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How Efficacy Reports Can Help Differentiate Your Learning Products and Platforms.

6 Ways to Make Your Learning Products More Inclusive

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen digital learning explode. What was once seen as a “good to have” supplementary component of learning became a “must-have”’ integral part of students’, instructors’, and parents’ lives. Physical classrooms had to be shut down and they were replaced by digital ones.

As we prepare students to go back to physical classrooms and hybrid learning modes, we must not forget the lessons that the pandemic taught us. While it helped digital learning gain a prominent position in our ecosystem, it also exposed the underlying inequity in our society and the learning infrastructure.

The fruits of virtual learning weren’t enjoyed equally by students and we realized how badly we needed to close the digital divide and plug the gaps within our system.

While the government and private organizations across the globe continue to work on the underlying fundamental issues, there are steps that the edtech providers and companies can take in order to ensure that the products that they create are more inclusive and can be accessed relatively easily by students across the spectrum to continue learning and improving their outcomes.

Below are some recommendations that can help the companies get to those goals.

 

1. Involve diverse stakeholders during product conceptualization and testing

Ensure that your product development and conceptualization team has representation from various quarters. It is crucial to have diverse voices in the room where these decisions are being made. It will ensure that your product is conceptualized right and doesn’t suffer from blind spots and implicit assumptions.

Look within your company and outside of it to find such voices. Diversity isn’t restricted to color. Look for people of different age groups, backgrounds, and orientations to get in some rich perspectives as you go about designing your product. You will be surprised by the number of insights that you’ll gather. We all see the world very differently and it is this difference that will help our students relate to the products that they use for learning.

 

2. Question all your assumptions

Let me give you an example. We often say things like “Remember when you visited Disneyland? (or any popular tourist destination), you’ll relate to it” or “If you aren’t saving enough, you’re doing it wrong”. The problem with these statements is that they are loaded with assumptions. You’re assuming that everyone has been to Disneyland or that their parents earn enough money to provide for them and then save the remaining. Well, guess what? That may not be true.

There are parents who barely earn enough to put food on the table. There are families who’ve never ventured out of their state, leave alone to that popular tourist destination. If your content has any of these assumptions, not only will it be non-inclusive, worse, it will make the marginalized students feel a sense of shame and embarrassment. Strip your product of them and provide context to help everyone relate to those (more on this later).

 

3. Provide offline access to your digital products

Even today, thousands of students don’t have reliable internet access. They may be able to access your digital content at school, but won’t be able to do that when they head back home. One way to help them is by providing offline access to your content so that they can learn anytime and anywhere to improve their learning outcomes. In addition, make sure that your products and content can be accessed easily in areas with poor unpredictable internet connections.

 

4. Make data-driven product decisions

Objective results can help you find your blind spots and wrong assumptions. Invest in learning analytics to get a good understanding of your learners’ behaviors. Don’t just look for trends and patterns, but question them. If you see students from a particular geography are less engaged than others, try to find out the reasons. Data is provided to help you frame great questions rather than answer them. Identify elements that can help your products be more inclusive and accessible.

 

5. Invest in simulations and virtual labs

This is closely related to the first point. Virtual labs and simulations are the best tools to combat assumptions and help provide situational context to students who haven’t been exposed to those contexts. For students who haven’t been to Disneyland, it may be worthwhile to have them go through a digital simulation of what they would find there. Investing in simulations and making them a part of your digital strategy can not only yield great results but also make your products more inclusive.

 

6. Make them accessible

Make your products accessible. This will expand your reach and improve the learning experience for everyone. WCAG guidelines provide a comprehensive set of suggestions that can be incorporated into your products so that they can be used more widely. Not only will this make your product inclusive, but it will also help you meet the purchasing criteria for many governments and regulatory agencies. Accessibility should be thought of while designing the product and not as an afterthought. Doing so can help you save hours of rework.

“Interactive Digital Graphic Novel and Comics”

Great resource types to address prime competencies of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Generally, people think of Graphic novels and Comics as a medium of presenting stories targeted towards users across age groups. This perception has substance, as many classics have been written and rewritten in the comic format, both in the West and in the East. From the age-old Japanese Manga format, to the American superhero story, comics have proven to be an effective tool for bringing literacy to the masses (Frey, Fisher, 3). This is because both graphic novels and comics include a key feature that sets them apart from more traditional forms of reading – illustrations. A written piece’s efficacy can be determined by how relatable it is to the reader. Illustrations – and by association, graphic novels or comics – allow readers to make that connection, without requiring a Master’s degree in the language.

