Universal Design and Design Education

In interior design, universal design beheld the tools which permitted us to exceed the minimum guidelines of the building code to create truly inclusive interior environments. Designers who embrace evidence-based outcomes in their design process realize meaningful solutions for a diverse population. In Ontario, when the new Act for Ontarians with Disabilities was launched and phased in, educators and administrators were challenged with addressing previously silent disabilities – that is, those less distinguishable or documented.

Online learning can provide a means for a student to digest information at their own pace and in their own way, however, for a student who is a visual learner or who is an extrovert and thrives in the hands-on learning with their peers, unique and engaging opportunities which often rely on social media, must be integrated.

An inventory of learning styles can assist in designing varied means of disseminating theoretical knowledge or process to support a learning activity. I am also currently working to integrate Flipped Classroom methodologies into courses typically reliant on lecture based transfer of knowledge.

King-Sears article lists the following principles which are common to all aspects of design – be it product-based, architectural, educational:

‘These principles include: (1) flexibility in use; (2) equitable use; (3) perceptible information; (4) tolerance for error; (5) simple and intuitive use; (6) low physical effort; and (7) size and space for approach and use.’

(accessed from http://www.cldinternational.org/Publications/LDQ.asp, May 25, 2013).

 For me, being a learner new to WordPress, I am not finding this software platform simple and intuitive. It is a challenge to find a guide has perceptible information! Online help directs me to features which are available only by subscription. Frustrating! A good experience to relate to my students’ experiences when we change platforms at the college.

For me as an educator using Blackboard in my own teaching, I have learned that there must always been tolerance for error – students are often unsure about submitting work electronically in terms of a format, via a dropbox or email – email within Blackboard or personal email. Given not every prof at our college uses online learning in the same manner, this can be very challenging for a student, especially for students which special needs where routine and consistency are essential for their success. We also wish to encourage creativity and resourcefulness – often I ask for non wood based media – a connection to sustainable principles.

Lastly, flexibility in use ideally should integrate mobile access to technology. The format of reference material is not always handheld friendly and I have been surprised to witness students using cell phones to check on classes and reference course learning materials. I take for granted that my students are always in motion and dislike being tethered to their laptops. They are resourceful, multi-task and thrive on discussion – for them, integrating uploads to YouTube with a Google doc for reflective feedback is a quick way of catching up with class. It is also an excellent approach for universal – or inclusive learning. For me, that is still a new and time consuming method that takes a lot of prep to do well. However, the success of my learners encourages my perseverance.

Reflection: Final Assignment

Whew! Done – I think. I found this assignment really challenging. I am used to Blackboard course development as a support for our on-site learning which is of course very different than an online teaching course site. As well, I had to ask Keith what he meant by an alternative online tool – I was digging too deep here being a child of the 70’s and teenager of the 80’s I guess I thought this might be equivalent to alternative music vs Wiki!  Regardless, it was a good use of my one dumb question limit. I am still not sure I truly have any student data.

I started with the Moodle site basing it on a course I enjoy teaching at Humber in the interior design degree program – Ontario Building Regulations. In fact, this course could easily become an online course which would benefit many students and even practicing designers needing to polish up their comfort with this important guideline. After Gail’s invitation to Wikispaces, I decided to try that out for the alternative LMS. I invited any of you who have a Wiki profile to join.

I found Moodle more user friendly than I first found WordPress. It is a bit more intuitive. In contrast, I did not find Wikispace to be user friendly for someone wanting to learn as they go. I used various online help sources, as well as emailing Keith at the start when uploading even via the alternative suggested was not seeming to work. It is still a mystery to me that despite a very convincing error message ‘invalid JSON string’, that my embedded links miraculously appeared the next time I logged on! Still puzzled over that one.

Backing up and restoring the Moodle site was really quick and simple. I did a complete restore over the existing site while holding my breath. After finding a way to backup my newly created Wikispace course, I could not navigate my way through restoring it as you would in a Blackboard or Moodle LMS. This supports my earlier comment that Wikispace is not as intuitive as either of those platforms. However, if I had to reconstruct the course, perhaps the intent is to have all the content in the one .zip file created via the Settings/Backup function.

