A new year is starting to unravel itself. With it, the usual listicles of trends and prognoses about the future of different aspects of our lives are beginning to be abundant. With a focus on education, and instead of going down the usual path of what 2023 could have in store for us, I decided to focus on one aspect that started to make its presence felt and which, most likely, will continue to impact the way we learn and teach. However, there's a catch to my limitation to one subject article – bear with me.
There is a growing concern about being inclusive in different spheres of society, including education. You may have heard the terms "universal design," "universal design in education," and "universal design for learning," or their abbreviations UD, UDE and UDL. Do you know what these terms actually mean and how they differ?
With the new year well in place, curfews, isolation periods, schools, and offices closed, the thoughts on what the future will bring for our field of Educational Technology need to be reflected upon in a context of a pandemic. There is a clearer physical and mental health need to review our gear for our new offices at home. Our job definitions are currently morphing at the same time as our working conditions, and it seems as though we won’t have to wait as long to see the new generation of jobs that were never to be conceived before.
While most of the elements discussed in this article are a continuation of efforts made in the previous years, we can look at 2022 under the umbrella of "nothing changes except our need to change." In other words, as an industry in general, education is a slow-moving steamboat hard to steer but one that, once reaching fast waters, is in dire need of suitable strategies.
Whenever we feel the need to address our colleagues or bosses about changing their behaviour, or doing something they ignore, it could be considered a tough conversation. However difficult these conversations might be, they are part of a workplace reality and finding the best words to make the conversation go as smoothly as possible is not always easy.
For the first time, the NETendances survey, which draws up a digital profile of Quebecers each year, focused on adults with disabilities. The notion of disability used in this context included any difficulty of a hearing, visual, cognitive, physical or psychological nature as well as any other long-term health problem. Of the 12,000 Quebecers aged 18 and over interviewed for the full survey, 3,743 had at least one of these difficulties.
It is vital to fully understand that integrating accessibility principles in online learning is not an easy fix; it requires proper modelling. Furthermore, accessible instruction does not simply consist of telling professors what accessibility is and expect them to do it all on their own; it is about inclusion and the benefits it can bring to all students in a class.
Higher education is a luxury that’s not available to everyone, or, at least, it is a luxury that is more available to some than others. And although financial limitation is certainly an inhibitor, it is not the only one. Think, for example, of the cultural acclimation an international student might experience if they were to relocate to, say, Montreal for their post-secondary studies.
The recent publication of a New York Times article brought a bit more light into this well-known feeling that lingers through some of these days: Languishing. According to the author Adam Grant, "languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you're muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021."
Occasionally, that’s what this pandemic-inspired solitude feels like: a punishment. And what’s more upsetting than a punishment for a crime you did not commit? Such are the conditions that many students and educators have endured for almost a year. It is easy to think of remote learning—specifically, remote learning that is not “voluntary”—as something of a relegation into unfamiliar educational territory.