OpenEd Training Module Encourages Self-Awareness and New Perspectives

Posted on Tuesday May 17, 2022
Example Image from Course

Navigating diversity in the workplace without bias isn’t always easy, and occasionally we form opinions without even realizing it. Unconscious bias is better understood when we learn to recognize how identity influences our view of ourselves and others.

With a growing demand for equity and inclusivity in the workplace, OpenEd has developed a relevant and increasingly popular short online course: "Who Do You Think You Are?": Identity and Unconscious Bias at Work. This “micro-course” takes participants on a journey of self-reflection and recognition so they can discover aspects of their own cultural identity and how that identity impacts their view of others.

“Understanding what makes up your identity can give you a sense of the lens through which you see others,” explains Lynne A. Mitchell, course developer, and director of the Centre for International Programs at the University of Guelph. “We all have that lens. It may be related to your ethnicity, race, religious beliefs, sexuality, gender identity, political orientation, ability/disability, appearance; there’s a long list but any of these things can influence how you view yourself, how you see others, and how they see you.”

“Similarly, we all have unconscious biases that influence what we think we know about others; these are short cuts your brain takes when you know one thing about a person and automatically assume other things too. If I say, ‘the pilot landed the plane’ most of us will automatically think of a man as the pilot before we even realize it. In a workplace where we are interacting with all kinds of people, understanding your identity and your implicit biases can help you avoid making assumptions about people based on biases, begin to see things from another’s perspective and, hopefully, create a more inclusive workplace that values the differences you and others bring to the table.”

Mitchell, a Queer woman with biracial kids, has her own personal and professional perspectives on inclusion. She has been instructing face-to-face intercultural workshops at the University of Guelph (U of G) for several years and is a trained administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory and the Intercultural Effectiveness Scale (two instruments for measuring intercultural competency).

During the pandemic, Mitchell found herself with more free time; students weren’t studying abroad, and workshops could not be delivered in person. This change triggered her commitment to finding creative ways for her content to reach a bigger audience.

“After talking to people in OpenEd it seemed like the content would really lend itself to an online course and they did such a great job of making the course interactive and engaging with activities, animations, and great graphics. I had one participant tell me it was the most beautiful online course she’s ever done.”

The course takes approximately four hours to complete and is comprised of four online modules: Cultural Self-Awareness, Bias Awareness, Perspective Taking, and Diverse Team Competencies. A wide variety of examples are included in the course, making it relevant to a larger audience than comparable training courses.

“This course (or any course) is not going to eliminate bias and discrimination in the workplace, but it hopefully provides people with some insight into their own biases and the aspects of their identities that influence how they see others and how others see them,” concludes Mitchell. “The course emphasizes the benefits of having diversity in the workplace and gives people some strategies to move from diversity to inclusion. One benefit to office teams who take the course is that it provides everyone with similar language and reference points when it comes to talking about bias and difference in the workplace and that can really help with workplace conversations that might come after the course.”

"Who Do You Think You Are?": Identity and Unconscious Bias at Work is open for registration on a continuous intake. The course is also offered free for all U of G instructors, staff and students through self-registration on CourseLink.