I did try a variety of online help sources for this, but I do not know the language and could not make use of the process described. For example, on http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Manual:Backing_up_a_wiki some options included ‘Mysqldump from the command line’ or’ Latin-1 to UTF-8 conversion’. Not exactly encouraging to a novice. What I think the intention is (besides not accidentally deleting or losing your data) is that Wiki stores your deleted data/pages for 30 days for you, and that is sufficient time to get back on track.

I do think that the graphics of the open/alternative platforms are limited compared to private licensed sites, however, this may also be the free vs purchased access and development tools. I am a supporter of open education and for this purpose either of these platforms are for sure able to further that goal of education for all.

The quiz tools in Moodle are more flexible than Wikispaces. I used Survey Monkey to replace a quiz I had created in Moodle. However, I realize this will not be added to the assessment automatically. The first tool I was led to, Meebo, is now owned by Google and no longer available. I think that there may be a better option available with more exploration.

I may not continue to develop this course at this point, however, I realize my choice for an open LMS would be Moodle for my work in Uganda. Another goal I have is to work further with WordPress as I did not have any exposure to it prior to EDDL5151, my first course in this certificate.

Week 7: Activity 1 – reflection on educating educators

The current generation of post-secondary students are a challenging, demanding cohort. For me, this presents both challenges and opportunities. I have worked hard to create a culture of collegial dialogue, mutual support and a thirst for knowledge and research which inspires great design. In practice, the discipline of design and architecture is dramatically impacted by technology. New versions of software platforms with rapidly expand capabilities propel three-dimensional ideation and development of new ways of living and working in the built environment. This is challenging, however, the audience to gain competence is limited, that is, we can take workshops to keep current, and employ new tools in our design work with relative confidence. There is college support for this, however, there is no college support for pedagogical support. There seems to be a vacuum in this regard.  Finding instructors who are well versed in software applications AND effective instructors is a constant challenge in my role as program coordinator.  Opportunities exist to utilize technology into this specialty, however, the confidence to deploy those new modalities is still weak in our studio areas.

We are just starting to explore hybrid learning tools in our area. We are taking baby-steps here as we navigate the requirements and techniques. We are fortunate to have support from our Centre for Teaching and Learning at a basic level, however, we are lacking in the technology to make much of this happen. For example, hardware and software is not compatible, connectivity is limited, finding a space to use as a studio to record lessons in an open office and open classroom setting, thus working off-campus and still being accessible to students when that becomes a more suited ‘recording studio’.

Support often comes from an area very different than design education – such as healthcare education – and then we can tap into some of the projects they have successfully integrated. This is the foundation for the strong relationship between healthcare research and design solutions. Evidence-based design has its roots here.

Students respect and are inspired by resourcefulness, however, they have little tolerance with a teacher struggling with technology – this can diminish the confidence to pioneer a new technology in a class, I think that this confidence comes only with application, and the time and support to do that – education for educators, is paramount to meaningful progress managing technology.

Week 6: Activity 2 Publish It or not

I think ‘Publish it’ really works for our emerging designers. We are nurturing this concept with a publication of our thesis projects in a traditional book form, and we are pushing our fourth year students to also consider taking their research to a level that they can see moving towards contributing to a body of knowledge. This also aids us in nurturing a culture of supportive collaboration – convincing students that their ideas can only be matured by inviting the feedback of others. Often, we work to combat a competitive culture in our classes, where students are hesitant to share ideas and drawings as they are developing. The notion of publishing the work emphasizes that everyone benefits from the dissemination of ideas.

An interesting challenge for our teaching area lies in guidelines for what we wish to ‘put out there’ as a product of our teaching. If we take branding of an academic qualification seriously, then is it appropriate to curtail a student from publishing their work if the quality is questionable?  We also place our third year students’ portfolios online for potential employers and see many positive results. The preparation of this e-portfolio takes weeks on the part of students and advisors so that we all feel confident the work that is broadcast to the world is of a professional level.  We are currently discussing setting an evaluation standard for work which is permitted into a year-end show – pedagogically this is creating a great argument for us to debate!  Does the fear of exclusion encourage a student to work hard to seek greater outcomes, or do they simply feel excluded when their work is not displayed or published in the catalogue of student works.

