Press Play to Improve Access and Inclusivity

The 2019–2020 BCcampus Educational Technology Fellows, Sarah Van Borek and Derek Turner, are investigating ways to overcome barriers to access and inclusivity through innovative applications of current technology.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

Part of our mandate at BCcampus is to seek out and enable effective pedagogical approaches to learning and teaching, and one of the ways we achieve this is by funding research into tools and ideas that support innovative pedagogical use of education technology. This past spring, we announced our Educational Technology Fellows program. From the proposals submitted, we selected Sarah Van Borek and Derek Turner as our Ed Tech Fellows for 2019–2020.

“One of our primary goals for the Fellows program is to enable teaching faculty to investigate pedagogical challenges and technology-based solutions,” shared Leva Lee, Manager, Learning and Teaching at BCcampus. “We are eager to see what Sarah and Derek will discover through their interesting research topics, so we can share their results throughout the province and around the globe.”      

Incorporating narrative-based media into classroom environments

Sarah Van Borek, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at Rhodes University, South Africa, as well as an instructor in the Faculty of Culture and Community at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, is investigating a pair of interesting ideas: 1) the use of creative narrative-based media — specifically videos and podcasts — to overcome barriers to inclusive and equal education in online and blended learning models, and 2) the potential for relational pedagogical approaches to support diverse, inclusive, and equal online and blended learning environments.

“I like to think of research, creative production, and teaching and learning as collaborative experiences, bringing people together in ways that go beyond what’s possible as a faculty member,” said Sarah. “For my project, I’ll be working with up to four different faculty members and their students to shape the research and add their voices to some of the outputs. The fellowship platform is a great opportunity to put that into practice, enabling me to collaborate with people in ways I wouldn’t normally get to.”

Virtual reality (VR) field trips

Derek Turner, a faculty member at Douglas College in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, is investigating how new and existing technology platforms can be used for virtual reality (VR) field trips, bringing these experiential opportunities to learners who haven’t traditionally been able to make full use of lessons outside of the classroom.

“We began our research with a focus on the educational technology aspect of VR, investigating the various technologies available for the students,” said Derek. “But the main revelation we’ve discovered is that field trips are about access — there are many students who can’t benefit from the experiential learning of a traditional field trip because they’re not able to attend for a variety of reasons, such as family, work, or financial considerations. By increasing awareness of and access to VR experiences, these students can extend their learning in natural sciences beyond the traditional classroom.”

Watch for upcoming posts from Derek and Sarah, sharing their methodologies, assumptions, findings, and recommendations.

Notable quotes:

“VR field trips are not meant to replace traditional field trips, but to offer more accessible alternatives for students who are not able to participate, and to bring students to remote locations beyond the reach of most field trips … The results of this project will likely not be that one type of technology is better than another, but rather that some technologies are better suited for certain types of learning.”—Derek Turner, Douglas College and BCcampus Ed Tech Fellow

“Narrative-based media tools harness the strengths of storytelling in teaching and learning, as a medium that allows for diverse ways of knowing and being in a learning environment that can further support notions of inclusivity and access.”—Sarah Van Borek, Emily Carr University of Art + Design and BCcampus Ed Tech Fellow

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