TRANSCRIPT: Tales4Teaching ep. 77 – Cultivating inclusivity through career education
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Joan: Welcome to Tales for Teaching, a podcast where we explore stories with purpose in higher education. We’ll share expert insights, engaging interviews and thought provoking discussions that will inspire your teaching. On behalf of Deakin University. I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the unceded lands and waterways on which you are located. I acknowledge the Wadawurrung People of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners on which this podcast was recorded and I pay my respects to elders past, present and future. My name is Joan Sutherland and this is Tales for Teaching, brought to you by Deakin Learning Futures. So welcome to another episode of Tales for Teaching, where we’re exploring learning spaces and the way we are transforming the learning experience in this environment.
Hello and welcome to today’s episode. Today, I am delighted to interview Dr. Tricia Ong, who is a lecturer in career education here at Deakin.
Tricia: Thank you, Joan. Thank you very much. Joan: It’s great to have you on board here today. Just to give you our audience some context, can you just share the context of your role here at Deakin? Tricia: It’s like you mentioned that I’m a lecturer in career education and that I’m predominantly working in the Faculty of Health, and I think that’s a key point to leap late from because the reason I’m working in the Faculty of Health is because I worked with postgrad and undergrad students in School Health and Social Development before my role at DeakinTALENT in career education. And I used to be on the other side of the other side of the fence as unit chair actually working with DeakinTALENT to help with those career career education to in units a number of units in the health sciences stream. But the reason I guess or what sits behind me working in the Faculty of Health is that before before I was teaching health students is that I did my Ph.D. in the School of Health and Social Development, and that was a reproductive health study with sex-trafficked women in Nepal and the reason I ended up doing that PhD really came from my background in working in women’s rights, in the women’s reproductive health sector, as a creative arts therapist before that. And all of that experience was bridged in my PhD.
Joan: Wow, a wealth of experience there and some really interesting things that we will go into. So you mentioned that you used to be a unit chair. How did you come across to DeakinTALENT? What was it that actually brought you across to the other side?
Tricia: A bit of a knock on my door to say, What are you interested in working in the career education space? And I’ll be really honest, I never thought about working in career education or that I’d get a knock on the door, but I think what I’ve started to realise now, and I’ve been in the role for about just over, well, just over 18 months, she is that I’m becoming like a dual subject matter expert in both health and career education and that working in this space is a real place to inspire students and I really want to look at what they can do with their health careers and I think I then can grow from my background not only working in Nepal to do my PhD research, but working in the health sector in Australia before that.
Joan: what a great breadth of experience to share with students. So to show that the career is not just linear, like you can go in different directions as well, which is fabulous.
Tricia: Yeah, absolutely. And I would honestly say that my career pathway has definitely not been linear and one is that probably I’ve done across my career is I’m, I’ll come to a crossroads where there are choices about what I do with my career and I’ll look at the look at the signposts and I’ll look at the logical way to go and again, no that I’ll go the other way, that’s much more it’s not the the the interesting question you asked me before about like what inspired me to step into the career education, space. Well I saw myself going down that pathway. But now yeah I’m embracing the two hats.
Joan: Yes, that’s great, especially in today’s day and age where people are also getting graduates ready for all their careers, you know, and being work ready and just to give different directions.
Tricia: Yeah. And also actually get students to think about, particularly in my case, what were those transferable skills across all of my career pathways and just as we’re speaking now, I’m thinking communication’s been really big all the way. And my early career was in childcare, believe it or not,. My early career was in childcare centres across my career, I’ve really I’ve gone from working early childcare to outside care to hospital play therapy and and then obviously working in Nepal. And communication is a big transferable skill that sits in there and it’s gone from working with children to working with, well, children and adolescents to working with women to working with women in another culture. And then with that back into the space that I work in here at Deakin.
Joan: Yeah, what an amazing insight and to think about communication across that breadth of experience. So if we’re talking about the different you deal with a number of diverse cultural backgrounds and you’ve got a lot of work extending around human rights advocacy, particularly around women in Nepal, how do you tailor your career education to address the different cultural backgrounds of your students?
