Access All Areas: Berkshire Community College takes Glean Site Wide

Welcome to our Q&A with Pamela Farron, Disability Resource Center Coordinator at Berkshire Community College who recently made the exciting move to implement Glean Site Wide.

Clock 4 min read Calendar Published: 24 Jun 2024
Author Chileshe Jackson
Access All Areas: Berkshire Community College takes Glean Site Wide


We recently had the pleasure of speaking to one of our Glean Site Wide customers and we learned a lot about the motivations and impact. Glean can have a significant impact not only on students with disabilities but also on students who may be slipping through the cracks.

Did you know that 65% of students don't disclose their disabilities? Therefore, even if you think you're helping, you may be missing out on helping those 65%. Let's chat about how Berkshire Community College made the move to say "yes" to more students.

Can you give us a brief overview of your role at Berkshire?

Pam: I've been at Berkshire Community College for 30 years, and I currently the Coordinator of the Disability Resource Center. I've been working to provide access to all students so that they don't always have to go through the Disability Resource Centre for the same services.

What was the motivation for getting Glean campus wide?

Pam: I wanted to extend our support campus wide because, especially since the pandemic, many students have approached me for accommodations like note-taking services, extra time for tests, and reading support. 

Previously, I had to turn them down because they lacked documentation or didn't have a disability. This made me uncomfortable. 

Our student population has increased, and with new state and federal grants, such as the Success Program and Trio, we have more resources. 

I collaborated with success coaches and directors from grant programs to show them the benefits of Glean for students with disabilities.

We conducted a successful pilot study and were provided with data from Glean on the impact it had on students with disabilities.

The results of the study were amazing:

  • 89% reported improved grades;
  • 93% noted better learning; and
  • 88% expressed increased confidence.

With our strategic plan focusing on student success and diversity, I believe Glean can play a significant role in meeting our goals.

How will Glean support Berkshire's Universal Design for Learning (UDL) goals?

Pam: It will support our goals because everyone will have access to it. I have been working on workshops with faculty for years, and we have established a center for teaching and learning. 

Through these workshops, we have been integrating Universal Design for Learning (UDL) into all the training sessions we provide for professors. Previously, our focus had been on high-impact practices and the principles of UDL from CAST. 

However, we realized that assistive technology (AT) was missing from our discussions. To address this, I advocated for the inclusion of AT, specifically Glean, as a form of AT for students.

I collaborated closely with our Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to ensure that disability was a part of our DEI initiatives. I contributed to the development of the strategic action plan for DEI and advocated for the inclusion of assistive technology, such as Glean, for students with disabilities. 

As a result, our campus provided positive feedback on the strategic action plan, with Glean and other AT being the standout elements.

Who did you need to get on board to successfully implement Glean across the campus? 

Pam: I started with the director level, people who are equivalent to me but outside the union. So their directors started with those of the special programs that have grants in case I couldn't get enough money.

I could use their grant money if I had their buy-in and they were excited. Then I worked with the DEI director, and she was super excited about it.

That led me to think if I'm going to have this go bigger, I better have someone who knows a little bit more about technology in the background of it than I do.

So Cody Johnson is the director of our Digital Commons computer lab. I convinced him, gave him a license, and he played around with it and started to support our students in disability services in the Digital Commons, and he really was into it.

So I started to talk to him about going campus wide. Would his staff be able to manage those additional students coming in with that?

He bought into it and gave me all of the background of what I needed to talk with our IT department. Because of the single sign-on and all those the AI and all the other parts that faculty are kind of worried about, he understood that language.

Did Berkshire's strategic plan influence the decision to get Glean's Site Wide package?

Pam: Our strategic plan is built around student success. And then, attracting and retaining a diverse community.

This is going to help support students, retain them, and hopefully improve their grades, their confidence, and their ability. I always say that since the pandemic, many students have very low frustration tolerance.

They give up and want to quit right away. Hopefully, this plan will take some of that pressure and stress off of them and give them a little bit more ability to hang in there and see the results.

We're having a big kick-off event in September. We're going to invite the whole college to come. We'll have merch from Glean to give out, and we're going to do demos. We will follow up with workshops throughout the semester, in addition to the webinars that you all offer students feedback from students as they want it live.

Digital Commons is going to offer those workshops. So I'm not doing this all on my own. If I were, it wouldn't be possible. I'm a one-person office, so I have a lot of responsibility, and I wouldn't be able to do this alone, so, buy-in from other people is really important.

Lastly, what impact do you envision Glean having on all Berkshire students?

Pam: I hope that it has as big an impact on our overall college population as it has on my students with disabilities.

I'm amazed by the data. 89% of the students said it improved their grades, 93% said it improved how they learn, 89% said they were more confident in their studies. 93% also said they better manage the overload of information that's coming in, and this helps them to do that.

87% find that studying is a lot less stressful, and 88% said they're more confident in preparing for their exams.

When Quiz Me became available, it was the turning point for some students. Even some faculty members were impressed by the idea that students can use the lecture material to create multiple-choice quiz questions, helping them to determine what they need to study, what they understand, and what they don't. 

Implementing Glean at your campus 

We are truly inspired by Berkshire Community College's dedication to accessibility and student success.

We're looking forward to witnessing the positive impact that Glean will bring to the entire student body. If you are interested in learning more about how you can make a difference for all students at your campus, we would be thrilled to hear from you.


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Time for a simpler, smarter note taking accommodation?

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