Week 5 Activity 2 0 – home from Uganda and catching up!

Useful to our Area of Learning
  Windows Mac
Web browser Internet ExplorerFirefoxChrome SafariFirefoxChromeComino
Productivity Microsoft Office Microsoft Office
iWorks
Databases Microsoft Access FileMaker
Photo Editing Photoshop Photoshop
iPhoto
Movie Editing Movie Maker iMovie
Sound Editing n/a n/a
Media Playback Media Player Quicktime
Design Development

(incl. CADD)

Google Sketchup

Shaderlite

AutoCAD

Illustrator

InDesign

Revit

Google Sketchup

Shaderlite

AutoCAD

Illustrator

InDesign

Revit

Standard image, however, not relevant to our area of Learning
PaintShop Pro

Putty

Real Alternative

Activity 1: Contract Documents for A Design Studio Project using AutoCAD

What hardware and software is being used in the activity?

  • Students may use their own laptop or college computers in a lab or studio. AutoCAD

How is the technology used?

  • After using manual and digital modeling and sketching applications and activities, students will create a set of drawings that might be used for the tender and construction process.

Why is the technology used?

  • AutoCAD is the industry standard platform and is transferable to other consultants such as engineers.

What are the expected learning outcomes for the activity?

  • Students will continue to enhance their own best practices for design documentation such as graphic standard template development, meaningful dimensioning, integration of materials and methods knowledge.
  • Students will evaluate proposed designs in terms of buildability, function and aestethics
  • Students will peer and self-evaluate the drawings for clarify and accuracy using the program standard red-line method following the evaluation guidelines for the project.

Which of the ISTE standards for students are addressed by the activity?

 

sourced from: http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-students

  • Communication and Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Research & Information, Technology Operations.

What kind of student grouping is used in the activity? (i.e. individual, pairs, small groups)

  • Students develop their drawings individually, peer mentoring and evaluation is done in pairs.

What evidence (or not) is there that the activity is student-centered?

  • There is minimal lecture based instruction. A sample set of drawings is provided for discussion and critique by the students, facilitated by guided questioning of the instructor.

What role did you (the teacher) play in the activity?

  • I provide an overview of industry standard documents, suggest graphic standards, provide Q&A support for the development of drawings, progress review with red-line suggestions is provided at mid-project.

What evidence is there that the technology impacted student learning?

  • Students first develop manual drafting techniques, however, it is the software application that permits students to advance their understanding of industry standard detailing and methods of documenting design projects.

Did the use of technology help address any individual learning differences for students?

  • Online tutorials assist students who require more instruction, one-on-one critiques during the labs assist students who require more feedback or the opportunity to observe the instructor demonstrations. This is a complex software application for most students and we need a significant amount of time to ensure students apply the concepts of use.

For this specific activity, where do you fit in on the TPACK Context diagram?

  • Aside from keeping current, teaching a software application to students with different learning methods and needs, as well as finding opportunities for horizontal integration across the curriculum is challenging. It is essential to be technologically knowledgeable and confident, my pedagogical approach is often case study based – students indicate they learn best from seeing examples of their instructors own work rather than textbook examples. Often we do a forensic review of a design project starting with a built space and peeling off the layers right back to the seed concept.

 

Kelly’s Technology Plan

“I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”  

Borrowed from ~ Albert Einstein

I am in the very fortunate position to be nearing the start of a sabbatical which will be a year of reflecting on where I have been and where I am moving towards on my teaching approach and curriculum development. It is also a critical time in the second year of teaching in Uganda.  A good part of this year will be devoted to assisting the teachers at this Vocational Education Centre in Uganda that I designed and remain very involved with. In fact – for the next couple of weeks I will be working from there. Distance learning, due to a shortage of teachers, will inevitably become a vital part of the learning plan for those students. This will permit the introduction of specialists from overseas to collaborate with our local teachers.

  • A set of objectives or goals (just a few) that describe the key technologies (hardware and software) you plan to use, and why you think they will impact learning (review the current K-12 or higher education Horizon Report that is  appropriate to your teaching context; see if any of the technologies you plan to use are mentioned in the report).