In today’s society, people lead lives that are more intricate than ever before. Race, religion, caste, sexuality, gender, socioeconomic status, and many more factors, are all key parts of the modern reader’s individuality. It would be – and for centuries, has been – wrong to misrepresent these individualities by only showing a single perspective (Smith, L., 11). As the market seeks solutions to overcome issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, interactive graphic novels or comics can be a powerful change agent. Interactive comics can be an invaluable resource that provides connections to the writings of BIPOC, people in the LGBTQIA+ community, people in marginalized groups and differently-abled people, helping learners bring their stories to the world.

As the needs of various marginalized communities grow and change, authors can create interactive experiences bundled with interactions that express to promote understanding around important topics. At this stage in the education industry, there have been some successes brought about by the implementation of graphic novels or comics as resource type

 

1.  Making Reading Inclusive

In the educational world, especially in situations where reading a chapter book can seem too daunting, graphic novels and comics have addressed the needs of a learner regardless of their age. By using a format that can allow the delivery of instruction without the usage of a lot of words, these stories can be made accessible to people who’s level of comprehension of the language is not up to a certain standard. This is beneficial to people who haven’t had the privilege of receiving formal education in some manner, or those who simply do not have an educated support system to guide them. Illustrations have also proven instrumental in promoting a diverse representation of people in minority communities, which challenges the dated idea of a “default” skin color, gender, or religion (Smith, L., 11). This allows the promotion of comprehension in an inclusive manner. By pouring the saved effort from writing fewer words into detailed illustrations, authors and artists can enable learners to more easily visualize perspectives different from their own, without realizing that they are employing a cognitive strategy.

 

2. Promoting R.A.C.E

Contrary to popular belief, the graphic novel or comic format is not limited to emerging readers. This can be seen with the addition of writing prompts at different points in the book, which can be used to assess a reader’s understanding and interpretation of the ideas cited by the author. These ideas can be captured by asking the reader to Restate, Answer, Cite, and Explain. Such writing tasks help in capturing the perspective of the learner, that includes their personal and collective experiences, along with their processes of reflection, inquiry and discovery.

 

3. Improving Vocabulary

Socioeconomic status has been proven to be correlated with vocabulary development in a directly proportional manner (E. Hoff, 74). comics, like any other form of literature, can be a great format to offer vocabulary instruction in several contexts. Readers learn to decode new terms through context clues, in addition with illustrative support. Because of the visual nature of the format, this brings a higher level of comprehension to lower-level readers.

 

So, can your comic content be made accessible?

Yes! The graphic novel and comic format, like many other writing formats, starts from the basics – setting, plot, and character development. As these formats have gotten more and more advanced, the industry has evolved with it to develop structures that can be used to identify different components of a comic strip, and then provide aid through assistive technology. A user typically navigates through a panel (that would traditionally represent a paragraph), consisting of captions, speech bubbles, thought bubbles, and onomatopoeia.

 

Are there any Interactive Digital graphic novel/Comic frameworks that guide inclusion of DEI into comic learning design?

Since graphic novel or comic authoring is a complex topic, the industry has developed multiple frameworks, each to satisfy certain needs, but all failing to provide a full-scope view. Given the flexibility we wish to promote, we suggest a custom framework that may be approached from multiple vantage points and adapted for different educational settings, in distinction to a logic model, which is outcomes-based and focuses on demonstrating impact.

Here is a representation of a Conceptual Comic Learning Design framework:

Figure: Conceptual framework for incorporating DEI into Comic Instruction learning design

To explore how to apply this framework to your next learning resource, feel free to reach out to me at:rishiraj.gera@magicedtech.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/rishirajsinghgera/

 

References:

A Guide To Social-Emotional Learning in 2022

What is Social-Emotional Learning?

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is defined as the process of developing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to manage emotions, achieve individual and collective goals, feel and show compassion for others, establish and maintain relationships, and make good decisions. Just like math and reading, skills such as empathy, teamwork, emotional management, and accountability must be learned and practiced.

According to Byron Sanders, President, and CEO of Big Thought, “an emerging benefit of explicit SEL instruction is that it builds the emotional intelligence and agility that business and industry is starting to name among the most desired workforce skills.” Social-emotional learning doesn’t just end in the classroom; it sets the foundation for a strong work ethic and the ability to understand and connect with others as students embark on their professional journey. By prioritizing the well-being of students, SEL cultivates an educational approach that gives students from all backgrounds the opportunity to create positive habits.

 

Why Do We Need SEL in 2022?

