Putting accessibility first
SIIT began looking for a solution that would help it put accessibility first, not only by providing a technology platform that was easy and convenient for students and facilitators, but also by supporting a more flexible educational model.
SIIT also appreciated how D2L Brightspace is built around accessibility and equity for students—for example, the responsive design of the Pulse mobile app means that mobile users have full access to all the features of the platform, making life easier for students who don’t have regular access to a computer at home. Equally, the focus on supporting guided-study complemented the flexibility needed by SIIT’s student population, as many need to balance work and family responsibilities with finding time for online learning.
“With great support from the D2L team, we were able to get two of our JobSeries programs up and running quickly,” says Ally Rinas. “I credit a lot of the implementation process to staff at D2L, who were so supportive and validated the work that we were putting in.”
She adds: “Because we’re a small team in JobSeries, we are agile and flexible in trying new things, which has been successful for our program outcomes. SIIT as an institute decided to adopt the Brightspace platform, which gives us access to even more features.”
Through integration between D2L Brightspace and Bongo, SIIT now enables JobSeries students to log in to a virtual classroom, meet with facilitators and fellow students, and work through group activities. These sessions are recorded so that students who can’t attend on the day of the lesson can catch up later. The virtual classrooms typically take place in the morning and at the end of each day, while the afternoons are devoted to guided-pace study as well as one-to-one virtual meetings between facilitators and students.
“The facilitator reaches out to everybody individually to support and motivate them daily, answer any questions, and check in with them to ensure that they’re progressing,” says Ally Rinas. “Those regular one-to-ones are such an important aspect of what we do because they build relationships and give our students confidence.”
For example, Bella Morin, a student on SIIT’s JobQuest program, comments: “These programs and experiences have really helped me focus on my goals, my hopes, and my dreams, and to become healthier in mind, body, and spirit. I will keep pushing myself to make steps toward my goals and be on the lookout for more SIIT programs.”
SIIT has also created an online community for its facilitators so they can share their knowledge and support each other. The JobSeries team is using badges in D2L Brightspace as an engagement tool to help students track their progress and recognize their achievements.