An Important Partnership

It’s no secret that we, in the E-Learning Office, love working with students. Faculty, we love you too, obviously… but you have to admit that working with students is super fun.

Two weeks ago Megan, one of our Instructional Designers, had the opportunity to attend and present at the annual conference for the Atlantic Association of College and University Student Services (AACUSS) held at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

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AACUSS is a wonderful organization that connects college and university Student Affairs professionals in the Atlantic Canada region. The annual conference serves as an opportunity to connect with counterparts at neighbouring institutions and encourage and promote professional and ethical practices in Student Services.

The obvious question at this point is: why is an E-Learning Instructional Designer attending a conference for Student Affairs professionals? Well, that’s a good question.

Those amazing people that work in Student Affairs and Services are the people that keep our students at the centre of what we do. As an Instructional Designer, it’s so easy to get caught up in the how of teaching that it’s easy to forget the why and the who of what we do. By making efforts to remain current in the issues facing the students on our campuses, we’re doing our best to ensure the courses we work on are designed with student learning at the centre.

The AACUSS conference kicked off with a pre-conference about assessment. Now, we spend a lot of time in the ELO thinking about assessment. This pre-conference workshop provided a great opportunity to reconsider our program assessment processes and set some new targets for our programs and services.

The conference schedule offered several concurrent sessions to learn more about programs and services at other institutions, current research in Student Affairs, and issues and trends in Student Services in Higher Education. Megan co-facilitated a session on Universal Design for Learning that explored UDL as a framework for designing programs and services to facilitate student success. The resources from the workshop can be viewed at this link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0By6oWloIi9_jQVVrZExFSmtxSG8

The highlight of this conference was receiving an AACUSS Special Project Grant, which is a grant awarded to members to develop new programs or services related to issues in student services. In collaboration with Accessibility Services in UPEI Student Affairs, we applied for a grant to develop a series of OERs on the topic of Universal Design for Learning. With these OERs, we intend on building a training program for staff and faculty that can be used at UPEI and by our colleagues across the region.

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Megan with Cathy Rose, Coordinator of Accessibility Services, UPEI and Sara Rothman, AACUSS Past President.

Finally, as a result of attending this conference, we are entering a new partnership with UPEI Student Affairs to develop a new workshop series for faculty on student-centred course design. We are looking forward to updating you on this series as it is developed. We are hoping to pilot some of the workshops this fall and are excited to get your feedback!

There is no question that our connection with UPEI Student Affairs is an important one. Our attendance at the AACUSS annual conference is just one of the things to do to make an effort to remain up to date on the current issues facing our campuses. We are truly grateful for the opportunity to remain connected with our students through our relationships and collaborations with student affairs professionals at UPEI

To all of our colleagues across campus who are busy advising, recruiting, planning programs, training student leaders, debriefing, reflecting, and supporting: thank you for all of the work you do to to create a safe and supportive learning environment for our students!