Strategies for Access and Equity in Online Learning | D2L
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Access and Equity in Online Learning

  • 2 Min Read

Our recent webinar, Education, Equity, and COVID-19, brought together educational leaders to discuss their visions for the future of access and equity in online learning. Panelists Dr. Bronwyn Ragan-Martin, Kimberly Smith, and Dr. Patrick Gittisriboongul shared strategies for providing equitable ways of learning to students. This webinar was hosted by D2L CEO John Baker and moderated by Nia Brown, Senior Manager of External Affairs at D2L.

Online learning is not one-size-fits-all. Many different challenges come into play and affect the ways in which students can consume information. These challenges to student success include learning disabilities, mental health concerns, social-emotional well-being, environment, accessibility issues, and more. Here are a few highlights and a link so that you can watch the webinar in full on demand.

Providing individualized support

One strategy highlighted in the webinar is the case management approach, which involves providing personalized attention to address each student’s unique situation. This might involve making phone calls to households, dropping off packages, recording customized videos, or setting up regular check-ins. Another approach mentioned is appointment-based learning for those who require the use of specific services and facilities. The webinar shows how truly dedicated this group of passionate educators is to supporting the well-being of students and families.

A learning management system, like D2L’s Brightspace platform, can provide special access for students who require accommodations, like additional time on quizzes or modified due dates. Conditional release of materials will support scaffolding and differentiation as well.

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How to accommodate and differentiate lessons in Brightspace

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Ensuring accessible learning online

Of course, a conversation around equity would not be complete without addressing accessibility. As noted by John Baker, “These barriers can be overcome. It’s not like the olden days. There’s really no reason why a student who’s blind or deaf can’t participate equally. We work hard at that when building these types of learning technologies.”

In the webinar, Baker elaborates on D2L’s commitment to accessibility in education. At D2L, we believe that all learners should have equitable access to high-quality learning experiences. The Brightspace platform includes a built-in accessibility checker and the ability to turn on automatic transcription in multiple languages when recording videos. These features reflect universal design for learning (UDL) principles and help bridge the accessibility gap in online teaching and learning experiences.

Offering alternative metrics

Additionally, the group raises the idea of alternative metrics, which allow us to rethink how we assess students’ comprehension and retention of information. Traditionally, assessments have been score-based tests or assignment submissions, but a bit of creativity can help us unlock ways to support student progress for access and equity.

During the webinar, the discussion touches on competency-based learning, a model that allows for different ways of defining student success. John Baker notes alignment of that model with a new feature in the Brightspace platform, Mastery View of the Gradebook, which allows educators to monitor student progress against learning outcomes instead of numeric values.

Watch the full webinar on demand now to learn more about access and equitable learning strategies.

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