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Working Together to Build a Foundation for EDI in Manitoba

The Flexible Learning Advisory Group (FLAG) is an active and engaged group of faculty and staff members from each of the public post-secondary institutions in the province. Campus Manitoba and FLAG regularly seek ways to collaborate with the system, so when local educators expressed interest in new resources to deliver an improved teaching and learning experience for their learners, we jumped on the opportunity to collaborate on the development of an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) resource. The resource is available for download and distribution.

Intro to EDI in Teaching and Learning

This new training resource was designed to be an introduction to EDI, not a comprehensive compilation of everything around this vital topic. The resource was created through an advisory committee — a diverse selection of contributors nominated by their respective institutions to contribute to this module — and authored by Dr. Laura Forsythe, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Winnipeg.

“Through this experience and the opportunity to work with the institutions here in Manitoba,” said Dr. Laura, “I continue to learn about reconciliation in action with all of the stakeholders in agreeance. This made it possible for our introduction to be grounded in Indigenous pedagogy while ultimately following the First Peoples principles of learning.”

The University of Manitoba’s Iwona Gniadek explained why it was essential to develop this new resource. “We want everyone to understand what EDI stands for — what that means — and how to implement strategies within the teaching context. There was a lot of information available, but we found many people, including ourselves, were asking the question, ‘What can I do right away in my class to make it more inclusive?’ So that’s why we focused on providing actionable strategies in this resource.”

The learning outcomes for this module are:

  1. Define your meaning of equity, diversity, and inclusion
  2. Articulate why incorporating equity, diversity, and inclusion into teaching and learning is important for the success of your learners.
  3. Incorporate teaching strategies and techniques that promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in teaching and learning.

Openly Accessible

Like all resources created with Campus Manitoba, the Teaching and Learning module features a Creative Commons open license, which means it can be localized for each institution to provide even more value. “The Manitoba Learning Hub has worked hard to ensure this resource is learning management system – agnostic,” said Carley McDougall, Special Projects Coordinator at Campus Manitoba. “It can be used at the different institutions on everyone’s LMS, such as Moodle and D2L, and the ultimate goal is to create more modules to help instructors easily and effectively incorporate EDI into their teaching and learning.”

What if a classroom isn’t a classroom?

“When we think about equity, diversity, and inclusion,” shared Dr. Laura, “we realize that it’s about relationships. It’s about instructors getting to know their learners. It doesn’t matter if you’re standing in a warehouse, if you’re in a lab, or if you are sitting at desks with seats in a row, that relationship aspect is unchanged. I’m hopeful that the instructors that have the privilege to go through this EDI series will continue to work towards classroom experiences that are welcomed, safe spaces for all of our learners.”

Next Steps

“This is the first module of a series that the Manitoba Flexible Learning Hub is planning to build,” explained Iwona. “We have disseminated the module to different institutions, and we’re hoping to get feedback through the included survey. This will give us insight into the data collected, and then we can determine the topics of the next and subsequent modules. Right now, we don’t have a sequence determined. We have some ideas from the original group, but we’ll use the data from their feedback to inform the future modules.”

Learning as we go

The development of this resource provided opportunities for us to improve what we do around teaching and learning. “One of the issues that came up in the development process was related to the pronunciation that screen readers had with some of the greetings from Dr. Laura,” explained Carley. “The algorithm was pronouncing things phonetically, which wasn’t ideal, so we went back and re-recorded them to ensure we had the correct pronunciation.” The group could have simply blamed the technology and acknowledged its limitations, but instead, they made the time to improve it so that future listeners have a fuller experience while accessing these resources. The issue was first identified and resolved at the University of Manitoba, where they are using ReadSpeaker inside their LMS. Institutions using other screenreader technologies will want to review their resources to ensure they’re delivering an inclusive experience. Ariful Hoq Shanil, an instructional designer with the HUB, will reach out to the institutions to let them know how they might address this issue for the various screenreaders.

Other aspects, such as using alt-text, downloadable PDFs, and proper heading structures, have been employed to improve not only this resource but other online sources under the purview of Campus Manitoba.

What is the Manitoba Flexible Learning HUB?

One of the best resources available to the province’s public post-secondary system is the Manitoba Flexible Learning HUB: a team of instructional designers, digital media specialists, and educators working together to support the development of the resources required to deliver a high-quality online teaching and learning experience throughout the province.

“The Manitoba Flexible Learning HUB is a great resource for the whole post-secondary education sector of Manitoba,” shared Kim Grenier Mintenko, executive director at Campus Manitoba. “Faculty and staff from the various institutions can access support to bring their online course to life, learn how to make it more engaging, and develop infographics, videos, workshops and more to support their vision of teaching and learning. It’s truly a fantastic resource, and we’re proud to work with this team of talented people.”

Housed at the University of Manitoba, the HUB is an excellent resource for consultations about designing an online course and assistance with course design, content creation, and professional development. Pretty much whatever is required to create an effective, openly licensed learning vehicle.

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