In conversations with leaders across both K-12 and higher education institutions, it’s become clear that building buy-in to test our new technologies or adopt new learning methods is often the hardest part. Bringing about change can only be done when the right stakeholders are involved and invested. But how can today’s education leaders build buy-in across their schools?
This need for buy-in has been especially designed with the greater use and adoption of the Universal Design for Learning, or UDL, and its principles. UDL is being employed by K-12 schools, eLearning providers and well-known universities alike to offer students more choice and personalization in their learning. UDL looks at student preferences and takes them into account, recognizing every learner is unique. UDL allows these learners to make choices which are proven to help them succeed academically. It’s also particularly helpful when considering the needs of students navigating disabilities.
In interviewing accessibility leaders at Virginia Tech, Mark Nichols and Christa Miller, they mentioned that getting buy-in for items like captioning often comes down to more education across campus. With greater awareness and presented use cases for how students – and even their professors – can benefit by offering more choice in the classroom and online, more faculty have showcased their willingness to actively drive or participate in growing UDL-based initiatives.
Leaders at the University of Massachusetts – Lowell and the University of North Carolina Wilmington have been successfully building buy-in for inclusive design at their respective schools. On March 9th, they shared their insights and opportunities other institutions should be aware of in offering students more options to meet their learning needs and preferences. This live event ‘Building Buy-In for Inclusive Design’, which can be seen on-demand, explored these two university case studies on the journey toward accessibility.
Three leaders, Jody Goldstein, Amy Ostrom and Brandon Drake, joined Verbit live to explore new ideas on how to build buy-in at a school and on programs to launch based on their successful initiatives. The session aimed to inspire attendees who are invested in driving acceptance and inclusion for diverse students on campuses and online.
Goldstein, Director of Disability Services at UNCW, joins UNCW after working in the University of Massachusetts system since 2001. 11 of her years there were spent in the Office of Disability Services. While at UMass Lowell, Jody initiated a Peer Mentoring Program to support students with disabilities, an early move-in transitions program for freshmen with different abilities and disability awareness programming to impact the culture and attitudes in which students with disabilities are viewed and included on campus. She also co-facilitated a social support group for students in the Autism Spectrum.
Goldstein spoke alongside her colleague Amy Ostrom, Director of Distance Education and eLearning, UNCW. She has been at UNCW since 2017 and her role has become highly important with the shift to more remote learning environments due to COVID-19. Ostrom has worked with faculty in higher education on UDL, access and inclusion, and online course design for the past 10 years. She has a passion for innovative and inclusive practices, faculty development and online learning.
Additionally, Brandon Drake, Associate Director / Manager of Assistive Technology who previously worked with Goldstein on her old stomping grounds of University of Massachusetts – Lowell, offered his perspective. He joined UMass Lowell in June 2015 as Assistant Director for Assistive Technology in Disability Services. He works with students finding ways to access everything UMass Lowell offers through software, hardware and training. He is also working with faculty daily on ways to make their courses more accessible to students.
The event gathered leaders across higher-ed universities and eLearning providers to explore ideas, common challenges and opportunities, as well as provided an opportunity for live polling so attendees could better understand the perspectives of their peers.