Celebrate Learning Week 2022

From May 9-13, 2022, the Provost and Vice-President Academic at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan collaboratively presented the 13th annual Celebrate Learning Week (CLW). This year’s CLW included a mix of virtual and in-person sessions, primarily focused on the themes of Inclusivity and Accessibility. In total, 1,053 attendees took part in 38 events, with contributions from faculty, staff and students from both campuses. 

Thank you to everyone in the UBC teaching and learning community who shared their work at CLW, and to all those who attended the events!   

Below, we have highlighted just a few of the many informative sessions that took place. We encourage Edubytes readers to engage with the numerous session recordings, presentations and other resources available on the Celebrate Learning Week 2022 Wiki page. You can also view more information about all the events on the Celebrate Learning Week website. 


Key Events 


Keynote: The Hurdle and the Highway: How we think about inclusion, accommodation, and disability, and why it matters  

Dr. Timothy Cordes shared his personal stories to highlight his lived experience as a blind person navigating higher education: as a student, earning a PhD in biomolecular chemistry; as an MD; and now as Interim Director of the Psychiatry department at University Health Services at Wisconsin-Madison.

Dr. Cordes talked about how his instructors worked with him to find unique ways to learn required skills, such as intubating a patient, and how he developed software to describe protein structures with sound—as no one can actually see a protein molecule. He urged us all to recognize our biases, and to move beyond thinking of only making accommodations for those with a disability to overcome educational hurdles, to building universally designed highways to create the best learning opportunities for everyone. In other words, the goal to which we should all be working is accessibility by default instead of by request. 


2022 TLEF and ALT-2040 Virtual Showcase 

The Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF, established at UBC Vancouver in 1991) and Aspire-2040 Learning Transformations Fund (ALT-2040, established as the ALT-2040 Fund in 2015 at UBC Okanagan) serve as innovation engines for improving the learning experience for UBC students, and for advancing innovative teaching practices at UBC and beyond.  

The 2022 TLEF and ALT-2040 Virtual Showcase included presentations by 58 project teams comprised of faculty, staff, and students. The teams shared details about a diverse range of innovative projects in short, in-person sessions and through posters that we have archived on the Celebrate Learning website.    

We encourage you to visit the Virtual Showcase to find out more about creative and innovative projects that are impacting thousands of UBC students each year. 


Student Perspectives on Teaching and Learning Accessible Practices 

This student panel incorporated perspectives from six UBC students with varying disabilities. It covered topics such as accessible and caring classroom culture, accommodations, and seeing disability not as a deficit but as a strength. The discussions gave session attendees an opportunity to learn more about these students, their disabilities, their experiences/strengths, and the challenges they are facing at UBC.    

The panelists shared several of the accessible strategies offered by their instructors, including: lecture recording, flexible deadlines, substitute assignments and virtual office hours. They emphasized how these strategies and care from their instructors made their experiences less difficult at UBC. The panelists emphasized the most accessible option within an educational system is “having options”, which can be achieved through flexibility and caring culture in our classrooms.   

Note, the recording for this session is available by request for UBC staff training or awareness building; contact Sukhi Ghuman. 


The Equity & Inclusion Scholars Program: Interventions Toward Inclusive Teaching 

The Equity & Inclusion (E&I) Scholars program panel was organized by the UBC Equity and Inclusion Office (EIO) and hosted by Maryam Nabavi, Staff and Faculty Strategist, from the EIO. After introducing the program, Maryam talked about the goal of the Equity and Inclusion Scholars program, which is “to build capacity for transformative teaching and learning through the integration of equity, diversity and inclusion in teaching-related practice and scholarship.” She explained how this program is committed to inclusive teaching and to cultivating a learning environment where all students are treated equitably, have equal access to learning, and feel valued and supported in their learning.    

The panelists were from six funded projects from the E&I Scholars Program, who shared their projects, work, and findings during the session. The range of projects included: curricula development, community building, instructional practice, capacity-building, and assessment, as they intersected with EDI in teaching and learning. The panelists discussed how these projects have enhanced or have the potential to enhance the experiences of historically or currently marginalized students at UBC, and how their interventions and practices could be applied to formal teaching practices in related disciplines and beyond. 


Teaching and Learning Accessible Practices and Support Panel

This panel was hosted by Dr. Piotr (Peter) Ahmad and moderated by RIshma Chooniedass from UBC Okanagan. Instructors and staff from both campuses shared their own lived experiences and/or lessons learned in working to make their courses more accessible and inclusive.

First, Dr. Laura Bulk created an environment that allowed us to experience the world from a vision-impaired perspective, as she intentionally blurred our vision as an example of just one of the accessibility considerations some of our learners may be dealing with. She concluded by challenging us to think about accessibility more broadly as we design learning experiences for our students.     

Dr. Strang Burton shared some accessible and inclusive practices from his teaching including ensuring diversity by using names from different languages and cultures in learning examples so all students feel a sense of belonging.  

Ayaka Yoshimizu highlighted the very intentional strategies she uses to make oppression visible and the significant effort involved to diversify every aspect of her course, using multi-modality for content delivery, and assessment that provides students with flexibility and options designed to assess learning, rather than a student’s ability or inability to take a test in a specific environment within a specific period.  

Finally, Tamara Ebl discussed the importance of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and shared creative strategies to engage students. 

We encourage you to watch the presentation to learn some very practical strategies to consider incorporating into your own teaching.    


Promoting Access and Inclusion for Learners of All Backgrounds at UBC 

This leadership panel, which included representatives from both campuses, was hosted by Christina Hendricks, Academic Director of the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology, and Professor of Teaching in the Department of Philosophy at UBCV. Panelists shared their insights and experiences relating to inclusive and accessible practices within the context of their units and roles, and discussed strategies to promote inclusion and access at UBC. They also identified existing systemic barriers and key challenges that students, staff and faculty with disabilities face when attempting to pursue their learning goals, as well as strategies and initiatives taking place at UBC to address and overcome these barriers.  

Enjoyed reading about Celebrate Learning Week? Learn about other topics we covered in the Celebrate Learning Week 2022 edition by reading the complete Edubytes newsletter. To view past issues, visit the Edubytes archive.

Are you interested in staying up to date on the latest trends in teaching and learning in higher education? Sign up for our newsletter and get this content delivered to your inbox once a month.