The phrase SEL was coined in the mid-1990s, but it has become more crucial than ever to implement SEL in the classroom. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated feelings of isolation, stress, anxiety, and loss while forcing students all around to pursue learning in an entirely different manner. With no interaction or in-person collaboration, the pandemic has had a negative impact on a student’s or even the teacher’s social and emotional well-being. Social-emotional learning provides a way to support one another during these trying times. Now, more than ever, we recognize the importance of demonstrating empathy and establishing relationships from a distance. Students that participate in an SEL program are better equipped to deal with emotional stress, problem solve, and avoid peer pressure. Schools must make social-emotional learning a priority as it will not only benefit the students, but also the teachers.

 

Ways to Incorporate SEL in Learning

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has established five core competencies for the SEL framework: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Many curriculums are designed to focus on these five areas of competence, but it’s important to practice these in day-to-day life. Below are four simple ways to integrate SEL into your classroom: 

 

1. Start the Day with a Check-In

Check-ins are an excellent way to connect with students on a personal level. Check-ins allow teachers to learn more about their students before focusing on the lesson. By providing students with a check-in such as asking a question at the beginning of class, they have an opportunity to share their experiences and learn about their classmates and themselves. These check-ins can be short but should encourage students to develop empathy for one another and build relationships.

 

2. Encourage Collaboration Among Peers

Working together in a group setting, discussions, practice activities, etc. enables students to understand how to relate and communicate with others. This is a vital component of SEL. Teachers can help nurture these skills through group work. Students will learn how to actively listen, negotiate with others, build leadership skills, ask questions, and identify their strengths and weaknesses to best contribute to the group. It is also important to switch between assigning groups and allowing students to choose their partners.

 

3. Manage Conflict with Peer Mediation

Peer mediation is a problem-solving process in which students involved in a dispute gather in a private, safe, and confidential setting to work out their differences. Teachers ask students to give each side of the story and challenge them to find a common ground and come to an understanding. Continuing to model these behaviors and letting students solve problems among themselves, will steer them to begin doing so without being asked.

 

4. End the Day with a Checkout

Finish the day with a short discussion about how the students felt throughout the day. As a class, discuss what went well and what did not for the day, and set some goals for tomorrow. Students should go home with a positive attitude about the next day.

By embedding SEL activities into the curriculum like the ones listed above, teachers will help to foster a sense of community and belonging in the classroom. This will lead students to develop a social-emotional connection and skills they need. The pandemic took a big toll on the mental health of students. Making sure that students are connected to their peers and have good supportive relationships will go a long way toward helping them cope and get to a mental space where they are ready to learn.

 

Making Certification Exams Accessible For A Leading Assessment Company

What to Expect with WCAG 2.2

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the international community whose mission is to lead the Web to its full potential, is finalizing the new Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). WCAG currently follows the 2.1 guidelines, introduced in 2018. These guidelines define how websites and digital materials can be built so that users of all abilities can access them.

Why are there new guidelines coming out? To keep up with our evolving technologies and to be more inclusive. These new guidelines are aimed at improving accessibility for everyone, but with a keen eye on users with cognitive and learning disabilities, users with low vision, and users with disabilities on mobile devices. WCAG 2.2 is expected to be released in June 2022. The working draft and editors’ draft can be accessed on the W3C website.

So what can you expect when the new guidelines come out? Let’s take a look. Remember, these are still in draft form–nothing is final until the official release.

 

First, it’s important to note what is NOT changing.

The Best Ways to Use Learning Analytics in 2022

The growth of the app and SAAS industry has been fueled by the availability of the internet on personal computers, handheld (mobile), and wearable devices. The emergence of a “digital life” is generating huge amounts of data across various industries, governments, and other areas. These factors have largely been responsible for propelling the growth of the analytics field like never before. Analytics are used to process and interpret data in a way that eases everyday lives.

The emergence of Learning Analytics

Education providers like universities, colleges, and schools have begun to use a variety of online learning and administrative tools and systems. These help improve the effectiveness of course and curriculum delivery and automate processes like library management, enrollments, attendance, etc. The dataset that lives in different systems or formats contains information about learners, learning activities, and learning context. Learner data on courses accessed, library books issued, assignments submitted, or online forum contributions provide a unique opportunity to understand learner behavior in a way that was not possible in the past through manual observation. Since the size of data is often huge, trying to make sense of it manually is simply not feasible.

Learning Analytics is an interdisciplinary field that sits at the intersection of Learning (education research), Analytics (statistics, visualization, data science, AI, ML), and Learner-Centric Design.

A formal definition of analytics as defined in 2011 first LAK conference described below:

“the measurement, collection, analysis, and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs.”

 

How can Learning Analytics help?

Learning Analytics impact several key areas of the learning ecosystem like student success, course recommendation, personalized learning, curriculum & content design, etc. Outlined below are a few ways we can expect to see its application.

