As we all prepare for a continuation of the remote learning environment for the Winter 2021 term, instructors are encouraged to set shared norms and expectations about assignment logistics from the beginning of the course. As such, many instructors are partnering with the OSD to adopt flexible assessment strategies in their course planning. The aim of this partnership is to create greater access for all students by incorporating inclusive learning principles such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Applying such inclusive principles ensures access to course content and assessments for most learners, thereby reducing the need for specific accommodations. When applied in the planning phase of your course and assessment design, this will make both learning and assessment goals achievable by all learners. For more detailed information on inclusive pedagogy and collaborating with the OSD, please consult our Faculty Guide.
One such inclusive strategy is to increase the available time to complete an exam, for all students. This is often achieved by doubling the typical assessment duration. For example, an instructor may plan a one-hour exam, but provide students with two hours to complete the assessment. In most, but not all instances, increasing the exam time for all removes the further need for time-based accommodations, because time-based considerations have been built into the assessment strategy from the onset of the course. Please note that it is imperative that you design your assessment to be completed in half of the scheduled time in order for this assessment strategy to be valid. In this case, please ensure it is clearly communicated to all students that the new exam duration encompasses students' accommodated times.
There may be exceptional circumstances in which disability-related accommodations may still be needed for students. If this is the case, students are encouraged to reach out to the OSD Exam Centre, following which and our exam coordinators will then coordinate with you, when necessary will communicate with you as needed.
See the SKILLS21 page on accessible workshop design for detailed information about the three principles of UDL as well as additional resources for concrete and easy-to-implement tools to make your online classroom more inclusive.
- In planning on how to alter your delivery of course instruction and the content you provide to students, we invite you to read the section "Remember to think about accessibility" on the TLS website and to engage with the resources provided.
- If you are using videos in your course content, make sure to enable captions.
- If you are using visuals during your lecture, including slides, images, etc., make sure to describe them verbally and indicate when you are advancing slides.
Please refer to the links provided above for more resources and tips on designing accessible courses, and visit the OSD's Personal technology solutions page to learn more about what students can use to access your courses and assessments.
Please note that TLS has advised against selecting the "No Review" option within myCourses for any graded assessments, unless this assessment approach is tied to specific learning outcomes and has been practiced during the semester. This practice does not promote student learning, contravenes the international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG), and may be challenged as unfair under the University Student Assessment Policy (USAP). The Assessment Strategies section on the TLS Website indicates that best practice guidelines for test-taking generally advise students to:
- Answer first the questions that they find easier and then return to those that are more difficult
- Review all answers before submitting the test
Equity at McGill has also put together information on assistive technologies available during the remote learning period (see Technology as well as Teaching and Learning sections).