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.