Online learning should be for everyone. We strive to develop our D2L Ontario Elementary digital resources to include many diverse backgrounds and experiences that can help reflect users’ cultural and social diversity and life experiences. Through the characters we develop, our multimedia, and the language we use to teach and describe concepts, we help reinforce a broad, inclusive, and diverse worldview in all our learning resources.
In this blog, learn how the D2L Course Publishing team was able to achieve more inclusivity and equity in each of the D2L Ontario Elementary resources by using media and portraying diverse characters and languages throughout every course.
Characters: Portraying People
In the elementary grades, students are guided through their courses by teacher and student characters, each with their own unique backstory. These characters represent various ethnic, cultural, and social backgrounds so that students can connect on a personal level.
Media: Portraying Life
We strive to ensure that the widest spectrum of experiences possible are reflected in the videos and images displayed in the online learning environment. While we do portray upper-middle-class traditional families in some cases, we also work to include more diverse situations that reflect many lifestyles, wherever possible. We aim to ensure that images displayed fit naturally within the context in which they are used and do not appear awkward or forced. The sections below illustrate some of the considerations given to media selection in more detail.
Learners come from many different backgrounds and income levels. We ensure that the images within our courses reflect a broad view of different levels of income and various living situations. This is reflected in:
- Family activities: Highlighting events such as hiking or game nights as opposed to tropical vacations
- Material belongings: Being mindful of items such as gaming consoles or expensive toys
- Transportation: representing transportation modes such as public transit, cycling or walking in addition to travel by private automobile
- Regional location: Ensuring rural, urban and suburban living situations are displayed
- Employment situations: Representing adults of any gender who are self-employed, do shift work, or are stay-at-home parents, in addition to those who work in traditional “9 to 5” jobs
- Looking for opportunities to actively enhance diversity in media
- Ensuring people from particular ethnic backgrounds are not portrayed in stereotypical ways
- Ensuring that the image fits the context; don’t use an image just for the sake of enhancing diversity
- Being mindful of how people with disabilities are depicted
- Using different types of disabilities, not just physical
- Normalizing and bringing awareness of people living with disabilities
Family and Relationships
- Choose images that depict diverse forms of family (e.g. single-parents, blended families, biracial families, same-sex parents, adoptive families)
- Ensure that all forms of families are displayed in positive, non-stereotypical ways
- Ensure that diverse living situations are displayed (e.g. apartments, shared sibling bedrooms, multi-generational families)
- Ensure that men, women, and individuals who do not identify as a specific gender are shown with diverse careers, activities, clothing, and entertainment choices
- Ensure images do not reinforce stereotypes
- Ensure that a variety of body types are displayed in the media
- Ensure that body types are not displayed in stereotypical or derogatory ways (e.g. muscular people being heroic, thin individuals participating in sports, larger individuals being lazy or eating junk food)
Language: Words Make Worlds
A word’s explicit and implicit meaning can change over time as well as depend on the context in which it is used. Many words that were once considered acceptable in a learning environment are no longer so.
With that in mind, we strive to remain at the forefront of the use of inclusive and unbiased language. It requires careful attention to avoid the use of language that promotes or reinforces stereotypes either directly or indirectly. We achieve this by attending to the following areas:
- Avoiding the use of adjectives as nouns, focusing instead on person-first language
- Removing gendered language and avoiding using male as the default gender
- Addressing Indigenous people and communities with respect and in proper context
- Addressing mental illness with person-first language
- Recognizing when person-first language and identity-first language is appropriate and when it is not
Here at D2L, we are also dedicated to continuously improving our practices and our resources are regularly updated to reflect the changing cultural landscape. To learn more about the D2L Ontario Elementary digital resources, you can find more information by visiting https://www.d2l.com/k-12/ontario-elementary/.