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National diversity magazine honors NMSU faculty mentor

New Mexico State University?s lead instructional coordinator and assistant college professor of Instructional Innovation and Quality, Sharon Lalla, is featured in the January/February issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine.


Portrait of woman
Teaching Academy staff member Sharon Lalla (photo by Darren Phillips)

She received the Diversity Visionary Award for implementing a unique course, which identifies the best practices for faculty to put diversity into practice within online courses.

?At IIQ I provide support for faculty, teach teachers to teach online and I, too, teach,? Lalla said. ?Designing a course with a strategy to try to design for all learners is a vision worth pursuing. It starts with discussing the concepts of universal design, the way the brain works and perceives learning differently. The class, EDLT 579 Universal Design for Online Course Design, is really designed to reduce the need for accommodation.?

In developing the course, Lalla used her expertise in inclusive teaching practices, and has started a chain reaction as faculty become more aware of strategies to design curriculum for different learners.

Lalla?s project was given a boost when the Office of the Provost solicited a small number of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access proposals from staff and faculty in an effort to put more diversity into practice. Lalla?s project was one of six proposals chosen.

The online course website, created in 2013, has been made available to the entire NMSU system, including Las Cruces, Carlsbad, Alamogordo, Grants and Dona Ana. The website was reviewed by web designers, the IT staff, faculty and staff who provided feedback on accessibility, the utility and use of resources. In addition, educators from around the state have begun to use the site as a resource for K-12 instruction.

?Students will get two things out of the EDLT 579 course: a design plan, and what I love to see,? Lalla said, ?a new awareness about diverse learners and a newfound motivation for continuing that perspective not only in the classroom, but in their daily lives.?

Lalla served as NMSU?s Hispanic Scholarship Chair for the past two years. She contributes to a number of different scholarships awarded to high-achieving, first-generation, women in education, and/or Pell grant recipients.