Linguistic Inclusion and Equity In Online/Digital Learning Spaces

Concurrent Session 1 & 2 (combined)
Streamed Session Equity and Inclusion

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Brief Abstract

Today, attendees at conferences like OLC Innovate can expect a commitment to and presentations on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Advocacy. Often left out of the conversation, though, is language. This session overviews the importance of this topic in teaching and learning and reviews research related to linguistic discrimination/ bias and educational outcomes. Along the way, participants will be asked to participate in language-related activities, designed to get them questioning their language-based biases and increase their understanding of linguistic diversity. Participants will leave with practical ideas to implement in their lives to move towards more linguistically inclusive and equitable learning environments.

Presenters

Pronouns: she, her, hers Twitter: @MaddieShellgren As the Director of Online Engagement, Madeline (Maddie) Shellgren serves as the lead innovator, designer, and project manager of the OLC's portfolio of online engagement opportunities. Known for her love of storytelling, play, and all things gameful, Maddie thrives on facilitating and designing meaningful ways for people to connect, learn, and grow together. Within the OLC, she has served on steering and operations committees for several of the organization’s conferences (including as Technology Test Kitchen and Innovation Studio lead, as well as Engagement Co-Chair) and has had the distinct honor of being the mastermind behind the OLC Escape Rooms. She looks forward to continuing supporting OLC community building efforts, is committed to sustainable, equitable, and anti-oppressive ecologies within education, and is genuinely excited to leverage her interdisciplinary scholarly and professional backgrounds as she helps lead the OLC towards truly innovative and transformative models for what’s possible for online and digital engagement. Maddie joins the OLC from Michigan State University (MSU), where she has served as the lead on numerous student success initiatives related to instructional design and technology, accessibility, and equity and inclusion. Over the past eleven years, Maddie has dedicated her professional life to teaching and learning related initiatives and has strategically sought out opportunities that give her a multi-dimensional perspective on teaching and learning, including working as a Standardized Patient training medical students, serving as Program Director for Teaching Assistant development, taking lead on a number of cross-institutional educator onboarding and professional development projects, and teaching across online and face-to-face contexts. She most recently worked as an Assistant Rowing Coach for the MSU Varsity Women’s Rowing Program. There she was given the opportunity to help redesign a community from the bottom up, story the team's new journey together in fun and multimodal ways, lead in the co-construction of community expectations and norms, help ensure alignment across a variety of stakeholders and initiatives, and develop and operationalize strategic structures for long-term sustainability (such as entirely new social media, marketing, communications, and content management strategies). She had the privilege of seeing the impact of her human-centered and equity-oriented approach each and every day as the team reimagined what it meant to be a Spartan on the MSU Rowing Team. With her move to the OLC, she will continue on as a volunteer coach, still supporting these efforts and the team, and is excited to get back on the water.

Extended Abstract

At this point, topics related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Advocacy (shorthanded I.D.E.A.) are regular parts of conferences. Though by no means sufficient yet, attendees at conferences like OLC Innovate can expect a commitment to and therefore presentations on I.D.E.A. That said, often left out of the conversation is language itself and linguistic diversity. What is fascinating about this fact is that language is such an important part of our everyday lives. Whether it is using a particular pitch or word to identify with a specific gender, pronouncing the “ll” in Spanish in a particular way to identify with a specific region of Spain, or framing stories with a specific structure to identify with working class culture, humans use language every day to express who they are, who they want to be, and where they come from. This also means, however, that as language users, we go about the world with a number of language-based intuitions and an entire language system that we rarely take the time to question. Like other identities and characteristics, we carry with us a myriad of language stereotypes, some of which are obvious to us, but many which we hold without recognition.

This session will begin with an overview of the importance of this topic, particularly situating it in a conversation of teaching and learning. We will review fascinating research showing the link between linguistic discrimination and bias and educational outcomes. We will also discuss struggles and strategies related to this topic within online and digital environments. Along the way, participants will be asked to participate in a series of language-related activities, designed to get them questioning their language-based biases and increase their understanding and awareness of linguistic diversity. A major goal of the session is to provide educators (administrators, teachers, instructional designers, and the like) with practical ideas they can implement in their lives to move towards more linguistically inclusive and equitable learning environments. These will range across the learning space and include moments of learning / artifacts such as the syllabus, learning management systems, classroom discussion, and assessment, among others. Together, we will work to understand the ways in which our current working and learning environments are not linguistically inclusive nor equitable. We will question our own language-based assumptions and biases. And we will learn some of what it takes to commit to a linguistically inclusive and equitable future.