Refreshed sexual violence prevention training program set to launch

Students, faculty, and staff can take the new version of “It Takes All of Us” starting January 30.
Illustration by tigris alt sakda

McGill launched It Takes All of Us, the University’s sexual violence training program, in Fall 2019. A refreshed, more survivor-focused version of the training will roll out on January 30, 2023.

The It Takes All of Us (ITAOU) refresh is a collaboration between the Office for Sexual Violence Response, Support and Education (OSVRSE) and Teaching and Learning Services (TLS). As part of McGill’s Policy Against Sexual Violence, the bilingual program is designed to increase awareness about sexual violence and its prevention.

All McGill students, staff, and faculty are required to complete the new program by April 28, 2023—regardless of whether they previously completed the old version of It Takes All of Us. Completion is an expectation of employment for staff and faculty. Students who do not complete the training by the deadline risk having a hold put on their student account, preventing them from registering for courses next semester. Staff or faculty hired after January 30 are required to complete the training within three months or before the end of their probation period. Students, staff, or faculty who require an accommodation will receive a completion record and will not have to disclose the accommodation.

Updated content

Sexual violence education is an ongoing, iterative process. From its inception, ITAOU was intended to be updated at least every three years.

Over six months last year, the ITAOU team did a thorough overhaul of all the original content. The team considered formal user feedback and thoughts expressed on social media and other platforms. In addition, the Implementation Committee for the Policy Against Sexual Violence brought in feedback from student and staff groups. The team also sought out experts such as Jessica Wright, a postdoctoral researcher in the Faculty of Education (now a prof at MacEwan University) specializing in sexual violence education programs.

“A lot of the feedback we got was that the original version of ITAOU wasn’t survivor-centered enough,” says Shannon Wood, an education advisor in OSVRSE who oversees the ITAOU program. “We know that a large percentage of the people who are going to be taking this course have been affected by sexual violence. This refresh gave us an opportunity to rethink how we were asking questions, how we were presenting certain facts and scenarios.”

The ITAOU refresh also sharpens the focus on the intersectionality of sexual violence and gender, race, and different abilities. Statistics about the prevalence of sexual violence, for example, now go deeper than the general population,  reflecting the markedly increased impacts for Indigenous women, 2S&LGBTQIA+ people, people of colour, and people with disabilities.

One program for everyone

Perhaps the most significant change is that students and faculty/staff will now take the same modules. When ITAOU first launched, the two groups had slightly different modules.

“That change is in response to a lot of feedback we got from students and staff after the 2019 launch,” says Wood. “Everyone wanted to know what the other person was taking. Now everyone is given the same baseline.”

“The goal is for everyone who studies or works at McGill to have a shared understanding of what sexual violence is, the populations that it affects most, notions of consent, and what resources and policies are available on campus that relate to these issues,” adds Angela Campbell, Associate Provost (Equity and Academic Policies) and administrative sponsor of ITAOU.

A different approach to delivery

In addition to refreshed content, learners will engage with the content differently than they did for the first version of ITAOU.

The ITAOU team worked with TLS to explore the best content-delivery options to meet the learning objectives. Instead of a single video with interactive points, the new ITAOU takes a blended learning approach, with modules consisting of shorter videos. Learners can pause—and save—their progress at any point.

“Working with TLS meant we had access to instructional designers who are up to date with current instructional design practices,” says Wood. “We know that just sitting through something for 40 minutes to an hour isn’t necessarily the best way to learn. The refreshed program has more variety of interaction with the content, so it’s a better experience for a variety of different learners.”

Although the new version of ITAOU isn’t longer—it still takes approximately 60 minutes to complete, depending on an individual’s pace—the program is now comprised of five modules instead of four; the new program separates content relating to consent and McGill’s Policy Against Sexual Violence into its own module.

“Conversations around consent, in general, can be really complex, especially for people who’ve been specifically affected by sexual violence,” says Wood. “I think it was really important to give some breathing room to those fairly heavy topics.”

Survivor-centred self-care and mindfulness

Given the difficult nature of some of the material, the refreshed ITAOU has added more mindfulness and self-care resources for learners who may feel activated or overwhelmed while doing the program.

“We want to help people stay grounded and feel supported while doing the learning,” says Émilie Marcotte, OSVRSE response advisor. “We heard from people who didn’t really feel clear about next steps or what to do if you’ve experienced sexual violence and are struggling with the It Takes All of Us content.”

A new permanent navigation bar at the top of the screen includes a “Take A Break” link that takes learners to a gentle 5-5-5 breathing technique at any point in the course. Learners also still have the option of contacting OSVRSE for support or an accommodation.

Building on success

The original ITAOU program had “a really good track record in terms of completion rates,” says Wood. From the 2019 launch of the original program until December 2022, 92 per cent of students completed the program, along with 93 per cent of tenure-track faculty, 92 per cent of tenured faculty, and 80 per cent of administrative staff.

“We’re hoping we get the same kind of buy-in and completion with this new iteration. It’s definitely a more up-to-date and relevant program to the climate that we’re in right now.”