Our commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Decolonization

UAF eCampus is located on the unceded homelands of the Lower Tanana Dené people. We thank them for their past, current and future stewardship of the spaces in which we work at the Troth Yeddha’ campus.

We recognize that land acknowledgement does not equate to actions that we must take as an institution toward decolonization, anti-racism and respect. We have a long way to go in recognizing and addressing systemic issues of equity and the visible and invisible barriers within our educational institution. UAF eCampus is in a position of privilege to take deliberate action to address these issues.

As a unit of a Land, Sea and Space Grant institution, we acknowledge the university system’s role in forming and maintaining colonial structures of power through land seizure and assimilation via education, among other tactics. Recognizing this context, we at eCampus seek approaches to teaching and learning that are decolonial, anti-racist, trauma-informed and continuously reexamined.

Key questions that drive our work

We at eCampus are committed to continued education and exploration in issues of diversity, education and inclusion.

How are we collaborating with, honoring and valuing connection to the land and people who have been systematically less advantaged within our system?

How can we better engage with and serve all communities and individuals of Alaska and beyond?

What can we as individuals and as a department do to help undo a legacy of colonization and oppression?

Our Practices

At UAF eCampus, we regularly implement new programs and approaches that specifically help to address issues that our university community needs. We continue to make progress and we commit to ongoing work in these areas to improve access to higher education for all Alaskans. With a systematic view of accessibility, we work to create an inclusive learning environment that welcomes differences in technology, culture, place, ability and ways of knowing. As researchers, educators and creators of digital learning technologies, we recognize that our tools can perpetuate legacies of spatial, racial and cultural marginalization. We commit to continually interrogating our practices and tools, as well as recognize the pedagogical soundness of low-bandwidth classroom approaches.

Community Approach

eCampus is a human-centered support unit serving students, staff and faculty as individuals. We welcome instructors in every rank and position Through a constant focus on both innovation and equity, our goal is to continue to work on improvement.

Disrupting the Digital Divide

We work with faculty and departments to create online learning opportunities that are accessible to a wider range of students. Meanwhile, we respond to the unique needs of our Alaskan community by supporting instructors in creating courses that are accessible in low-bandwidth areas. We ensure that all faculty development opportunities are available to rural faculty virtually in accessible formats.

Internal Practice

We have integrated inclusivity discussions into our regular staff meetings and we have formed action groups to look at our internal and external processes. We are engaging with professional development at eCampus to help us form a personal framework for thinking about topics such as unconscious bias and inclusivity. It is the beginning of ongoing work. We hope with time and experience, our practice and our policies will improve.

Student Support Focus

We regularly work with students in an advising, course design, and testing capacity. In this work, we value an inclusive, welcoming student experience. We strive to accommodate each student in a way that decreases barriers to achieving success within university guidelines and actively seek opportunities to better respond to student needs. We collaborate with other support units, including Student Support Services, TRiO, and the Center for Student Rights and Responsibilities, to foster inclusivity across campus.

Fostering Inclusive Pedagogy

We collaborate with leaders in trauma-informed pedagogy in an effort to create a radically inclusive education environment both online and on campus. We provide tools for faculty-led course assessment for diversity, equity, and inclusivity considerations. Through partnering with the Faculty Accelerator, we have created more equitable opportunities that have a broader reach across UAF. Increasing the visibility of faculty commitment to inclusivity is one of our ongoing goals.

Data Collection

We collect limited data for the purposes of student success and faculty support but we recognize that the algorithms used for analysis of this data come with risks of implicit bias. We aim to first be aware and also to address these issues as they come to light.

Increasing Access to Higher Education

We engage in partnerships across the university to broaden education opportunities in Alaska by offering needs-based and merit-based scholarships. We offer programs such as Middle College and Advantage designed to attract first-generation college students.

Inclusive Hiring Practice

We have implemented hiring policies to strengthen our diversity on the eCampus team. We will revisit these policies and revise them as we continue to learn. Guidelines for Improving Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in eCampus Hiring

Collaboration

We regularly reach across institutional boundaries in order to collaborate with other units, institutions and with the larger community. We strive to offer support and connection on a neutral ground where students, staff, faculty, adjuncts and administration work together on projects as a team where every voice is valued.

Lowering Economic Barriers

We advocate for open access to education and encourage the use of open education resources to help provide affordable course materials. We provide resources and support on creating openly available online course spaces and assist instructors in adopting no- and low-cost class materials. We also contribute to open education through AlaskaX, which provides openly available free courses to the world with low-cost certification through the edX platform.

Accessibility

We regularly offer faculty development opportunities on designing course structures and materials that are equitable for students with disabilities. We work closely with the Office of Disability Services  to respond to specific requests for digital accommodations, but also advocate for proactive changes that increase accessibility for all. The instructional design team is trained in universal design for learning and encourages faculty to build their courses according to those best practices. eCampus researches and assists in funding tools and services that promote accessibility, including professional captioning.

Illustrations by Shayla Sackinger.

Feedback & Suggestions

We are open to feedback and welcome your suggestions for how we can do better. Please direct feedback and suggestions to: UAF eCampus Associate Director of Teaching and Learning Madara Mason, emason@alaska.edu.