Many faculty ask when they should begin implementing DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusivity) in our course development? My answer is “NOW,” and I always advise that they consider one more element—Accessibility. In other words, let’s use IDEA—Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility—instead of DEI.
IDEA (this term was created by Meredith Ehrenberg, a member of the UCI IT Accessibility Group), means designing or teaching courses tailored to meet the needs of educationally disadvantaged students, developing effective strategies for the educational advancement of students in various under-represented groups, and ensuring that course materials and content are accessible to meet the needs of all learners. Unfortunately, the dataclearly demonstrates that higher education is not currently designed with the principles of IDEA in mind, and many students’ needs are not being met and courses have not been designed to be accessible for all.
To promote IDEA in higher education, faculty can adopt a growth mindset approach to learning more about their students. For instance, practicing cultural humility can bolster student academic performance because when faculty learn about their student’s culture, they can then communicate, offer support/help, and share course content with students at the micro, mezzo, and macro level. In other words, intentional or unintentional faculty actions can restrict or empower the students’ success in their education.
Being flexible, transparent, explicit, and keeping open lines of communication are the main elements for intentional development of IDEA in the classroom. All people are included, respected, and treated as equals. When we invite someone to a party, ask them to pick their DJ, and they can go dancing freestyle.
Lastly, I want to acknowledge that the principles of IDEA have a long way to go and are a grassroots movement. When we all join in and make a committed effort to promote IDEA, we will improve ourselves and our approach. If you have not started to think about this topic, I want to introduce the articles below for you:
- Inclusive ADDIE: Initial Considerations for DEI Pedagogy by Chris Gamrat, Sonia Tiwari, and Saliha Ozkan Bekiroglu, Thursday, March 10, 2022, EDUCAUSE REVIEW.
- Refocusing on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion During the Pandemic and Beyond: Lessons from a Community of Practice by Taffye Benson Clayton, January 13, 2021, American Council on Education.
About the Author:
Fanny Tsai, M.S.
Instructional Designer, Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (DTEI)
Fanny Tsai has over ten years of experience promoting teaching excellence in higher education. As an instructional designer at the Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation, she supports faculty in designing courses and content for various teaching modes with backward design and learning technologies. UCI faculty appreciate her help in creating a mastery learning path to guide students’ learning. In addition, Fanny is passionate about inclusive teaching. She devotes diligence to facilitating faculty using inclusive technologies to design an accessible learning environment for all students. Fanny joined DTEI in September 2019 after nine years of service as an instructional technology designer at SDSU. She has a B.A. degree in Multimedia/Programing and an M.S. degree in Instructional Technology.