process across a campus is
the ecological analysis.
• There are facilitators and stressors. The variables in both categories are
numerous.
• As a campus gets to identify these, it becomes equipped to ‘address’ social
media integration/ UDL implementation adequately by focusing on facilitators
and reducing stressors.
• Some of the largest ‘stressors’ are myth: ‘students won’t come to’, ‘students
will be on FB’, ‘it distracts students and performance falls’, ‘there are privacy
issues for me’
FAQs
What are lecturer’s reactions to the push for UDL?
• As mentioned, campuses are ecological environments. Instructors are part of these conflicting
systems and they are affected by them in different ways. This creates buy-in or push back. It is
the sum total of many factors which we must come to examine and understand.
Don’t students prefer retrofitting and using an accessibility office?
• No, the desire for inclusive classrooms is strong and eloquent.
Don’t we lower academic standards?
• It’s about access not standards. You can retain assessment objectives and simply widen access
(as long as your teaching and evaluation objectives are clear)
What about inequities in access to technology? They are not all digital natives!
• UDL is about providing flexibility and allowing students to choose what works best for them.
Won’t this will create more issues for me to manage as a lecturer?
• In my 4 years working on a campus wide UDL implementation drive, I have only observed
instructors reporting significantly less issues with students, never more.
Resources
• UDL on campus (CAST site for HE):
http://udloncampus.cast.org/home#.VnJMU3LMvIU
• The Centre for Universal Design
http://www.washington.edu/doit/programs/center-universal-
design-education/overview
• McGill UDL video (created by students for Senate):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjUKGBipJZA
Contact details
• Skype: frederic.fovet1
• implementudl@gmail.com
• @Ffovet
• Blog: https://implementudl.wordpress.com/
#SocMedHE15

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Social media and the widening of accessibility in HE

  • 1. Social Media and the Widening of Accessibility in Higher Ed: Exploring social media use and UDL Friday December 18th, 2015 Frederic Fovet. #SocMedHE15
  • 2. Personal intro Frederic Fovet • Consultant in UDL and Inclusion • 2011-2015: Director of the Office for Students with Disabilities at McGill University • PhD Candidate in Education at La Trobe University. • Lecturer in Education at University of Prince Edward Island • Skype: frederic.fovet1 • implementudl@gmail.com • @Ffovet • Blog: https://implementudl.wordpress.com/ • www.implementudl.com
  • 3. Objectives There is a tension from the onset between (i) perceived fear that social media create accessibility issues in HE and (ii) reality on the ground where social media add flexibility and seem to widen access. Objectives of the session are: • Examine social media within the lens of Universal Design for Learning • Determine if there is a place for social media within UDL implementation • Consider the wider implications for the future of teaching and learning in HE
  • 4. Context – What is UDL? Why select the UDL lens? • UDL has recently increasingly been the framework of choice in North America when examining access in HE. Why this shift in HE? • Accommodations/retrofitting based models seem obsolete and no longer address the needs of diverse learners on campuses (resources/ philosophical perspective/sustainability). How is UDL different? • UDL translates the social model into daily teaching practices and shifts campuses away from the medical model. • Instead of focusing on the impairments of students, it encourages us to examine our campus practices to see how we can remove barriers and widen access.
  • 5. How do we define UDL? How should one define it in HE? • It is a sustainable, environment-focused framework for the management of access. Applies to the classroom but also applies to services, employment: it is a campus wide lens. Where does it originate? • It is an architectural current originally. Universal Design advocates in the 70s questioned the field of architecture’s over-focus on aesthetics. They demanded a shift back to UX. • UDL is the same approach transferred to learning (CAST).
  • 6. The three UDL principles Source: National Center for UDL
  • 7. Methodological reflection • My office at McGill began a drive for systemic UDL implementation in 2011. • As the drive began we collected qualitative data from all parties involved in the momentum: Administrators, Service Providers, Instructors, Students. • Allowed us to document shifts in the implementation drive, feedback, contributions, etc. And to document the process by analyzing the qualitative data collected through ecological theoretical lens. • Many of my offerings today synthetize this work over a 4 year period. • It weaves elements from different papers already published.
