TRANSCRIPT: DeakinDesign Principle: Inclusive
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Dr Katherine Barrand: All right, my name is Katherine Barrand and I’m the Course director of the Bachelor of International Studies at Deakin University. So fundamentally being inclusive means providing equitable access to opportunities for a Bachelor of International Studies Students international experiences form part of their core curriculum. Prior to covid-related travel restrictions these international experiences often to place overseas in the form of internships study tours and student exchanges. These travel restrictions forced us to reframe what we consider to be international experience and what it means for our students to graduate as international practitioners. We’ve expanded our definition of international experience to emphasise our internationalisation at home capabilities. We found this shift towards inclusivity was a key starting point for us to start to develop, deliver and assess quality educational opportunities for students to industry both internationally and domestically.
I champion inclusivity as a cornerstone of all programs that I design and facilitate at Deakin. This starts with our messaging to first-year students, where the goal of our team is to build student awareness of opportunities and ensure that our students are prepared to undertake them at the appropriate time in their degrees. When I design new international programs inclusively is a very important factor. Our Japanese politics, society and culture immersion program has been running at Deakin since 2014 and there’s a three-week intensive program based at Mushashi University in Tokyo. When we first arrive in Japan, we travelled directly to Hiroshima where we hear survivor testimony, tour the Peace Museum, the Avon dome and visit ground zero. But then spend some time at Nii-jima before heading up to Tokyo to settle into our program at Mushashi University. Our program is a mixture of lectures, Japanese language classes, cultural activities, site visits and group activities shared with Mushashi students. During the travel restrictions of 2020 and 2021 we moved this program to be delivered wholly online. This enables us to include Deakin’s students located across four different Australian states and globally in Europe and North America. Mushashi University students who are also a key factor in program design with shared classes experiences and lectures designed to be accessible and worthwhile for all cohorts. When we deliver this program virtually the program content is largely similar. However, design and accessibility play a different role with factoring in different time zones, content suitability and student fatigue being some of the key concerns working virtually. Some of the highlights of the virtual program are our international student exchange, a neighbourhood walking tours where our students get to experience what is important to each other. Through the process of moving as collaborative program online, we found that the virtual builds upon the strength for the geographically co-located, we were able to build upon our existing international partners in Japan and create a program that is significant for us students but also institutional partners students as well. feedback from students indicates that virtual programs, including this one provided an opportunity for them to undertake international activities and previously may have had inhibitors to participation, including financial barriers, work and family commitments. When I design programs, I always try and seek out funding opportunities for students as well to help support them financially so that can be grant funding usually have an application or two in every year to that particular grant round. And I find that inclusivity is about reducing those barriers to participation and a lot of the time financially that’s a pretty big barrier. So for instance, the Japan program we are lucky this year again, to have $3,000 grants for every student that participates and is eligible. For new COMP plan funding and that really does help make these programs cost neutral. That program will be run fully in country this year, but when we run it virtually we also try and reduce the costs with funding reductions, but we also make sure that students don’t have to pay anything so these programs are cost neutral. Of course, they have to pay their usual their usual course fees, but nothing additional for virtual programs just to make sure that we’ve got that inclusive it really addresses a key concern.
So I think I think the challenge is really making sure that you consider all stakeholders. So that’s looking at it from a student perspective, looking at it from a teacher or facilitator perspective. Thinking about it, you know when we’re looking at international programs how each cohort of students will react to content, how about interact with content, and what they’ll actually get out of the program so designing a program just for Deakin students is just one half of the equation with this type of program, we have to create this program for two different cohorts. In addition to you know the variation we have within our Deakin cohort as well. So really trying to make sure you address all stakeholder needs, and that also includes university administration needs, financial funding needs, different teams. The work integrated learning team at Deakin is a really key resource for helping us address these sorts of internationalisation concerns and programs so they’re always a really big starting point for when I when I think of a program they’re usually my first port of call I give them a call, and I say, what do you think of this? How will our students work within this program? What are some of the stumbling blocks that you see so it’s really about collaborating. Asking lots of questions and making sure you know you go into every program knowing that There probably has to be some flexibility in built as well.
So we’ve had really, really positive feedback from students about this program we were one of those groups that will actually receive 100% on our evaluate scores, which was really phenomenal outcome for our first virtual program and entirely unexpected. Some of the feedback from students was that you know they felt that, you know when we’re doing the program and completing the Japan program actually felt like you know, even though that they’re under lockdown in Melbourne at the time, they’re actually for that three or four hour block they’re actually transported to that other country there are immersed in that culture and they felt that connection that. They’ve made friends with counterparts from the other universities and we’ve welcome some of those students now some of the graduates from the 2021 Program who are actually studying from Mushashi to Deakin and that’s a really exciting outcome to so they can kind of strengthen those friendships in person, so it’s helped with connections it’s helped with I suppose the stress that a lot of us felt, but during those really prolonged and protracted Melbourne lockdowns, so it’s been really overwhelmingly positive and I think if anything is one of those really great starting points for our students to start thinking about where they want to go next you know a lot of them have said they absolutely will be traveling to Japan now to see these locations in person to have another international experience in the region and that’s really what new COMP plan funding is about and we couldn’t have done it without that additional funding, I think that that was really required for the design of the program that we ended up with but it’s you know that building that strong institutional partners in the region, having friends having that collaboration that you can rely on, I think, is really key.
My advice would be to really break down who the key stakeholders are. Usually it’s students, but, as I think I mentioned earlier there’s teaching staff involved, there’s professional staff involved, knowing what key commitments are for time. Inclusivity and to make programs, inclusive and for that flexibility to be inbuilt usually takes a lot of flexibility in terms of program leadership. So you know when things might be slightly you know not 100% according to plan, making sure that you and your staff are prepared with Plan A, B, C and D. And that you know you’ve got that flexibility in-built also knowing that every every time you try and build an inclusive program, you’re not actually going to be able to include everyone, so there are going to be some programs that are suitable for some cohorts, some suitable for other cohorts and that’s okay. As long as you’ve got something that’s suitable across the board that have good quality opportunities for students so there’s some people might not be able to travel to Japan. Some people might not be able to make that commitment to do a two week intensive virtual program that they may be able to do a two day a week part time program. So, making sure you design, not just one program but multiple different opportunities that students can engage with can choose the best program that fits their situation. And our situations change all the time as we’re very, very much aware over this last few years, you have to be flexible in your design.