Options for Perception, Language, and Symbols
Providing options for perception empowers students to make choices for themselves to best meet their needs. These can be alternatives such as articles, podcasts, and videos that convey the same content. When it comes to text, choice alternatives can include controlling text size and colour contrast, and speech-to-text for concurrent read-along.
Providing options that help students decode and clarify language and symbols is a way of reducing barriers in our learning environments. These might include glossaries, links to reference sheets, clues, diagrams, and links to formulas. Academic terms are a common barrier to learning in higher education. However, often these terms are linked to concepts and outcomes integral to courses. In this case, providing resources to help students understand specialized language could be critical to making content accessible. In addition to glossaries and decreasing jargon, encouraging translations for texts is a great way to build pathways to comprehension.
In this video, educators explore how language can create barriers.
How Barriers Manifest in Language
>> Thanks, Ravinder. And thanks everyone for participating.
I think so far, what I'm taking away from our time together, our learning community, is that each of us use language with intentionality. We use it to engage our learners. We use it ourselves to represent the information in an accessible way. And we also use it to teach students that language is a tool; a tool that they can use to create-- create the world around them and to make sense of the world around them.
What we haven't talked about just yet, though, is why we are so concerned with the language that we use; with this so-called academic language. Some of the academic language that we use in the classroom can really disengage learners. That's one thing.
The second thing, it throws learners into sort of a-- an emotional roller coaster to the extent that they do disengage. Now, we then see academic language being filtered across academia in these sort of brush strokes. We see it in the syllabi that we distribute to students and think about the tone. You know, what do we sound like in our Course Section Information-- our CSIs; the reading list that we compile; who's actually being featured on the reading list and what kind of language do they use? The exemplars of writing that we provide to students. Again, they give students the impression that you have to write this way in order to be taken seriously. And the types of conversations that we then have in the classroom, again, the way that we lecture, the way that we present our ideas signals to students that I have to sound like that in order to be heard and seen in the classroom. So again, it just kind of perpetuates itself. >> Explored that.
What we'd like to do next is take a look at how folks are already dismantling the system. So there-- chances are you're already aware of this and, you know, using effective practices to make your message clear to your learners. So we want to really take a look at those practices and, and build on them and learn from each other. So in terms of engaging with the next-- what people have done to successfully communicate with their learners, shared screen, used cursor to point things out visually while saying them verbally and then checked in, confirmed that they understood. Wonderful. So approaching this from a multi-directional point of view. Excellent. Um, oh, this is interesting. Cardboard cut-out model so learners could visualize 3D concepts. Wonderful. Scaffolding material with opportunities for questions and risk-free activities. Excellent. Um, just moving again to the third option. Looking at technology and language, asking students to rephrase. That's brilliant. So that asks them to, you know, phrase or speak back, reflect back what it is that they've understood. Brilliant. Trailers. Oh yes. To get learners excited about the course. So ways of previewing the information to, to stimulate their, their interest. That's excellent.
How Barriers Manifest in Language - Runtime 4:05 min
Myth: If all the barriers were gone so would an important challenge of learning.