On the 11th day of the OOLidays: An Open Online Course for Empowering Bystanders Against Anti-Black Racism

On the 11th day of the OOLidays: An Open Online Course for Empowering Bystanders Against Anti-Black Racism

Ashlyne O’Neil (she/they), Learning Specialist in the Office of Open Learning

In late 2020, a group of UWindsor colleagues recognized the potential for the established Bystander Initiative to extend its impact beyond sexual assault prevention to address the urgent issue of anti-Black racism. The opportunity to integrate expertise from diverse academic units with the pedagogical excellence of the Office of Open Learning arose with the eCampusOntario Virtual Learning Strategy grant in January 2021.

Interdisciplinary Team and Student Partnerships

Led by Frankie Cachon, an expert in bystander intervention, the interdisciplinary team included Ashlyne O’Neil as the educational developer, Richard Douglass-Chin and Kevin Milne as driving forces, and Rai Reece, an expert in anti-Black racism from Toronto Metropolitan University. We then hired and collaborated with a team of four Black students, ensuring that the development of the open and online course was guided by authentic voices and experiences. These student partners were integral to the course and curriculum design, sharing co-authorship with the project leads.

Venturing Beyond Learning Management Systems

The team set out to create a course that transcended traditional learning management systems, opting for a flexible, innovative approach. Our commitment to developing students’ digital literacy skills and fostering a digital identity led to the strategic use of various digital tools, highlighted below.

EBAAR Pressbook cover with diverse cartoon people in the background with an earth tone colour theme and the title Empower Bystanders Against Anti-Black Racism in large orange block lettering

Pressbook as the Course Guide: Acting as a comprehensive guide, the EBAAR Pressbook incorporated links and embedded materials for diverse learning experiences. It facilitated a dynamic learning environment, allowing the integration of videos, learning exercises, summaries of key texts, and direct links to open articles.

WordPress for ePortfolios: Acknowledging the need for meaningful reflection, the team integrated WordPress as an ePortfolio platform. This decision was informed by students’ desire to connect their learning experiences with social activism. The public nature of these ePortfolios helped students see their role in knowledge creation and its broader impact.

EBAAR podcast cover image shows diverse cartoon people in the background, with the title EBAAR Episode 1 The Canadian (Mis) Education System with special guest Dr. Andrew Allen

Podcast Series on Spotify: Recognizing the importance of multiple modes of engagement, the team created a 4-part podcast series available on Spotify. This accessible format allowed for flexible learning, catering to students who could listen while commuting or completing other menial tasks. Hosted on Spotify, the podcasts reached a broader audience without subscription barriers.

The journey from envisioning an expanded Bystander Initiative to the creation of an innovative, open, and online course reflects a commitment to empowerment, allyship, and anti-racist praxis. Through strategic technological choices, collaborative partnerships, and a dedication to amplifying Black voices, this initiative stands as a beacon of progress in higher education’s ongoing pursuit of inclusivity and transformative learning.

Note: We are currently seeking funding to facilitate engagement with local Black community members who consulted with our project team in the initial development stages. Upon final review, we will begin the official PDC process to get the course offered as an upper-year undergraduate course at the University of Windsor.

For more information, contact Frankie Cachon (mfcachon@uwindsor.ca) or Ashlyne O’Neil (ashoneil@uwindsor.ca).

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