Diverse Learners Awareness Week 2016

Last Updated: 04/03/2017

Abstract

As one faculty member commented on the anonymous exit survey for the 2016 inaugural Diverse Learners Awareness Week, "This was fantastic and full of viable options to try. I’m eager to begin working with them and pass on the benefits to our students."

Partially funded by a CU-System Diversity and Excellence Grant, Diverse Learners Awareness Week was a project co-sponsored by OIT and Disability Services, and included partnerships with the CU Boulder Chancellor’s Accessibility Committee and the Colorado Learning and Teaching with Technology (COLTT) Conference. The initiative is now part of OIT’s Strategic Plan and will be an annual event that builds community and aligns with the Diversity and Inclusion Summit.

Challenge

In late 2015 when CU Boulder began focusing on a mission of inclusive excellence, members of the ATDT recognized an opportunity to specifically expand the notion of diversity to one that includes persons with disabilities and help to create an inclusive campus overall, while also calling attention to CU Boulder’s new Accessibility Policy. Under the new policy’s stated goal of becoming a fully accessible campus by fiscal year 2018, our Universal Instructional Design Consultant saw that there needed to be additional outreach around both the policy and accessibility more broadly. Alaina Beaver teamed with Jill Sieben-Schneider, Associate Director of Disability Studies, to apply for a Diversity and Excellence Grant, which was funded in January of 2016. The challenge then became how to put together a campus-wide event in two months’ time.

Solution

Members of the ATDT and Disability Services came together to form a team dedicated to planning and implementing Diverse Learners Awareness Week, April 18-22, 2016. As the team began working in Feb. of 2016, Diverse Learners Awareness Week was raised to project status within OIT and, once chartered, the team was able to leverage a wider variety of OIT and campus networks more broadly.

The result was a “celebration of the ways we learn and play at CU,” a week-long series of events that garnered participation across the CU campuses and from the CU System office.

Key Design Features Included

  • Fifteen conference-like sessions that featured a variety of presenters, from students to staff to faculty.
  • A keynote presentation by world-renowned Universal Design scholar Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler of U. of Washington, which was live-streamed to other campuses and allowed for remote participation in the event.
  • A Cafe Pedagogique event co-sponsored by COLTT (and stemming from their Cafe Ped model) and facilitated by Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler and MSU Denver’s Alex McDaniel and Michael Erskine.
  • An interactive theater performance by the educational community theater group Affinity Arts, which was co-sponsored by the Chancellor’s Accessibility Committee.
  • A learning technologies expo that included representatives from OIT’s Accessibility and Usability Lab and Disability Services’ Alternative Format Access Lab, as well as CU Boulder’s captioning service and ATDT representing our Kubi pilot.
  • An adaptive sports event featuring a screening of the short documentary “Gimp Monkeys,” about the first amputee climbers to summit El Capitan, followed by a discussion with renowned climbers Craig Demartino (lead climber in “Gimp Monkeys”) and Malcolm Daly, and adaptive sports instructor Mike Neustedter.
  • A white board campaign that asked campus members to consider, “I learn best when…” as a prelude to Diverse Learners Awareness Week, with the aim of raising awareness about the event as well as the broader concept that everyone learns differently.
  • A branding strategy that created a visual theme of inclusion, tying together all of our main artifacts such as our Accessibility website, program, and promotional materials for distribution such as our video featuring Chancellor DiStefano.
Photo of people holding whiteboards describing their best learning environments
Many people from across the CU Boulder campus participated in the 'I learn best when...' white board campaign, expressing a diversity of learning needs and preferences.

Accomplishments

  • Twenty-two sessions were offered across 5 days of events, involving over a dozen units across the CU Boulder campus and beyond.
  • A mix of staff, students and faculty presented, as well as guest speakers from the Boulder community, neighboring institution MSU Denver, and our guest speaker Sheryl Burgstahler from U. of Washington.
  • There were a total of 390 signed-in participants across sessions; 243 different individuals participated.
  • An anonymous exit survey at sessions found that, across 149 respondents, overall effectiveness was rated at an average of 90% (on a scale of 0 to 10).
  • Event will live on as annual event, included in OIT strategic plan, with dedicated partnership from Disability Services.

Alignment with Strategic Goals of the University

Diverse Learners Awareness Week aligned with the Chancellor’s goals of Reputation, Retention and Revenue as well as a focus on inclusive excellence. As an outreach event that spanned across the CU Boulder campus and the broader institution in initial partnerships, Diverse Learners Awareness Week primarily worked to promote the CU Boulder reputation, specifically in regards to inclusive excellence. In addition, by involving a wide variety of presenters and groups across the campus who work directly with students, Diverse Learners Awareness Week contributed to positive community-building, which links to Retention of students, and therefore, Revenue.

Team

Alaina Beaver, co-lead, Universal Instructional Design Consultant, Academic Technology Design Team, OIT
Valerie Hamilton-Brodie, co-lead, Senior Access Coordinator, Disability Services
Joseph Andenmatten, Access Coordinator, Disability Services
David Normann, Project Manager, OIT
Sandra Sawaya, Academic Design Strategy Manager, Academic Technology Design Team, OIT
Jill Sieben-Schneider, Associate Director, Disability Services
Courtney Fell, Learning Experience Designer, Academic Technology Design Team, OIT
Robert Schwander, Information Design Manager, OIT
Greg Stauffer, Public Relations and Communications Manager, OIT
Kristin Lueck, Technical Communications Coordinator, OIT

Partners