NGSS-Aligned Virtual Labs for a Leading K12 Publisher

Reading: Benefits, Skills, and Techniques

“Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place, you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books…”

-from the poem ‘Television’, by Roald Dahl

 

The reading habits of people are changing rapidly or rather, it seems to be waning. The hustle and bustle of daily life have seen people take a lesser interest in reading books. Shorter formats and bite-size social media snippets have dwindled attention spans and a lot of people either face a scarcity of time or focus. In the time one reads a story, they would have watched four videos on a social media site or on an OTT platform. While those are still great platforms to gain knowledge or lessen stress, reading still remains an important aspect of learning.

 

Why is reading important?

The Adaptive Assessment Advantage

Assessments have always played an important role in the educational process. Teachers teach, learners learn, and assessments help measure whether or not learning objectives are being met. Traditional testing employs a one-size-fits-all approach to determining a student’s aptitude and understanding of factual information. Every student who takes the exam sees the same set of questions. Yet, today learners succeed through hands-on, personalized learning experiences. Our world is constantly changing, and the approach regarding assessments needs to change. The solution to this: adaptive assessments.

 

Adaptive Assessment: What Is It?

Adaptive assessments, sometimes referred to as computer adaptive testing (CAT), are tailored specifically to each student by providing a customized set of questions based on their performance on previous items. In adaptive assessments, the test’s difficulty adapts to the student’s performance. For example, if the student answers the question correctly, the next question will be more difficult. If the student gets the question wrong, the next question will be easier. Unlike traditional assessments, the number of correct answers and the difficulty of those questions assist in calculating the score.

Adaptive assessments are challenging the way of traditional thinking regarding how to measure student achievement. Geoff Masters, Chief Executive of the Australian Council for Educational Research, writes that the future of learning will be based on “identifying and responding to individual progress and learning needs, rather than on traditional group-based solutions.” As schools seek to better personalize learning, they should consider turning towards adaptive assessments, as they provide many advantages over traditional tests.

 

5 Benefits of Adaptive Assessments

 

1. Shorter Tests

Research has shown that adaptive assessments can reduce test time by 50% or more. Adaptive assessments quickly narrow in on the actual skill level of the test taker. As a result, the assessment delivers a wide range of questions near the student’s ability level, reducing the number of questions that a student must answer. This allows for the test to be completed in a shorter amount of time, without sacrificing reliability or accuracy. The reduction in testing time can be better used for increased instructional and learning time.

 

2. Quicker Feedback

Adaptive assessments immediately provide results to students and teachers. The speed of feedback means that teachers can see how the class is performing right away and differentiate instruction. Real-time data insights allow for instruction adjustments based on current events rather than when it is too late to make a difference. Teachers benefit by spending more time acting on the results rather than on the analysis. This will play a critical role in providing educators with the information needed to improve learning outcomes in the classroom.

 

3. Positive Testing Experience

Students in the same year of school are at very different points in learning. There may be students who know even more than the answers to the questions, but traditional testing does not allow them to showcase such knowledge. On the other hand, there may be students who answered some questions wrong but could demonstrate what they know with slightly easier questions if given a chance. Adaptive tests tailor questions to each student’s knowledge and abilities, so they don’t need to struggle with questions that are too hard or waste time on questions that are too easy. Students at all levels will be encouraged to try harder if they have a better test-taking experience if the test is challenging but not overwhelming.

 

4. Test Security

Test security is vastly improved because no two students receive the same test. Adaptive assessments pull questions from a large test bank consisting of hundreds of questions. For that reason, each student receives a unique combination of questions. This pattern significantly reduces the opportunity to share answers as compared to a typical exam in which students receive the same questions in the same order.

 

5. Improved Accuracy

Students are graded on a scale that accounts for the difficulty of questions answered, as each student is asked a different set of questions. In traditional testing, regardless of the question’s complexity, everyone gets a point for a correct answer. However, adaptive assessments give more weight to harder questions than easier questions. This way of scoring provides instructors with a more accrual picture of a student’s ability level.

Now more than ever, it is crucial for schools to meet every student’s learning needs, especially since school closures during COVID-19 contributed to a widening achievement gap. For students, adaptive assessments provide questions that are appropriate for their abilities, resulting in a positive testing experience and tailored instruction needed to improve learning based on results. For teachers, adaptive tests give the information needed to effectively and efficiently personalize teaching. Many vendors offer adaptive learning and assessment technologies to schools; however, it’s important to make sure that the technology contributes to the overall goal of impacting student achievement at every level. Adaptive assessments can be an invaluable tool in the classroom and will no doubt drive the future of learning.