Welcome to 2017

A new year, a new adventure

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Almost exactly 12 months ago, I got the idea to apply for the Global Partnerships Grant at the University of Maryland with a proposal to travel to the University of Edinburgh to share ideas on Accessible and Inclusive Learning.  So, a few things have happened since I was awarded the grant, namely Brexit in the U.K., and the election of Donald Trump in the U.S.  How all of this will affect the future of education, disability rights, and international affairs is anyone’s guess.  But what I do know is that I share a dedication to increasing awareness of learning diversity, and the importance of supporting faculty and staff in this effort, with the good folks at the University of Edinburgh, who have been so gracious to agree to host me for two weeks starting in late February 2017.

I did a lot of initial planning when I was awarded the grant in April 2016. Then there was kind of a lull in activity as I waited for schedules to be developed. And all of a sudden it’s just 25 days from today that I’ll be boarding a plane from Baltimore to Edinburgh (with a quick stop in London Heathrow)! On Monday February 20 I’ll begin attending the Festival of Creative Learning, a week-long event of experiential and innovative learning activities.  (Learn more about it at their own blog, Festival of Creative Learning.) Then, I’ll spend another week meeting with faculty and staff and learning more about how students are supported at the University of Edinburgh and share some of the initiatives we’re working on at the University of Maryland.

I’m excited to be staying at the foot of Arthur’s Seat, in Masson House, which is owned by the University. I have been to Edinburgh before — many years ago. I imagine much has changed in the city, and also that much remains the same. If you don’t know much about Scotland, you might not know that although it is part of the U.K. it is also fiercely independent. It is generally more liberal on social issues than its southern neighbor, England, and it has a long history of interaction with European nations albeit mostly because it was siding with them against the English. (This is a terribly brief summary — actual historians please take no offense!)  I’m particularly excited to be meeting with and learning from the folks at the Institute Academic Development, who support the University with “Information on mainstreaming common learning adjustments, guidance on inclusive and accessible learning, and supporting multicultural learning.”

I’ll be writing again before I embark on this trip, and hope to document every day when I am in Edinburgh. I hope you enjoying following along, and feel free to leave your comments and questions!

Author: suejohnston2017

Sue Johnston is an Instructional Designer at the University of Maryland. She focuses on promoting accessible and inclusive learning in online learning. She is not actually a very good pool player but is willing to give any game a try.

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