Teaching With Technology: How Can I Include All Students

Wheelchair accessible stairs
Photo by Tom Magliery, www.flickr.com (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

On November 4th, Rachel Niemer and Theresa Braunschneider from CRLT provided the library with a lightly customized version of their “Teaching With Technology: How Can I Include All Students” workshop. The workshop explores “the intersection of technology and inclusive teaching” and discusses “the inadvertent assumptions about learners’ bodies and resources often implicit in assignments and classroom activities using technology.”

The beginning of the workshop included a couple of thought-provoking prompts, which quickly started conversations in the room. One of the prompts focused on how certain, basic technologies have been used for years (email systems, learning management systems, etc.) yet they prevent learners with disabilities from equal participation more than traditional paper-based solutions. Why is this the case? What can we, as teachers, do about it?

Rachel and Theresa led discussions on other related topics, such as determining differences among learners that might result in differential access to or ways of accessing technologies sometimes used in the classroom. The group had many ideas, including socioeconomic resources, learning styles, health, mobility, time resoruces, national/cultural background, and more.

Whiteboard notes: student differences

Two case studies were discussed in small groups that focused on example assignments. Questions included “What are some assumptions about bodies, abilities, and resources that this assignment makes?” and “How could we shift the assignment to be more inclusive?” These conversations led the group to the final activity, which asked to list activities you use in your own classes, determine who may be excluded, how you could retroactively adjust the assignment, and how you could design a similar activity that would be more inclusive.

Whiteboard notes: strategies and principles

The workshop did an excellent job of getting the participants to look at the use of technology from the eyes of learners with different abilities and resources. Participants left with a list of new strategies and ideas that can easily be applied in all disciplines. For information on other CRLT workshops and opportunities, please see their Programs and Services website. The resources from this presentation is available on their workshop page.

What inclusive strategies are you applying to your own library instruction to account for differences in learners' social, physical, and intellectual backgrounds?