Reflections

This was an eye-opening project.  Although, I often train adults, this project allowed me to monitor myself, my design analysis and implementation methods and my subsequent evaluations so that I have become more aware of my strengths and my shortcomings.  I now have some guidelines for how to improve my instructional design and my actual real life instruction as well.

 

I found at the end that all of my planned activities were not attainable within the parameters of time available.  But I added activities that took their place.  

Activities

I was able to find opportunities to create awareness via instruction on several occasions these past several months.  

I co-taught a 30-minute awareness training at a faculty orientation with my colleague Scott Kupferman.  It was a last-minute request so my presentation was fairly vanilla.  I passed out my AT Lab brochures to the new faculty and have had a few phone calls from faculty looking for further training.  I believe my brochures are visually appealing and welcoming which is why I got a good response.  

I taught faculty at a professional development event.  We played Barrier University at two round-table fifteen-minute sessions.  Since they were small groups, I was able to take feedback from the players verbally.  Most were happy and interested in the problems and solutions presented.  Since most of the examples of barriers involved faculty in a positive or negative way, the players were very interested in the solutions presented.  Medina states that subjects that are closely related to one's passion engage learners' attention.  (2014)  I had one faculty member who clammed up and seemed unhappy with the game.  Unfortunately, I was not able to garner any feedback from her.  

During the summer I was able to present a lightening talk at the IT driven event called CU Tech Connect.  I used a Pecha Kucha styled slide show with simple graphic slides for  dramatic effect.  I used storytelling to bring home my points.  It went quite well and garnered positive comments as well as a couple of invitations to speak at other campuses.

In addition to the round tables with faculty, I played Barrier University with the UCCS OIT department, with the Disability Services Office, with other colleagues, and with the fellow Assistive Technologists at other universities.  These gaming events went quite well and I was able to collect a significant amount of feedback.  As a result, I intend to make several modifications to the game and create a digital version as well as a packaged board game to distribute to other organizations.  I believe the interactivity and the fact that the players actually suggested solutions to some of the barriers made everyone learn more.  (Stolovitch, et. al. 2011)

Instead of creating instructional training videos this semester, I encouraged my student workers to do some.  They created three but I won't claim them because the production truly belongs to them. 

I was able to make some changes to our website but was interrupted because of the web developers schedule to change templates.  They do not want me to put any more time into altering the old style web pages.  When they are ready to upgrade my site, we will work together to make it friendlier and to house more instructional resources for faculty.  I do feel that the changes I made were helpful in reducing cognitive load of the page and categorizing the content into subsets making it more accessible.

 

My printed learning aid (infographic) for creating accessible documents proved to be a success in that it brought questions regarding the numbers of students with disabilities at our university.  It seemed to surprise faculty without frightening them.  The analytics included were the most effective for instigating questions.  

Measuring Results

Physical sticky notes proved to be the most fruitful in garnering feedback.  I passed them out towards the end of many activities and received suggestions as well as feedback.  Both were welcome.  Since then, I have learned a variation on the sticky note feedback.  You pass out note cards with the word "stars" on one side and the word "wishes" on the other.   Learners can put down positive feedback on the stars side and suggestions for improvement on the wishes side.  Then they pass them in at the end of the class or workshop.  I can't wait to try this next time.  

I surveyed the Disability Services Office personnel individually to ask about and evidence that any of my efforts made a difference.  They all incorporated my AT Lab brochure into their presentations to other departments and the colleges as well as including them in their intake packages for students.  They stated that faculty and staff often ask about technology and that the brochure satisfied that need.  The director has requested that I lend her the Barrier University game for two events so far.  She considers it an effective way of getting difficult messages across to faculty. 

The web developers have become more pro-active in their accessibility efforts.  They request my advice on contrast and navigability issues on the website.  The IT department bring up accessibility without my prompting regularly.  I can just sit back and smile.  Although I can't claim that these changes are all due to my influence, it does seem that my efforts have helped the process to a certain degree.  The CU System OIT people have given me kudos publicly for my accessibility efforts and consider me an influence.  One of the prominent IT managers has sent his staff to WebAIM for accessibility training based on my suggestion.  

I don't know how many faculty members contact me for training.  I have noticed an increase in that number but I don't keep an accurate count.  I have also received more than the usual number of invitations for training, both one on one and in groups.  

Interestingly enough, I have had two requests for private training on assistive technology for staff members with disabilities.  This is rare and I welcome it.  There is no one else on campus that is assigned to help anyone with these types of accommodations and I am happy to help.  

Next Steps

My evaluations were not thorough enough. I should have taken more surveys before individual training events took place. Part of my hesitancy was that I didn’t have an accessible survey mechanism that was also anonymous. Before my next training event, I plan to find/create that mechanism.

I am very happy that my game is so popular and seems to be so effective.  I will be using this tool extensively in the future and plan to distribute it widely. Part of my improvement initiative for this game is to make an accessible, digital version.

Although my Pecha Kucha lightning speech was well received, I think that I could do a better job. My next step will be to record myself for my own review. Those short speeches must be delivered close to perfectly in order for them to be truly effective.

Both of my printed documents were used in ways for which they were not initially intended. I did not realize the printed page was so desirable. I plan to make a separate brochure addressing just the services I offer for staff and faculty.  I will split my infographic learning aid into two documents, one for analytics, and the other for specific instructions on how to create an accessible document. I also plan to enlarge it and hang it up as a poster.

I have now been an employee at UCCS for four years. I have encountered considerable pushback to my individual mission of creating an accessible environment in this institution.  This project has revitalized my hope!  I now realize that I can make a significant difference with or without support from leadership.  My eyes have opened to new methods of progressing.  I can see where and how I can effect change.  I can see where I have fallen short. 

I will work towards incorporating storytelling, interactive events, visual printed materials along with a welcoming and positive attitude in all that I produce.  I will evaluate more consistently and continue along the path I started with this project. 

References

Medina, J. (2014). Brain rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home and school. Seattle: Pear Press. 

Stolovitch, H. D., Keeps, E. J., & Rosenberg, M. J. (2011). Telling aint training. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.