Peer Reviews & Accessibility

I want to extend my gratitude and thanks to Chris and Scott for their thoughtful feedback regarding my course shell and first module. I am thankful for the time and effort they put into this and it has left me with some very thought-provoking ideas as I near the completion of my course prototype. Additionally, I appreciate the positive comments about the ease of use and the clean design.

Based on the feedback, I intend to embed a stronger instructional voice in my next module. Chris made a really good point that the learning opportunities for students would be enhanced if I included a recorded lesson or at least provided voice-over instruction for my Google Slide presentation. I was disappointed when I recorded my lesson overtop of my Slide presentation and the audio did not upload. For my next module, I believe I will utilize a different format, perhaps record my lesson as a YouTube video and upload it to a private channel accessible to the class only.

I really appreciate that Chris and Scott took time to go through my entire course and explored the links and resources. It made me feel confident that my project is something that could be used in a real classroom setting and that students would engage.

This weeks class discussion centred on accessibility issues surrounding online learning. Having taught through the pandemic really opened my eyes to the inequality that exists when it comes to accessible technology. I was shocked to learn just how many families did not have tech devices or stable internet access. When the Government of Saskatchewan chose to go online for the final four months of the 2020 school year it exacerbated the divide between the have and have not families in our school community. As a school, we worked hard to maintain regular contact with students and their families. However, this proved tremendously difficult when families with multiple children only had one device. As a result, some students reported feeling left behind and disengaged.

Having spent much of the class this week discussing accessibility I reflected on the steps provinces and Canada as a whole have taken to enhance learning for all. Prior to moving to Saskatchewan and following my passion for education, I worked as a manager and trainer at Abilities Centre in Whitby, Ontario. Abilities Centre is a state of the art multi-sport and recreational facility that was designed to enhance physical accessibility by eliminating barriers. For instance, the building uses larger doorways, yellow paint on the perimeter of the floor for wayfinding, brail and audio for directions and information, and created a space where para-sports and fitness was accessible by all regardless of physical or cognitive ability.

Abilities Centre

It is interesting how much effort and focus is placed on ensuring accessibility in physical spaces. However, it is often a feature that is overlooked when considering online spaces. As I progress through my course prototype, I want to spend more time being considerate of the accessibility needs of students. While access to technology is important to begin with, it is important that all students have spaces where they are able to participate.

5 thoughts on “Peer Reviews & Accessibility

  1. Hi Jeff,

    I really enjoyed reviewing your course shell and module. You did a great job! If you need hand with creating any Youtube videos or building an unlisted channel, i’m your guy!

    I would love to hear more about your time with the Abilities Centre and how your learning and skills transferred over to teaching! Very cool.

  2. Great post! So many things to consider with accessiblitiy! I have a hard time imagining all of the concerns I might face in this hypothetical… kind of like units I have at school, they’re never taught the exact same based on the needs of students, but pedagogically it is so important to try to consider all aspects of the unit and all of the challenges some of our students will face! I am glad the review process went well for you! It was a great experience for me as well!

  3. Jeff,

    Thank you for creating such a thoughtful post!

    When you mentioned the Abilities Centre in Ontario and how the physical space is very accessible, it made me think of Universal Design (or in teacher world, The Universal Design for Learning). I agree– I find that there is such an emphasis on accessible physical spaces and in-person learning environments, but it is not the same for online/blended learning spaces. I think it wasn’t really considered as a space that needed to be more accessible, but like you said, the pandemic has highlighted inequities that we can’t ignore moving forward. Below, I’ve posted the CAST website that discusses UDL, in case you’re interested!

    Also, YouTube is a great platform for any teaching videos you decide to make! In general, the kids are already familiar with YouTube, which makes it even easier to use!

  4. Hi Jeff,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It was a great reflection of your course and the issues around accessibility. I especially found your thoughts around how families struggle with internet issues and having access to tech. devices such an important issue. Did this problem ever create a divide amongst learners! As I was reflecting on the accessibility issues, I was shocked to find very little information regarding accessibility in our province. I think there needs to be stronger guidelines for not only our province but also our school divisions to support not only physical accessibility but to remove other barriers for learners in an online space. This was great to notice and mention!

  5. Hey Jeff,

    Really enjoyed reading your blog and reviewing your course as well! That is a really thought provoking idea surrounding the dedication to accessibility in physical spaces but not necessarily in digital ones. I have definitely seen improvement in this area within our school division but there is still a long way to go.


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