Universal Design in Application

Kimiya Sohrab Maghzi

I believe in the importance of education and training for all individuals, and therefore my essential core principles that guide my practice as an educator are justice, compassion, and collaboration. Additionally, since I am the child of immigrants who came to this country to escape religious persecution, I have a strong commitment to justice, equity, the promotion of unity, the abandonment of all types of prejudice, and the oneness of humanity. Thus, I have dedicated my studies and my teaching to eliminating oppressive practices and supporting diversity including race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, dis/abilities, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. I actualize my commitment to social justice through my teaching. I am committed to empowering students to think critically about their world and examine the positive and negative forces influencing their community and social inequalities within it. I deliberately teach students to move outside of their prior modes of thought through reflective assignments and class discussions. The teaching pedagogies that help me achieve this are by using contemplative and transformative teaching practices as well as positive psychology.

Mikela Bjork

Empathic listening and sharing of personal narratives are qualities that I believe to be paramount to effective and authentic (teacher) education. I am curious to know what your experiences are/were growing up; what challenges did you face and how do those challenges inform your identity as an educator/student/thinker?

My pedagogy centers around social justice and self-reflexivity, empowering students with the skill-set to recognize their own social location in their assumptions about their students’ (dis)abilities. As a teacher of pre and in-service special education teachers, I see my job as multifaceted; it is equally as important for my students to learn about best practices, special education policy, and universal design for learning, just as much as it is important for them to engage in self-reflexive practices, willing to remain alert to their own biases and privileges that inform their every day interactions with their students and colleagues.

I am driven by a constant desire to explore, question and unpack identity formation, through a sociological and anthropological lens, with a specific interest in how our past narratives and identities inform our present narratives and identities and how can these narratives, past and present, inform/ engage/ inspire our students?

Project Summary

We would like to incorporate immersive technology in our Dis/Ability and Special Education courses. In particular, our grant will focus on utilizing Google Earth Street View and 360 imagery to consider the accessibility of spaces with the ultimate vision of Universal Design. Universal Design is a topic we cover in depth during EDSP 610 Foundations of (Dis)ability and Special Education. The term Universal Design was initially coined by architect Ron Mace who believed that design was an integral to having increasingly accessible spaces, atmospheres, and products (cite). Our grant proposal will include integrating virtual technology into our classroom learning by using hands-on tools to explore existing spaces and environments that affect student life and learning.

Students will analyze the graphics of spaces at the University of Redlands and/or graphics of spaces at student selected school sites. First, students will begin by using Google Earth’s top down view to explore the physical spaces of schools and educational settings while paying close attention to the accessibility of the entrances and exits when considering the needs of all students. The Google Earth software will give students an idea of the environment and layout of the schools in which they will be teaching or attending. If available to the students, they can secure the original blueprints of the buildings on campus to further examine the space. Student teachers will use the Google Earth technology to consider the spaces that their learners will need in order to grow and develop. Accessible design for students with (dis)abilities will be at the forefront of this endeavor.

Second, students will go to the location of the site that they have chosen and take 360 photos with Theta V. while considering the location, mobility paths, and obstructions to mobility. Students will take photos of school entrances, location, environment, and an aerial view to familiarize themselves with the school and community design. Finally, students will upload to Google Street View their photos of the chosen site and use the Google Street view technology to connect the points so that they can create a virtual walkthrough of the space which they have chosen. Students will then present these walkthroughs to the class in a gallery walk format.

While designing the curriculum for the course there will be a collaboration between the instructors, while only one instructor may be assigned to the course at a time. Therefore, Dr. Mikela Bjork will teach EDSP 610 in spring of 2019, and Dr. Kimiya Sohrab Maghzi will teach EDSP 610 in the spring of 2020.

Funding for this Faculty Technology Grant will extend beyond the 2018-2019 school year. We will train faculty in our department to use these the immersive technologies purchased enabling the faculty in the School of Education to begin brainstorming potential applications to the variety of courses taught throughout the School of Education.