Faculty Immersed in Universal Design

Posted on January 26, 2015
By KCELT Team

KCELT started the New Year with its second annual Teacher as Designer Institute.  This year the theme was Universal Design, which “is an educational framework that guides the design of learning goals, materials, methods, and assessments as well as the policies surrounding these curricular elements with a diversity of learners in mind” according to http://udloncampus.cast.org/home.

One purpose of this blog post is to provide faculty resources in addition to those found on our website at http://www.kirkwood.edu/site/index.php?p=35990.  Another is to share what happened during the institute with the Kirkwood teaching and learning community.

Keynote

Dr. John Achrazoglou from the University of Iowa delivering his keynote speech about Universal Design

Dr. John Achrazoglou, Chief Technology Officer at the University of Iowa College of Education, gave an exciting keynote speech about Universal Design, which included a video of the University’s expert covering the key points of the framework and some practical solutions regarding captioning on YouTube.  Below are the videos from the keynote.

YouTube

The main interest among faculty on the first day was YouTube, especially the ease of creating and inserting captions.  Captioning enables students with hearing impairments, English language learners, and developing readers the chance to gain a richer experience of the YouTube content.  John Achrazoglou and his staff provided a 60-minute workshop introducing our faculty to the various functions of YouTube.

Below is a video tutorial of how to add captions to your own YouTube videos, made recently for the general public and not specifically Kirkwood.

Simulations

On Friday, we started the day with our colleagues, Barb Mussman and Amanda Thompson from Learning Services leading a simulation of being a student with visual impairments.  We simulated activities both inside and outside the classroom environment.  Below is a video of our faculty paired up with one partner helping the other who is acting as a blind person walking to class in Cedar Hall.

Learning Solutions

At the end of the day, all of our faculty were able to create learning solutions using Universal Design.  Some faculty who are working on flipping their students’ learning discovered the synergy between Universal Design and flipped learning principles.  Below are some other sample learning solutions from our faculty:

“I have a number of audio clips within the course that do not have the script. I would like to create the scripts and add scripts as another option for the students.”

“A student with a severe reading disability was enrolled in my class. He did not request the accommodations that he needed to be successful in my course. I misidentified the problem initially as a result. Further exploration revealed the student needed faculty and staff to advocate on his behalf. ‘Read aloud’ and ‘extended time’ accommodations were implemented and that student was not only able to experience improved success, but actually tested ‘Proficient’ on the final exam for the course. He scored high enough to earn 3 credit hours of college credit!”

“Teaching Google Docs allows students to save their work easily and access it easily from wherever they are. For many ELA learners, accessing technology is new to them as well and Google Docs teaches them to be tech-savvy as well. They can save their work and build on their knowledge.”

“I’ve come up with a few simple ideas throughout this workshop, but I will just list a few here: first I give a lot of oral instructions for in-class activities and then I wonder why students seem to have not heard me! I will now spend a few minutes before class starts writing important directions on the board so students can refer to them as they work.”

“Writing down instructions helps students who are slow writers or who have trouble listening to instructions, and it will help students who forget the instructions halfway through the activity. My learning outcomes relate to content mastery, not listening skills. My intent is not to test students on whether they listened well, but on whether they understood the content.”

“Choices of how to demonstrate learning benefits all students. Those with anxiety are helped to feel that they have some control over the process of assessment, and people in general feel calmer when they believe they have control over their environment. Those with learning disabilities may be able to select shorter or easier source materials to write about (it’s my job to ensure that even the “easiest” material is still at a high enough level to meet my learning outcomes). Those who are gifted or advanced can select materials that are difficult enough to challenge them, and get the sense that I care about whether they find the course to be too easy. I also offer one-on-one writing assistance to all students who are willing to meet with me in my office. Maybe 5% of students take me up on this offer, but those who do really seem to benefit. Closed captioning also has the potential to benefit all students. Even viewers who can hear well may need or choose to have the volume set to a low level.”

Many faculty discovered that they were already applying Universal Design to their courses.  How have you implemented Universal Design either intentionally or unintentionally in your classroom?

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