The push for extensive online teaching and learning had begun well before the COVID pandemic and the online pivot, but the last three years have dramatically intensified the reflection around what Education 4.0 might look like in the post-secondary. Consensus appears to privilege hybrid and blended learning as the format which is most likely to optimally meet the needs of learners in coming decades. Lessons from the three years of pandemic disruption have been rich and nuanced in this respect. Within this phenomenal momentum of pedagogical creativity and innovation, however, the situation in relation to accessibility and full inclusion of all diverse learners has been ambivalent, and the experiences of diverse students have been contradictory. This study showcases the qualitative analysis of phenomenological data collected among accessibility and inclusion specialists within higher education – faculty and support staff - regarding the challenges and opportunities encountered during these transformative three years. The theoretical paradigm within which this data is showcased and analyzed is interpretivist, but the work also acknowledges preoccupations of critical theory/ critical pedagogy. The discussion that emerges from these findings focus on the ways these pandemic lessons on inclusive teaching and learning can now serve as an exceptional window to proactively frame smart pedagogies of the future that leave out no stakeholders. The final section examines ways to integrate these pandemic lessons to generate sustainable best practices for accessibility and inclusion in transformative blended learning spaces, that succeed in going beyond ad hoc interventions and retrofitting.
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education and Social Work, Thompson Rivers University, British Columbia, Canada
INCLUSION, ACCESSIBILITY, DIVERSE LEARNERS, HIGHER EDUCATION, PANDEMIC OUTCOMES, USER EXPERIENCE