Connecting with Purpose: Applying Proven Techniques for Strengthening Inclusivity

Concurrent Session 3 & 4 (combined)
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

This interactive session will introduce the Purposeful Learning Framework to inform course design and delivery that creates effective outcomes for the greatest number and diversity of learners. Presenters will specifically demonstrate and engage participants in 5 principles for inclusive teaching and learning, with proven resources and methods for applying each.


Specializing in leadership and collaboration efforts for teaching, learning, access/ibility, inclusion, and innovation in higher education. Prior to my position with O'Donnell Learn, I worked for 23 years in the California State University system, leading and supporting student success efforts at campus and system levels. This includes 15+ years teaching experience in Educational Technology, Teacher Education, UDL/Accessibility, and K-12 partnerships. In addition to teaching, I have served in leadership roles in multiple state and national projects, such as EnACT (U.S. DoE) and Access by Design (NSF). The primary focus of these has been on professional development for more effective and inclusive teaching methods, accessibility/UDL, technology, and assessment. For eight years, I led systemwide efforts related to Quality Learning and Teaching (online-blended-flipped-augmented), Universal Design for Learning/accessibility, Supplemental Instruction, and Transforming Course Design. Many of these projects have involved leading Professional Learning Communities toward more effective teaching-learning outcomes and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning outputs. Finally, I am actively engaged in research and dissemination related to professional development, teaching-learning effectiveness, accessibility, inclusivity, and instructional technology. This includes a broad range of pedagogical topics, educational uses of technology, as well as developing effective online resources for broader implementation. Related presentations and consultations have been at the national and int'l levels, including North America, South America, Europe, Middle East, and Asia. Specialties: instructional effectiveness; curriculum & instruction; accessibility; Universal Design for Learning; innovation, instructional technology; online learning; blended learning; diversity, equity, and inclusion; educational leadership; project management; professional learning communities; instructional continuity.
For over 25 years, Carrie O'Donnell has been a change-agent in the education industry, focusing on digital learning solutions for the workplace and higher education, and on using customer insight to build great learning experiences. Her firm, O’Donnell Learn, is a leading learning experience (LX) design agency in higher education. Founded 30 years ago as a virtual company, the team includes hundreds of learning designers who partner with institutions and their faculty to improve virtual or blended learning.
Gerard L. Hanley Ph.D. is the Executive Director of MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching, and SkillsCommons ( for the California State University, the Director for the Center for Usability for Design and Accessibility and Professor of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach. At MERLOT and SkillsCommons, he directs the development and sustainability of the international consortium and technology strategy to provide open educational services to improve teaching and learning and continues to development the US Department of Labor's open repository of educational resources for workforce development. Gerry's previous positions include Assistance Vice Chancellor for Academic Technology Services at the CSU Office of the Chancellor, the Director of Faculty Development and Director of Strategy Planning at CSU, Long Beach.

Extended Abstract

This session will begin with introductions by the presenters and sharing of their respective experience and expertise related to the topic. Session participants will be asked to introduce themselves, how their role connects to the session topic, and what they hope to gain from the session. Presenters will then share the designed session outcomes to inform participants and to ensure that needs of all participants are met, as much as possible.  Discussion will begin by establishing that DEI efforts do not belong to one office or entity on campus, but rather are something critical to be mobilized through creating more inclusive learning experiences where all students see themselves as belonging, represented, and destined to succeed.  This will be shared in the context of a Purposeful Learning Framework, a set of objectives developed by the presenters and used to inform effective online-blended-hyflex course effectiveness. 

Presenters will specifically demonstrate and engage participants around 5 principles for inclusive teaching and learning: Reflecting on one’s beliefs to maximize self-awareness and commitment to inclusion; Fostering a class climate of belonging; Setting explicit student expectations; Selecting course content that promotes diversity; Designing all course elements for accessibility (adapted from Columbia University). 

Presenters will emphasize critical course design and delivery aspects that proactively foster diversity, equity, and inclusion while increasing student success and closing equity gaps.  It should be noted that all this is done without changing the course learning outcomes. Participant sharing, input, and engagement will be fostered using multiple in-session active learning techniques. Multiple hands-on activities will enable participants to initiate their enhanced equity and inclusion plans in a learn-by-doing manner and to set goals for near-terms goals they will meet in going back to their respective roles post-conference. 

At the conclusion of the session, participants will be provided access to the Purposeful Learning Framework and a wealth of other related Creative Commons licensed resources demonstrated in order to enable their efforts to create the most inclusive learning experiences for their students.