In October 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Instructure hosted its first ever virtual CanvasCon. In the backdrop of the monumental change brought about by lockdowns, school closures, and hundreds of web-conference meetings, Samantha Blyth, Senior Sales Director, organised a showcase of leading and innovative Canvas institutions, discussing how they have adapted to the new normal. In this blog, we are focussing on Equitable Access, from Greenland to South Africa, via a short stop in Wales.
Equitable Access is the notion that every student in a classroom or online course should have the same opportunities as any other student - whether that is facilities, an excellent tutor, or resources like books. More common, in recent years, Equitable Access is the notion that we must make a greater effort to support students who may not have internet access, a place to study at home, or a digital device. With campuses closing due to COVID-19, a previous safe haven for institutions to provide additional support to those who need it has been removed. This blog showcases how Swansea University ensured that students studying specialist programs, have access to the required specialist tools.
- Based in Swansea, Wales Public Research University, tracing its roots back to 1920
- Have been using Canvas LMS since 2019
- Represented by Alexis Ciunek, who studied BEng Environmental and Chemical Engineering and is a College Rep for the Swansea University Students' Union
Amongst discussing the student experience of COVID-19, Alexis touched on an important factor in Equitable Access. When studying a specialist area like engineering, students require access to specialist tools, similar to the 3D modelling tool mentioned above.
When Alexis’ peers entered lockdown, access to these tools was limited. Furthermore, often these tools require more powerful computers than the likes of Chromebooks or tablet computers. This means that only students fortunate enough to be able to afford such a computer, would be able to use the software required for their course.
To counter this issue of equitable access to technology, Swansea University’s IT Services invested in a web-based portal called Labstats, which will allow the remote access of PCs on-campus. The aim was to provide equity of experience for students with regard to software and take advantage of University PCs with a high technical specification.
This helped in the following scenarios, where access to campus is not possible:
- For students who needed access to software or resources only hosted by the University
- For students who were using a personal PC that is not powerful enough to run the University software
- For students who use a Mac and need to use Windows software
You can also read more about Instructure’s State of Student Success, which covers many elements of Equitable Access, here: