This pecha kucha presents guidelines for design and delivery of trauma-informed learning in online and blended learning environments and a case study.
Traumatic experiences are common in our community. In Australia it is estimated that 75% of the population will experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives (Productivity Commission, 2020). Traumatic experiences can be caused by abuse, neglect, natural or community disaster, war, violence, witnessing death, and other emotionally harmful experience(s) that have a lasting effect (SAMHSA, 2014). These can have profound impacts on behaviour, interpersonal relationships, and learning (due to difficulty with organising and comprehending new information) (Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, n.d.). In addition, some courses have the potential to cause secondary traumatisation to learners when exposed to materials such as survivor recounts (Zurbriggen, 2011). This makes the design and delivery of trauma-informed learning an important consideration in higher education.
In an online and blended learning environment, designing and delivering trauma-informed learning presents particular benefits and challenges. Feedback mechanisms such as direct conversations and non-verbal cues that may indicate distress are ineffective when learning occurs online (Cares et al., 2014). And given conversations happen in 24-hour online discussion boards, it may not be possible to de-brief individuals and/or the whole class immediately after a potentially traumatic disclosure or incident (Hetzel-Riggen, 2014). In contrast, some benefits are that learners can control the pace of engaging with and responding to learning, and can come back to learning materials at a later time if they have experienced emotional distress (Cares et al., 2014). These benefits and challenges have been addressed in frameworks for online teaching in some topics, such as Social Work (Hitchcock et al., 2021; Sherwood et al., 2021). However, a holistic framework