Tricia: Yeah, so that’s an interesting question. I think one of the things I really draw from is my background in creative arts therapy. So I as a creative arts therapist, I actually worked multi-modally. I was thinking about students and the different cultures in it and even what arts modalities would be available to students in those cultures and drawing on that in trying to bring some of that into the way we language things in the curriculum. And I’m starting to do it more and more in career ed. It I was doing it a lot in health, but now I’m looking at innovative ways to do it in the career ed space. And so bringing videos, I bring in like even using images that might be culturally centred, using artwork that might actually be appropriate for delivering your message within career ed, so I’m pushing the boundaries. Trying to push the boundaries at the moment about how to do that and and using tools, digital tools such as Padlet. I’m a real advocate of Padlet and more that purpose because you can use Padlet. Students can actually post images on Padlet, they can write on Padlet if they’re interesting writing. They can actually pop a link to a video from their own culture on Padlet if they want to see our. Yes, I probably think, and particularly because I work predominantly online in my role, so I have to be clever and innovative of how I can bring, how I can enable students to bring in their cultures into the classroom and bringing it into the classroom a I think Padlet as a digital communication tool is a big one that helps you do that.
Joan: Yeah, and it’s not even just online, like you could bring that into the classroom as well, like the physical space. So if you’re talking about the learning environment, the physical learning environment, integrating the different technology such as Padlet so you can actually bring that breadth of experience from the student so they’re bringing in their wealth of knowledge as well that’s culturally appropriate for them.
Tricia: Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, we’ll be using lots of different digital technologies, but I’m always drawn back to the purpose of why I first started using Padlet to engage all students where possible in digital learning technologies online, but it was really driven by really thinking about accessibility and inclusion with the use of Padlet and one of the one of the students that taught me the most was and visually a fully visually impaired student. So I’ve always got accessibility and inclusion in my mind when I’m thinking about any of the tools I use in teaching, whether it be in the content, whether it be in the slides, whether it be in the digital technology technologies that I actually use. And I’ve just finished the Graduate Certificate in Higher Education, Teaching and Learning and I feel like I’ve now got the time full force to put on thinking about accessibility and inclusion in resources, but also in our career education and graduate employability space.
Joan: It’s great to hear and I think a lot of people talk about it, but it’s great to hear about it in action because it’s a core component of designing any learning experience, essentially, because if it’s not accessible or is not inclusive, how are you engaging those students and making it an inclusive environment for everyone? You mentioned that you do that and that’s forefront of your mind. What ways do you do that? So I suppose more around the how do you do that?
Tricia: I think about the Universal Design for Learning principles as well. But I think I think probably the first step is thinking about the student and thinking about a typical student in a classroom and come back to the digital space, thinking about their culture, thinking about their needs, and then starting to think about how I would frame that within the curriculum, how I create modules of content and try to make them as simple as possible in terms of their language, in terms of the videos that are embedded in our units, in our unit sites. Thinking about the slides that I developed for a seminar and I actually went to visit Vision Australia early this year to get a sense of what, what, what the experience would be like for a student who is visually impaired, who read PowerPoint slides, and it guides the way I develop slides, it guides where I add alternative text within images and it guides every every slide that I create. So I think about it in terms of the content and I’ve been thinking to I don’t know why I don’t do this more often, but I should actually think about doing it in every classroom setting is just to incorporate people who are from different cultural backgrounds and why not just get them to say hello in their cultural language? Like, yeah, that, that cultural language. And I’m particularly cognisant of this from Nepal, that cultural language will often feature a word for hello, but it plays a word in India, but it’s also a like there’s also hand hand gestures that go with Namaste, Right. Yes. Way to bring everyone into a classroom is to want to say hello in the culture language.
Joan: But when you extend an invitation, it gives people people permission as well. People that may be a bit more guarded or not think it’s appropriate. It gives people an invitation to come forward and bring their culture, bring their understanding to a group setting. You know, so and there’s so much learnings to be had. But you have done so much work in Nepal, and your journey has been a very unique one. And you talked about your journey from childhood education, which I wasn’t aware of, so that’s really, really interesting. Can you give us context of your work in Nepal and what motivates you to do what you do? Because it’s very, very fascinating.
