Two years ago, at the last Pan-Canadian Conference on UDL, there was great momentum for creating a Canadian non-profit that might have life of its own and promote UDL across country. We think that we are ready, as a collective of scholars and practitioners, to now make this a reality. If you are attending the Conference in October in Victoria, you will have a chance to become involved and to take on a role in this process. On Thursday October 3rd, we are inviting all interested parties to join us in the Quarterdeck at Royal Roads University, between 9 and 9.30am before breakout sessions begin, to touch base and make initial contact. We hope that people will then be able to find like-minded folks and to select a task they are interested in. The next morning, on Friday October 4th between 8.30 and 9am, there will be four break out rooms set aside for groups willing to take on: (i) the legal formation of the non-profit; (ii) the role of initial administrators and board members, (iii) the creation of a virtual platform for the non-profit, and (iv) the creation of content, and in particular the gathering of information around Canadian initiatives already in place – both in K-12 and post-secondary. It is our hope that by 9am on Friday October 4th, we will have four working groups ready to lead the way for the year to come.
Dr Bonnie Stewart, who will be offering the Keynote at the Conference on October 1st, offers us a preview of her presentation.
Open for Whom? At the Intersection(s) of UDL & Open Practice
When I was an adolescent, I was all out of balance with where school seemed to think I ought to be.
A classic kid with invisible disabilities – and strengths – I was too slow to recognize the warning signs of teachers’ patience wearing thin, and too quick with smart-mouthed comebacks to be able to coast under the radar of compliance-focused classrooms. The command “Bonnie, out in the hall. NOW” was a regular refrain. I spent a memorable proportion of my junior high education sitting out on the floor by the lockers…reading textbooks. I loved learning – books opened up worlds for me – but had you told me then that I’d choose to spend my life as an educator, I’d have rolled my eyes, HARD.
Life often has funny surprises in store.
Today I’ve been a teacher – a scholar in the field of education and a teacher of teachers – for nearly a quarter-century. But those junior high years spent in the hall really shaped my career more significantly than any of the years of formal scholarly education afterwards. They taught me that access to learning is a complex thing. They led me initially to pursue certification in Special Education – because I wanted to be the teacher that *I’d* needed, back when the hallway was where I did my learning. Over the last decade, they’ve led me to towards open education and open pedagogy, focusing on access in economic and social and digital terms, rather than in terms of individual learning needs.
But seldom do the intersections of the two concepts of access get explored together. So with the Pan-Canadian UDL conference keynote this coming October in Victoria, that’s what I’m aiming to do.
Open and UDL are both significant trends in education and higher education right now. Access is a huge part of open, and accessibility is a huge part of Universal Design for Learning. But how do we unpack what access means in practice, in either case? And who is served – and who is made less visible – by the ways we as educators understand the complex axes intersecting to shape this conversation right now?
This talk shares stories of both UDL and open educational practices, and my own and others’ efforts to extend our own concepts of access within each of these fields. I’ll map out what and who gets included when we use both open and UDL ideas of access as our guide to pedagogy, and will try to frame a vision for access that broadens the reach that open education and UDL both currently have…in hopes that fewer learners end up in the metaphorical hallway, in the end.
If you are interested in being part of the creation of a Canadian non-profit for the promotion of UDL, this is also where you will find messages around this topic and will connect with the community of scholars and practitioners that shares this desire with you.
The Conference Blog section will be used during the event itself to facilitate dialogue and networking. Send us your comments on sessions you attended and discuss projects that are emerging from your networking opportunities.
The Third Pan-Canadian Conference launches on October 2nd. In the coming weeks we will be introducing you to some of the presenters.
Emmanuel Martin-Jean has been working with a wide range of learners and is still learning from them in return. Emmanuel has a Master’s degree in film study and a DESS in pedagogy. He is now working as a lecturer in several Cegeps and as a project manager in inclusive practices for the Association of private colleges of Quebec.
His interest in UDL practices comes from a sincere concern for the students’ learning processes development. During his encounter with neuroatypical students, he widened his sensibility and integrated a learner centered practice.
He will present the innovative project of the ACPQ to develop inclusive practices in and out of the classroom. By promoting interdisciplinary collaborations and open discussions within the community of the participating colleges, the aim of this project is to shape superior education through a transparent sharing of practices, strategies and eventually creative commons tools. Each at their own level and according to their specific characteristics, they experiment and work toward inclusion, accessibility and differentiated learning strategies.
He is eager to share with you the singular experiences this project has fostered.
The Third Pan-Canadian Conference on Universal Design for Learning will launch on October 2nd and run till October 4th.
This blog will be used to keep participants up to date with the program and the sessions being offered. Through September we will feature presenters and offer some insight into the content of their sessions.
Watch this space for weekly updates!