This morning I happened to catch a report on the launch of Google Glass – three pairs are in Canada and this is related to technology mentioned in the Post Secondary Horizons report ‘wearable technology’. For a designer doing site investigations this would be an amazing real time source of analysis. For students off campus viewing precedents and doing material exploration this would be an effective research tool and data collection tool. This year we were approached by a company who wished to partner with us to host a body scan imager to measure the human body anthrompetrically for ergonomic data. As well, we were considering how virtual environments could engage students in a way that we normally have to leave campus to do. A software company was looking for a partner to pilot this technology. Certainly – there are opportunities to be engaged in studies with these emerging innovations.

My immediate plan is to expand the capabilities of our PC hardware set ups with the new ipads – we have limited connectivity and uploading to You Tube does not permit in situ and real time exploration which our students really thrive on.

  • Your plans for formal learning (courses), informal learning, and professional development.

This is my first of 5 courses to complete for the certificate – my goal is to be done by the end of Winter 2014 semester. Feel free to comment on my naïve workload expectations. I plan to also work on professional development related to design practice such as the launch of our new provincial building code – which will impact my teaching in many ways.

  • A description of how a wider community, including experts and learners external to your teaching context, families (in a K-12 context) and other community members are involved in your plan.

Learners external to my design teaching focus will actually help me test out distance learning ideas and strategies for resources working on ideas for vocational training. I hope to expand my network to colleagues outside of my teaching area via online communities.

  • A description of the indicators you will use to evaluate the impact of using technology on learning.

Our students at Humber are really interested in the development of new ideas – perhaps it is part of the creative gene! I can recruit some students to test out ideas.

 I am going to create a series of surveys online to get a better understanding of what they would find engaging and what they would not use. For example, students piloted the new version of Blackboard for one course this semester and the feedback was really helpful in final transition.

Students love the Flipped Classroom approach and I will be working on videos that I can have them watch and provide feedback for – both here and in Uganda.

Week 3 Activity 1

Working at Humber, despite my angst filled reflection last week on my dust-collecting smart-boards, we actually have a really excellent ITS department as well as supportive services and resources to really make a difference for our students with technology.

  1. Does your institution have a technology plan, and if so, how and where is it accessed?

https://its.humber.ca/aboutus/itstrategicplan/

The Humber College Technology plan is really embedded into the overall Strategic Vision of the college proper – however, I have observed the IT team over the last week as I started thinking about this, and they are in constant dialogue with one another – they chat about initiatives and ideas over coffee, even at the Help Desk they are sharing information, the seek feedback from the user group. When I compare the content of the Humber plan at the link above to those links provided for this week’s module, I think ours is far less specific.

This formal statement of goals, objectives and values does not really lay out a specific plan of action, however, Humber has been working on the very ambitious plan of replacing our enterprise system which is the underlying framework for all we do – records, purchasing, communication, etc. This has driven most of the technology decisions.

At the same time – the IT team has to keep pace with the rapidly changing teaching initiatives. We have an excellent Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at Humber, and they provide impetus for change and for learning about new technology. Really keen beans are often seconded into the CTL to share their innovations as well. Much of the teaching and learning technology is driven by these folks and there is certainly no lack of support for those who seek it.

  1. When was the technology plan last updated?

Humber’s Strategic Plans have a 5 year shelf life – the last plan was 2008-2013 and there has been a college wide reflection, analysis, goal-setting and proposal phase since last Fall. Technology is a part of this. Part of the challenge of our very large campus is aging buildings married with new technology. Even establishing wireless access for students has been a challenge – we have accomplished that, however there is a dramatic shortage of power and interestingly, students’ laptop batteries seem to only last for ten minutes unplugged – it is a real mystery!

  1. How are decisions made around technology funding and purchases?

As a publicly funded post-secondary institution, there are governmental guidelines which underpin purchasing. Captial requests are made once a semester by each Program area. Often, technology falls under this umbrella. Standard items are part of the college – for example, computer labs, digital imaging etc. Specialty items can be acquired by putting in a proposal for consideration – at the heart of these decisions is the benefit to students. The request goes up the chain of command for approval and then depending on the criteria, it may be referred to the Facilities Department, to purchasing, or I might receive approval to purchase it directly on a corporate credit card.

http://www.humber.ca/purchasing/doingbusiness.htm

The Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning has a centralized purchasing philosophy. Only designated staff has the authority to commit Humber to a contract.  Further, additional delegated staff is authorized to make small dollar purchases with the use of a P-card.

