Core Values of the Innovative Media Research and Extension Department

Our team feels strongly that developing educational media requires commitment to mission-driven work, and work place which fosters growth and support. Our end goal is to create high quality products which represent a wide variety of individuals and are accessible to a wide range of users.

We will do our best. We accept that we may get it wrong, have previously worked from a less-informed place, and will constantly evolve our thinking and approach. Annually, we commit to revisiting our values and processes.

Our Mission: Why We Do What We Do

Inspired by the Extension mission of this land-grant and HIspanic-Serving Institution, we apply university-based research to create effective and meaningful educational tools for New Mexicans and beyond. We strive to be innovative by producing media which reflects the most recent research in learning and technology, and by offering a workplace and work processes that enable the best experiences for our team members.

Our Workplace: What We Give Each Other

We approach our work with these assumptions:

  • Collaboration enhances productivity, and we actively encourage relationships with other scholars and developers, and across content areas and disciplines.
  • We can enable positive change in our team members' lives by enabling health (both mental and physical), pride in work, flexibility in schedule and workplace, and supporting an appropriate work-life balance.
  • A diverse workplace is better for all team members: each person is valued for their individual views, approaches and collective histories, and should be respected for their effort, knowledge and skill. Each person has something unique to contribute, and new ideas are important.
  • Honesty and integrity is highly valued. We are each responsible for our effort, our interactions with others, and our stewardship of resources (Including funding, our time and the time of our colleagues) to meet the mission of our university, college, and department.

Our Products: What We Make

As developers of technology-based learning, we strive to make our products inclusive and representative: We seek to include the experiences, dreams, needs and ideas of diverse people and content areas. This includes specific emphasis on:

  • Representation: to include a variety of positive visual, cultural and historical and economic presentations so that users can see themselves and others in the products they use. We have articulated our specific approach to equitable representation, and re-visit and edit this approach annually.
  • Accessibility: enabling use and enjoyment of our products for individuals on a spectrum of physiological needs; such as vision, hearing, motor control and cognition. We also seek to provide diversity for various types of access based on economics, location, and technology. We use a specific framework and approach for thinking through accessibility needs, and update this approach annually.
  • Research: to inform development of product, test products in development, and measure impact. We also openly share our research in our professional and academic communities.
  • Responsibility: applying integrity in using data, and protecting the privacy of research subjects and users of our materials.

Representation: How we portray individuals in the media we create

In our products, we seek to produce media that offers diverse representation, promotes acceptance, includes all learners, and counteracts stereotypes. Individual differences and attributes may include:

  • gender (acknowledging the spectrum);
  • sexual orientation;
  • body shape (weight, height, development, anthropometrics);
  • voice, accent, dialect, way of speaking, vocabulary;
  • skin, eye color and hair color and style;
  • clothing and vestments, including culturally specific or faith-based;
  • age;
  • social class;
  • national origin, location (city, suburban, rural);
  • social relationships such as living arrangements or family structure;
  • abilities and preferences (such as physical, cognitive, motor or social); and
  • beliefs (such as religious or atheist).

Accessibility: How we help people use and enjoy our products

Making our products accessible is a primary design consideration for our studio. We strive to make our products as accessible as possible, knowing that we will have to make some compromises, and may fall short in some areas. Our efforts recognize that:

  • Accessibility isn’t just for a set group of users: all users fall somewhere on a continuum of need (permanent, temporary, situational). Accessibility is about user needs, and accessible features must be actively designed during the design process.
  • Disabilities don’t exist in discrete boxes: they are often co-diagnosed, with any given user having needs across several different types of issues. Each area of need exists within a spectrum, from low to high, or specific types within each category.
  • Accessibility lives in the product and not in the user: a bad design that does not match users’ needs disables people, and a good design that matches users’ needs enables people.
  • User variability may include:
    • Visual needs: the person has a certain degree of vision loss, such as low vision, legal blindness, complete blindness, color blindness. This means our products should be reviewed for contrast, color and on-screen text or visual cues — providing alternatives for users.
    • Hearing needs: the person has a certain degree of loss in the ability to hear, either from one or both ears, such as deafness, hearing loss, or hard hearing. This is met by offering captioning of both spoken text and other audible cues.
    • Cognitive needs: the person has a mental or psychological disorder, which causes a deficit in the ability to learn, process or remember information, communicate, make social interaction, and make decisions. This type of disability can be a learning disability, intellectual disability, or a specific cognitive ability (e.g., memory, language processing). Includes developmental disabilities (e.g., dyslexia, dyscalculia), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer or senility because of aging, people with autism, Down syndrome, and other mental retardation. Some people with cognitive issues need information in literal language comprehension. Their thinking is more concrete, rather than abstract. We address this in a wide variety of ways, including design which offers explicit cues and expectations to guide users with cognitive needs.
    • Motor needs: the person has a limitation or a loss in the mobility function and muscle control, such as arthritis, paralysis, repetitive stress injury, neurological disorders, age related issues, lack of mobility, lack of steadiness, or cerebral palsy. We address this by developing resources with interfaces which can easily be mapped to alternative controllers.

Action: How We Commit to These Values

In our work, we commit to:

  • Addressing these principles through several aspects of design and production, such as
    • Asking guiding questions in design summits related to these issues;
    • Using them to guide research and scholarship, such as by conducting evaluations or generating research to inform development;
    • Including them in dissemination, by mentioning our approaches in articles or presentations;
    • Ensuring they inform discussions with and documentation for clients, including scopes of work, grant proposals and design documents; and
    • Assessing how audiences receive our efforts, through user testing and quality assurance, and applying these principles in recruitment and analysis.
  • Annual training in issues related to these guidelines; processes for facilitating discussion and understanding.
  • Annual review of this document and proposed processes and actions.