Reimagining How to Approach Instructional Design Through a Lens of Inclusion: A #SquadGoalsNetwork Reflection from Patrice Torcivia

Reimagining How to Approach Instructional Design Through a Lens of Inclusion: A #SquadGoalsNetwork Reflection from Patrice Torcivia

A reflection by Patrice Torcivia on the power of personal learning networks.

ACCESS – Does regular access to other individuals from other institutions and institutional perspectives challenge your definition of access and what it means? If so, how?

Yes, without question. Each of our institutions has a unique context and culture. Talking with people across different situations enables us to see the world through the eyes of another, and learn from one another. Access can mean so many different things ranging from access to education (in many places women don’t have this access), to technology (both hardware and internet), time, cultural capital, finances or a disability. Frequently we forgeot there are issues of access in rural parts of the US, or that students at our own universities might be living in their car or choosing between a textbook or eating. Having a personal learning network that spans the globe has enabled me to learn about access in new ways, allowed me to see the range of ways access can be defined, and reimagine how to approach instructional design first through a lens of inclusion, rather than as afterthought.

FACULTY SATISFACTION – How has your participation in the PLN benefitted faculty and colleagues at your home institution?

My PLN has enabled me to help faculty and colleagues connect with people at other universities that have resulted in collaborations on courses and research, as well as knowledge and expertise that has helped us enhance our work. I’ve been able to bring in ‘guest’ speakers via Zoom who have advised on topics such as accessibility, design thinking, online strategy, remote working and learning object repositories. A faculty member wanted to incorporate a tool into a MOOC we were working on and we didn’t have the expertise or resources to build it. Through my PLN I was able to connect with someone who had developed a similar tool and shared it with us. This had a substantial impact on the student experience in this course. Our team had been working internally to design a learning object repository. I found one online, and thanks for my PLN, knew the developer and was able to make a connection that resulted in collaborating on a pilot. This could have wide ranging implications on access both within and outside the university.  Most of all my PLN brings me joy, allows me to explore and engage in meaningful ways, and provides a support system when I need it most, which results in me being more productive and balanced.

LEARNING EFFECTIVENESS – When you reflect on your work, how has meeting and learning from individuals from other institutions and institutional perspectives helped you to clarify or re-define what it means for learning to be effective?

One of the things I love most about my personal learning network is the opportunity to hear differing insights, opinions and ideas. It allows me to be challenged and learn in a way I couldn’t talking to only people within my institution or team. Students come to us, each with a unique background and set of goals. There is no one size fits all definition of ‘effective’ learning. Through my interactions with my personal learning network, I’ve broken down, built and rebuilt my personal definition of what a deep, meaningful learning experience might look like. Thanks to so many thoughtful discussions both on social media and at conferences this is an iterative process and I am continually learning.

SCALE – Is the PLN scalable and/or replicable by others at other institutions/organizations? If so, how? What challenges do you encounter?

Yes, a personal learning network is scalable by others. One way is by mentoring-is there someone at your organization who is new to the field? In what ways can you help them build their network and guide them in the steps. Take a minute to really listen to their story, help them make connections and suggest broader ways such as a Twitter chat or Vconnecting. At a larger scale we might think of collaboratives or grass roots across university community groups as a scaled version. In both cases the greatest challenge is always time. Protecting time on your calendar for professional development, reflection, and simply having conversations can be difficult. It is important for supervisors/directors/mentors to help people manage their time and prioritize time for personal growth and reflection. In the end it will lead to teams that thrive and are more productive.

STUDENT SATISFACTION – Do you feel that your involvement and/or collaboration with the PLN has helped you create better student experiences at at your institution?

Yes, everything we do is for the benefit of the student. Students benefit from the new knowledge I’ve gained across a range of topics: learning design, faculty development, ways to incorporate student voice, and how to gain a deeper understanding of the student experience. In some cases it might help us learn from someone else’s experience and enhance a student experience quicker, or in ways we might otherwise not have. It has helped me get grants to do work that benefits students. Ultimately, my involvement impacts both their inside and outside the classroom experiences, and has helped me learn new approaches and ways of thinking I otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to.

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