The department acts as a liaison between all Vendors and the Department requiring the goods and/or services.

  1. Is there a plan for professional development related to the pedagogy of using technology?

 

http://www.humber.ca/centreforteachingandlearning/technology-strategies.html

As I mentioned above – there is a really strong department for professional development at Humber that has frequent workshops, one-on-one assistance, and initiatives to support forward thinking in technology supported teaching and learning. As new hardware or software is launched, both the ITS and CTL staff support the learning community.  The pedagogical approach reflects the institutional value of student-centred learning – most ideas, such as Flipped Classroom video lessons – are encouraged to support diverse learning styles and levels of students.

  1. How often is the impact of technology on learning reviewed?

Each program is different in this regard, I engage my teaching team in reflection formally twice a semester and in more depth at the end of each academic year. Design is largely digitally supported, thus a good deal of our analysis focuses on whether we are using the right software for the best student outcome. We also keep in touch with the industry practices via the Program Advisory Committee. The college relies on the Departmental and Student Feedback as a gauge for technology as well. Students provide feedback twice a year on a course by course basis and complete province wide key performance indicators once per academic year. There are technology based questions on each of these evaluations. Major decisions and changes appear to occur aligned to the strategic plan, however, it appears there is room in the plan for specifics to be developed in tandem with emerging technology in the classroom.

Week 2 Activity 3 Universal Design

In interior design, universal design beheld the tools which permitted us to exceed the minimum guidelines of the building code to create truly inclusive interior environments. Designers who embrace evidence-based outcomes in their design process realize meaningful solutions for a diverse population. In Ontario, when the new Act for Ontarians with Disabilities was launched and phased in, educators and administrators were challenged with addressing previously silent disabilities – that is, those less distinguishable or documented.

Online learning can provide a means for a student to digest information at their own pace and in their own way, however, for a student who is a visual learner or who is an extrovert and thrives in the hands-on learning with their peers, unique and engaging opportunities which often rely on social media, must be integrated.

An inventory of learning styles can assist in designing varied means of disseminating theoretical knowledge or process to support a learning activity. I am also currently working to integrate Flipped Classroom methodologies into courses typically reliant on lecture based transfer of knowledge.

King-Sears article lists the following principles which are common to all aspects of design – be it product-based, architectural, educational:

‘These principles include: (1) flexibility in use; (2) equitable use; (3) perceptible information; (4) tolerance for error; (5) simple and intuitive use; (6) low physical effort; and (7) size and space for approach and use.’

(accessed from http://www.cldinternational.org/Publications/LDQ.asp, May 25, 2013).

 For me, being a learner new to WordPress, I am not finding this software platform simple and intuitive. It is a challenge to find a guide has perceptible information! Online help directs me to features which are available only by subscription. Frustrating! A good experience to relate to my students’ experiences when we change platforms at the college.

For me as an educator using Blackboard in my own teaching, I have learned that there must always been tolerance for error – students are often unsure about submitting work electronically in terms of a format, via a dropbox or email – email within Blackboard or personal email. Given not every prof at our college uses online learning in the same manner, this can be very challenging for a student, especially for students which special needs where routine and consistency are essential for their success. We also wish to encourage creativity and resourcefulness – often I ask for non wood based media – a connection to sustainable principles.

Lastly, flexibility in use ideally should integrate mobile access to technology. The format of reference material is not always handheld friendly and I have been surprised to witness students using cell phones to check on classes and reference course learning materials. I take for granted that my students are always in motion and dislike being tethered to their laptops. They are resourceful, multi-task and thrive on discussion – for them, integrating uploads to YouTube with a Google doc for reflective feedback is a quick way of catching up with class. It is also an excellent approach for universal – or inclusive learning. For me, that is still a new and time consuming method that takes a lot of prep to do well. However, the success of my learners encourages my perseverance.