  • 8. Multiple means of representation • It is the way we provide information to others (in this case, students) • Much of HE teaching still focused on the note taking skill. • Note taking services is the most costly, time consuming and non-sustainable form of retrofitting on most campuses • This creates huge barriers for a variety of students. • How can we operate a shift and center teaching on pedagogy, not note taking? • Flipping the classroom has triggeredd deep thoughts on this. • Instructors are very reluctant to let go. • Offering multiple means of representation through social media increases access because a large proportion of ‘non traditional’ student arrive on our campuses with their own working strategies. Allowing them to continue using these strategies is the key to success and social media are often central to these strategies.
  • 9. Multiple means of action and expression This is focused on the way we expect others to provide us with information (student comments, questions, active production, evaluation) • This is where we observed social media being more quickly and spontaneously integrated. • Twitter use in class for example, Facebook pages, digital portfolios, etc. • Often this is a field where instructors feel confident: they have explored, mastered, integrated and are now being creative. • When instructors venture onto this UDL principle with social media in hand, they comment immediately about how their perception of their students is radically altered. They realize how unidimensional and biased the traditional lecture hall format is. • Interestingly this is the principle that includes evaluation. Few instructors have yet ventured into social media for evaluation purposes.
  • 10. Multiple means of engagement • This principles encourages reflection on the roles we allow others to take (in HE: the roles we are allowing our students to adopt and explore) • Huge impact here for the inclusion of neuro-diversity on campuses. • Social media allows an engagement beyond the physical class and is highly congenial for an increasing number of learners who wish to complete their degrees but lack ‘fit’ with traditional campus practices: being physically present, taking notes, reliance on print, willingness to interact live, etc… • The essential question which always comes to the surface when discussing access is ‘What is engagement?’ • Perhaps one on the most fundamental pedagogical questions of the 21st century for HE. Access advocates and social media explorers see eye to eye.
  • 11. Findings - Synthesis • Social media create few accessibility issues in Higher Ed. • Most social media products are ADA approved and therefore far more accessible than traditional HE modes of interactions (print, face to face, taking notes, handwriting) • The social media industry is vigorously UX focused. If HE campuses were to the same extent, what revolution in teaching and learning might we be witnessing? • Integrating social media into teaching widens access by offering students a flexibility in learning styles they have never experienced before. • It has huge repercussions for access for the inclusion of neuro-diversity (students who may have attention issues, mental health issues, etc.) • It does bring to the surface an important debate on what engagement with learning is. It is not always a questions lecturers are comfortable with.
  • 12. Repercussions for HE teaching and learning • Social media integration is no easy process. It is a management of change issue, not a social media issue. • It faces many of the same hurdles as UDL implementation. • The best way to examine the UDL implementation process across a campus is the ecological analysis. • There are facilitators and stressors. The variables in both categories are numerous. • As a campus gets to identify these, it becomes equipped to ‘address’ social media integration/ UDL implementation adequately by focusing on facilitators and reducing stressors. • Some of the largest ‘stressors’ are myth: ‘students won’t come to’, ‘students will be on FB’, ‘it distracts students and performance falls’, ‘there are privacy issues for me’
  • 13. FAQs What are lecturer’s reactions to the push for UDL? • As mentioned, campuses are ecological environments. Instructors are part of these conflicting systems and they are affected by them in different ways. This creates buy-in or push back. It is the sum total of many factors which we must come to examine and understand. Don’t students prefer retrofitting and using an accessibility office? • No, the desire for inclusive classrooms is strong and eloquent. Don’t we lower academic standards? • It’s about access not standards. You can retain assessment objectives and simply widen access (as long as your teaching and evaluation objectives are clear) What about inequities in access to technology? They are not all digital natives! • UDL is about providing flexibility and allowing students to choose what works best for them. Won’t this will create more issues for me to manage as a lecturer? • In my 4 years working on a campus wide UDL implementation drive, I have only observed instructors reporting significantly less issues with students, never more.
  • 14. Resources • UDL on campus (CAST site for HE): http://udloncampus.cast.org/home#.VnJMU3LMvIU • The Centre for Universal Design http://www.washington.edu/doit/programs/center-universal- design-education/overview • McGill UDL video (created by students for Senate): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjUKGBipJZA
  • 15. Contact details • Skype: frederic.fovet1 • implementudl@gmail.com • @Ffovet • Blog: https://implementudl.wordpress.com/ #SocMedHE15