Tricia: Yeah. So I feel like I’m still I’m just finalising kind of a process that’s happened in Nepal, which was obviously my Ph.D. research, really what I did in Nepal and it’s a very long process. It started really, I suppose the PhD process really started in 2011 when I was working as a creative arts therapist who was asked to go and work on an art therapy and women’s reproductive health project in Nepal and I was really captivated by working with the women over there. And it took me a while to work out what I might like to do to go back and do something in Nepal that had a sustainable outcome and that really led me to doing a PhD and it’s really through working with illiterate, stigmatised and oppressed women in Nepal that is a driving force for teaching at Deakin University as I know what it’s like for illiterate women not to be able to access education, not to be able to really access the world in ways or access the world differently and it’s really that that experience was really embodied in Nepal and I bring that back and I really use that to frame how I teach in the classroom here at Deakin, whether it be teaching health students, whether it be teaching students career ed in health, it frames everything that I do. It’s only when you see what illiteracy looks like that you see really understand what our role is as educators here at Deakin University. So that broad global experience that I’ve had I use it as a driving force to really bring up, I think, the voices of the marginalised in our classrooms here at Deakin. I’m always looking for the people on the fringes and to enable then to speak up in the classrooms because it’s when they speak up about the issues that they’ve been through in their culture and know about through their culture that I think we can actually change and steps forward in issues like social justice in the classroom, social justice and careers, social justice in education and so on and so forth.
Joan: So I think it’s so impactful what you’re saying and having conversations with you just before you went on your last overseas journey and then speaking to you last week, it is embodied in everything you do. And I think just what you were saying is bringing the voices out from marginalised students and from people bring their culture to the forefront and enabling them to speak up. That’s really powerful and when you spoke to earlier how you use digital tools such as Padlet but you bring things through giving people a voice in different ways because not everyone will speak up vocally with their voice, but they could text it on a put it on a Padlet wall, or an image like that’s just as powerful. But giving them the tools to do that is really, really powerful. So thank you for doing that. And I think how you speak about it really gets me excited.
Tricia: One of the high points of being in Nepal has some really big applications for me here at Deakin University. And that that moment was sitting at a temple, a Hindu temple, with a woman who is illiterate, talking to her about life with a translator and talking to her about what life looks like and really reflecting back on who I am as an educator here in Australia, what I can do to bring our world forward in terms of education. But it’s a reminder from a woman who is illiterate that drives me, it drives me forward in terms of my educator role here at Deakin and not just education, in terms of education for education sake but lifelong learning. But I think my work at a grassroots level here at Deakin, all in the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development – number four. Number four, education, education, access to education for all, particularly women and girls. And I see the impact, that lack of education at who women and girls in Nepal, what that actually means. I’ve lived it and lived it felt it, but also under that goal is a driving force for the work at DeakinTALENT does because DeakinTALENT is looking at education and employability in Nepal. More is needed than education. Economic opportunities are also needed for women to be able to step forward, so education is one part of the process. But economic opportunities sitting there as well and I think employability sits in the middle.
Joan: You’ve said it really, really well. I think how you’ve taken that global context, bring it into Deakin in the work you do, but promoting it and advocating for it, not just promoting it. you’re an advocate and you really take that role on really, really well as far as I’ve seen and I really enjoy our conversations about this. So thank you for that. Is there anything you would like to share that other educators can do to incorporate some of the work that you’re doing?
Tricia: There is one other thing that just went through my mind, and this is reflective of being in Nepal so recently, it’s that I’m a stranger. I’m not really a stranger in their culture, but but I am, in a sense, still a stranger. So when I step into that country, people are speaking languages to me that I don’t understand and terms I put myself in in in the place of a student and imagine a student going in and out of Nepal reminds me of that about how international students might feel like strangers in classrooms until we can find that connection point to simplify our language, to bring them into the classroom.
Joan: Yeah, it’s a it’s a common message I think is making it authentic and meaningful for individuals because if you’ve got, as you said, gobbledegook, then it’s not understandable. So it’s not meaningful. And how is that experience going to be a true learning experience for the individual without taking those lenses approach that you’ve spoken about? You’ve given us a lot of advice today, Tricia. You’ve given us shared us a lot of insights into your own practice, which I’m really, really grateful for. So I’d like to say thank you for your time and look forward to sharing more of your work in the future.
Tricia: Yeah, fantastic. Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed.
Joan: You’re more than welcome.