Thank you to everyone who attended the 2018 Symposium! We hope that you enjoyed yourselves and left with plenty of new ideas and tools to use in your online instruction.
This year’s theme, seeing the forest and the trees, was all about how difference and individuality are important to the bigger picture. To help shed light on the topic, we invited online students to talk about individual experiences and perspectives from their side of the screen. Additionally, the overview of the Ally software campus pilot program offered insight into how universal and accessible design benefits both individuals and the group as a whole.
Expanding on the concept of difference being beneficial, keynote speaker Mike Hess offered a new perspective on why it’s good to consider leaving your sense of sight behind on occasion (hint: people are sometimes led astray by their senses, and removing one can help you consider things in different ways). And, by including individuals who are different, organizations open the door to a wider pool of talent who bring new skill sets that can benefit us all.
So, what might one take away from these presentations and discussions? In higher education, we have the opportunity to not only embrace the concept of beneficial difference from an organizational perspective, but also from the community and student side. As educators, we have to help individuals with a wide variety of differences grow and develop so that they are in a better position to share their perspectives (and appreciate those of others) as they follow their individual paths beyond our campus. When we design and deliver courses and programs that support this outlook, we create a stronger society and a better world.
Of course, this is just one point of view! What did you discuss and contemplate in regard to this year’s theme? How do you see the positive impacts of difference in your work and lives? We would love for you to share your favorite takeaways – please leave them in the comments section below!