TLSS - Teaching and Learning Support Service

TLSS Diversity and Learning Series

The diversity of learners in higher education is now the norm! Wondering how to include this reality in your course design and delivery to optimize the learning experience?  This fall, the TLSS is launching its Diversity and Learning Series. The goal is to spark the dialogue within the university community and to provide instructors with tools and strategies on the subject. 

On the agenda: webinars, panels and workshops on accessibility, indigenous life, mental health, internationalization, and the impact of language and gender on learning. 

Please, hover each title to discover the event/activity correspondent to each category you can participating in.

Accessibility

Format: Webinar
Theme: Concepts & strategies to remove barriers to learning for students with different abilities
Facilitation: TLSS

Mental health

Format: Workshop
Theme: Supporting students and their learning process with mental health in mind
Partner: SASS

Gender

Format: Expert panel
Theme: Impact of gender on class climate and learning habits 
Partner: Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies 

Language

Format: Workshop
Theme: impact of FSL and ESL on learning
Partner: OLBI

 

Indigenous

Format: Presentation
Theme: Contemporary realities of education for indigenous students
Partner: IRC

International

Format: Workshop
Theme: Intercultural communication and global citizenship as a driver for learning
Partner: International Office 
You can also download the above graphic in an accessible PDF version.

Diversity and Learning – TLSS Series

Please view the video below for a summary and description of "Diversity and Learning" at the University of Ottawa.
Video Transcript of Diversity and Learning – A TLSS Series

 

Jean-Pascal:

00:08

Hello, let me talk to you about this new series we have on diversity inclusion and learning at a TLSS. First of all, why is this topic important? Well, when we asked students across Canada and universities to define their universities in one word, it's diverse. That comes first. So that's a sign that it's really important to think, to consider also professor Todd Rose from Harvard says that diversity is the norm, not the exception and he's studying neurosciences and learning. So we acknowledge that it's very important to consider. Also, another element to consider is that the student experience and academic success is impacted by inclusion or exclusion in this case. So this series is about accessibility, mental health, gender, language, indigenous affairs, and international, intercultural. So during the year we'll have, we'll host six events with partners that you see on the screen.

Jean-Pascal:

01:33

And the objectives of this series is really to bring awareness and offer tools to, to you so that you can considered a diversity of learners in your classroom and also to take into account that diversity, to enrich the learning environment. And also support students in developing the soft skills to be able to interact with a diverse people to contribute to society. And, so again, those six perspective, are as follow; language, indigenous, international, gender, mental health and accessibility, and for each one, during the year, we'll, we'll talk about a bit of, we'll provide a bit of background, talk about the benefits of considering it, the challenges also. We'll cover strategies and reflective pieces, to bring with you. For example, I'll talk to a few of them. In terms of accessibility, one thing that comes out is that there's 10 percent of students with disabilities on North American campus and when profs don't see the disability,

Jean-Pascal:

03:01

they don't believe that the student has one, and they don't support that student and has a significant impact on chances of success and receiving a diploma. In that session, we'll also talk about the law, which is the Accessibility for Ontarians Disability Act, and that act is not about lowering economic standards and expectations, but it's more about a lowering barriers and supporting people in developing their full potential, keeping the, opportunity in mind. In terms of strategies, we'll cover some of that to talk about accessible material and facilitation and, obviously that will go through the continuum of a accommodation and universal accessibility or design. So that's for accessibility. Now, in terms of indigenous perspective, we'll cover, contemporary realities of students, from an indigenous background and how it impacted their learning and we'll also look at similar similarities between western and indigenous teaching and learning perspectives.

Jean-Pascal:

04:32

So to give us a sense of what's available and learn what we already do and what we could use in or integrate in our teaching to benefit the different learners. And the last one that we'll be talking about is the international and intercultural perspectives, where we'll define the concept of intercultural and international and we'll see how to develop intercultural, and sensitive, to develop intercultural sensitivity and competency and all the benefits to, of using those strategies in class. We'll end by providing some tools and resources.

Jean-Pascal:

05:25

Of course there are other perspective about, we couldn't talk about them. Also, we may want to consider age, a students being first generation, at university or a student who are part time. What is their reality compared to full time students? And also personal traits will impact learning, such as skills or previous knowledge and experience, expectations and motivations and preferences and there are many more that we could talk about. What is the impact of inclusion on learning? There are many, but we'll touch to a few. Um, there's the, it does support academic success and retention. It enriches the learning environment and lowers barriers to learning, and it engages students because, when we include students, they feel valued and, and, and they share because they feel safe to do so. And so it switches also the rapport between the prof and the students and among students themselves.

Jean-Pascal:

06:32

It becomes more collaborative rather than being mistrustful at worst. So, in all of that, help recognizing diversity and the diverse ways of learning. That's what DWL stands for. And that's important to acknowledge that there is no one fits all model because we cannot, consider a students as only one. So there's a myth of the average learner that is inaccurate, we need to consider that there's a diversity of perspective in the classroom a diversity of context and we need to plan for it and we need to deliver for it. So what can it look like? Well, if we frame it in a model before we talk strategies, the first thing is to plan for that diversity, and to be proactive. So thinking about the different possibilities, you know, so instead of being reactive to what's happening in the classroom and that will lead also to a change in roles, uh, so from an information provider to move towards being a guide and a facilitator, facilitator to learning so that we prepare students to learn deeper and to receive feedback and to be engaged.

Jean-Pascal:

08:08

And of course when I talk about that, I'm not reinventing the wheel, I'm talking about best practices in teaching and learning and that includes, having a reflective practice and being welcoming in the classroom, varying teaching methods and using active and engaging learning activities will make a difference in being inclusive, not only for people, from different groups that forms the diverse learners, but also for everyone in the classroom. So that, that makes a big impact. So from those inclusive teaching practices, there are a few strategies to keep in mind. So the first one is to vary the way you present your contents. So not always verbally, you could add videos, podcasts, use a e-voting systems, etc. Okay. You can definitely very activities and examples. For example, there's a prof who was telling me that this, uh, she was talking about hockey in her classroom and at the end of the class the student come, comes up to her and says what is hockey?

Jean-Pascal:

09:30

He was from an area of the world where they don't play hockey, so he didn't know. So we have to be aware of things we take for granted, for example. And also adult learners needs to be provided with challenges and they need to be engaged to use the information, the material, the skills in what they do in life so that they're motivated and they learn further and that serves everyone. We should differentiate assessment. So either by offering choices of topics or for example, saying, well, okay, for this midterm you can either create a video or write an essay on a topic. Okay. And finally and again, we should be reflecting on our practice, our teaching practice and to always seek to change things, to improve, to get better and better at including all of our students so that they can go further. So in closing, I'd like to remind you that our TLSS diversity and learning series will unfold during the year and we have six topics with different partners. And, if you want to register then you can go on tlss.Uottawa.ca, and you click into banner on workshops and events and you register to the ones you're interested in. So I hope you'll enjoy it., and please keep in touch to discuss diversity inclusion and learning.