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DLINQ Studios

Planning for the New Academic Year in the Inclusive Design Studio

The beginning of the Fall semester has flown by – perhaps, like me, you’re wondering, how is it already October 9th? Here in Vermont, Fall isn’t just knocking on the door, it has let itself into the house and is snuggled up with one of the cats under my favorite blanket and is sipping hot cocoa while I shiver. But as a lifelong student and longtime academic, I love Fall and the sense of opportunity for new beginnings that comes with the season.

In that vein, Noraya and I have begun to shape our plans for what our work in the Studio this year might look like. Last year, our goal was primarily to lay a foundation for what the Studio values and how it might engage in inclusive design work with the broader community. We looked at it an opportunity to set out on our inclusive design journey, guided by a series of inquiry questions, and a desire to work openly. With input from community members, we crafted a mission statement that grounds our work in a set of core values and practices that we are committed to living, however imperfectly, in our work this year.

So what are we planning for this academic year? This fall, Noraya has decided to undertake an inquiry around conflict resolution in digital spaces, spurred by her time in the Inclusive Design track at Digital Pedagogy Lab this summer, and her interest in conflict resolution. Noraya is planning to keep a regular blog with updates and musing related to her project, and it’s best to let her explain her line of inquiry in more detail. I’m excited to see where it leads!

My work related to Inclusive Design will take a couple of different shapes this academic year. I’ve put together a series of workshops for Middlebury faculty that provide a deeper dive into Universal Design for Learning and how we might use it to examine barriers in our curriculum and design more inclusive learning experiences. We’ll also talk about when and where digital tools can help support inclusive design, and when and where they may themselves present barriers of various kinds (from lack of accessibility to hostile design). On the professional learning front, I’m also in conversation with Renee Wells, Middlebury’s Director of Education for Diversity and Inclusion, about possible collaboration or cooperation between DLINQ/IDS and her wonderful Inclusive Practitioners Program.

Finally, I’ve been involved in some generative brainstorming conversations with Hannah Davidson of Plymouth State University, Jenni Hayman of Cambrian College, and Jess Mitchell of IDRC, around creating a faculty un-guide for inclusive teaching and learning. Yep, an un-guide. This stems from our desire to push back against the notion that inclusive design is a checklist, that completing the steps in a guide automatically leads to inclusively designed teaching and learning. Rather, we’re envisioning a site where faculty can encounter provocations that challenge and deepen their understanding of inclusive design, and opportunities to come together to discuss, individually reflect, and perhaps consider how they might live their ideals through their teaching. We’re at the early stages, and we’ll keep you posted as things develop.

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