Humanized and Accessible: Is it possible?

Concurrent Session 4

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Humanized online learning and accessibility don’t often go hand-in-hand. Creating interactive, engaging online learning experiences often requires stepping outside of traditional teaching boundaries, while creating fully accessible coures typically keeps faculty in traditional environments. This session, will focus on how we support faculty in developing humanized and accessible learning experiences.



Jill M. Leafstedt, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of Teaching & Learning Innovation and Senior Academic Technology Officer at CSU Channel Islands. In this role, Jill guides faculty development and academic technology. She is also a Professor of Education and spent 11 years designing curriculum to prepare special education teachers.
Kristi moved to Ventura County in 2011 to attend CSU Channel Islands; in the Spring of 2012 she began working as the Blended Learning Preparation Program (BLPP) student assistant under the leadership of Jill Leafstedt. She graduated in May 2013 and in September of that year transitioned into a position as the Junior Instructional Designer. In December 2015, she was hired as an Instructional Technologist/FIT Studio as part of the Teaching and Learning Innovations team. As of January 2018, she is the Instructional Technologist- Accessibility Lead and FIT Studio Coordinator for the team. In addition to her campus responsibilities, she finished her M.A. degree in Learning Technologies at Pepperdine University. She is a strong supporter of utilizing technology to meet the needs of a diverse student body and supporting faculty as they explore Teaching and Learning with technology. She is also passionate about #a11y and Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Extended Abstract

Humanized and Accessible: Is it possible?

This presentation will demonstrate how Teaching & Learning Innovations at CSU Channel Islands has reconciled the often contradictory practices between effective online teaching and accessibility. All too often accessibility is used as the rationale for saying ‘no’ to faculty innovation in the classroom. At CSU Channel Islands we believe in both innovation and access and are committed to making the two work together.

At the core of our faculty development Pathways program is a dedication to humanized online learning. Because, online students often feel isolated, which can decrease motivation and increase attrition, we have developed a series of programs that help faculty understand that an important part of the instructor's role in an online learning experience is ensuring the learning environment is "people focused" or humanized (Ducharme-Hansen & Dupin-Bryant, 2005). When students relate to an online instructor as something more than a subject matter expert and begin to conceive of themselves as part of a larger community, they are more likely to be motivated, be satisfied with their learning, and succeed in achieving the course objectives (Picciano, 2002; Rovai & Barnum, 2003; Richardson & Swan, 2003). The end goals of humanized online learning are fostered through integrating learners voices, engaging students in the active construction of knowledge, fostering emotional connections, and providing students with choices. Ultimately, humanized learning increases the relevance of content to learners and improves one's motivation to log-in week-after-week. At CI our faculty are prepared to teach in a humanized manner through our our Online Teaching Preparation Program and our Blended Learning Preparation Program.  Both of these programs encourage faculty to explore emerging technologies. We support faculty in finding the tools that match their students learning needs.  

As anyone that has worked in the world of accessibility knows, emerging technologies are not always designed with accessibility in mind. Policies guiding our practices around accessibility require all materials to be accessible via a screen reader. This often creates a tension between the need for accessibility and the need for engaging, interactive learning experiences. In many instances faculty are told not to use outside tools in the classroom. This in turn limits their ability to explore and find the most effective way to reach their students. The Teaching & Learning Innovations team has taken a different approach. We encourage innovation in the classroom through the exploration and experimentation with technologies while also building support for faculty around accessibility.

This last fall, we were challenged to bring these two areas together in a meaningful and challenging way. We offered a fully online class using the latest technology taught through the open web on WordPress. Our Dance in History course was taught by Heather Castillo, Assistant Professor of Dance at CI. Although we have had many courses taught on the open web, this was the first time we were challenged to assure that each component of the course was accessible.

This session will present the course and the strategies we used to assure the course would be both humanized and accessible to all students. Specifically, we aimed to assure access for a student with significant visual and motor impairments. Our goal was to empower the faculty to teach how she wanted to teach, using the tools of her choosing while meeting the needs of all students. The course was built on the open web and was heavily dependent on the following technologies:

  • WordPress is an online, open source website creation tool and in this case is represented by the CI Keys site that was built for the course.

  • Google Docs were created to outline weekly requirements and assignments, as well as, rubrics, the course reading list, and grading policy. Google docs enables users to write, edit, and collaborate wherever they are.

  • Padlet was used for student curation and reflection on a chosen topic to demonstrate understanding the content. Padlet is a virtual wall that allows users to collaboratively share their thoughts via images, videos, documents, and text on a given topic from any device.

  • VoiceThread was used to provide students with the ability to use voice and video to respond to class activities. All Voicethreads were captioned as needed by an outside contractor. VoiceThread is an interactive and collaborative cloud-based technology that enables asynchronous conversation in voice, video, and text around media.

  • YouTube was the chosen platform for hosting videos. All videos were captioned by a company that was contracted with for this purpose.

Each technology was chosen due to its ability increase engagement by providing opportunities for students to interact and build their online presence in the course.

Participants in this session will learn about developing fully accessible humanized courses. They will see our Dance in History class, learn how we checked for accessibility and quick tips for developing accessible and interactive learning experiences. All participants will leave with resources to support others in developing accessible and humanized online learning experiences.