Do you have much experience with Universal Design? Today we’re thrilled to welcome a guest author who has not only implemented UDL on her own, but is assisting her colleagues in applying the principles in their classrooms as well.
Tianhong Shi, instructional designer with Oregon State Extended Campus, joins WCET Frontiers today to tell us about her journey learning about UDL, applying the concepts in a variety of learning settings, and expanding the design across the OSU campus.
Enjoy the read and enjoy your day,
– Lindsey Downs, WCET
Universal Design for Learning
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a practical tool for guiding course design to ensure that every learner succeeds, based on scientific insights into how humans learn (cast.org). There are three main principles of UDL:
multiple means of representations,
multiple means of engagement, and
multiple means of expressions.
UDL has roots in Inclusive pedagogy, which started around 1970s in the United States and as early as 1918 in the United Kingdom.
With the multiple means of presentation, engagement and expressions, UDL strives to make content accessible to all learners, it stimulates interests and motivation for learning and it provides a pathway for every learner to succeed (cast.org; udlcenter.org).
By teaching students according to their individual needs, we make sure that every student succeeds and prepare them for the future (versus preparing for our own past by teaching them how we were taught) (Katie Novak, Why UDL).
Designing Courses Using UDL Principles: Removing Barriers
After intensive self-directed learning on UDL for several months, I started to promote UDL among online instructors at Oregon State University. My greatest gratitude goes to Oregon State University (OSU) online instructors Ted Paterson, Victor Hsu, and Yvette Gibson who allowed me to share with them what I learned about UDL and started implementing the principles in their online courses in the Spring 2018 term. There are many applications of UDL design principles in some of OSU’s Spring 2018 online courses.
During my meetings with Ted, Victor, and Yvette, we identified barriers and challenges to learning and designed courses to remove such barriers.
For Ted, the biggest challenge is the intensive reading and writing in managing ethics study. So, we added estimated average reading time for each reading assignment and created animated videos to explain complicated yet crucially important writing assignments.
For Victor, the challenge to his students was the abstractness of biophysics concepts in macromolecular structure study. To overcome this barrier, we designed simulation videos to explain the concepts and used graphics to illustrate other concepts. Students were assigned to use video, graphics, and texts to explain key concepts in meaningful ways.
For Yvette, the challenge was how to make learning meaningful and applicable in shrubland ecology study. We used learner-generated content as the main teaching strategy for the course and students were assigned to co-write portions of the textbook and create resources that will be published for public use upon instructor approval.
Examples of class activities in Ted’s Managing Ethics course:
Text reading (Chapter 1 of textbook).
Listening to podcast (Ponzi Supernova podcast audio from Radio-lab).
Discussion forums: students post answers to prompts; students reply to peer classmates’ posts.
Student developed Personal Ethical Action Plan (instructor provides feedback for students to incorporate prior to final due date).
Examples of class activities in Victor’s Macromolecular Structure course and Yvette’s Shrubland Ecology course:
Create a three-dimensional image.
Create a video to explain what “reciprocal space” means to the individual student.
Complete a literature search and review.
Write a letter to a relative to explain why the Fourier transform is so important to NMR spectroscopy.
Co-author part of course textbook.
UDL Implementation Success Tips
Promoting the implementation of UDL is bound to be a rough journey that is full of challenges. Why is it still worthwhile to do it? By adopting UDL principles, you will aid in a student’s efforts to become expert learners.
Consider UDL as operating system, not just as a framework (suggested by Bryan Dean) in the days when you feel your UDL pioneering journey is becoming too rough: it is at work without you noticing it!
The College STAR program offers free access to UDL- Based teaching practices for faculty and staff members to implement in their college courses. College STAR also provides Incentive funding for faculty members to join Virtual Learning Communities and submit proposals which will be developed into online modules and case studies. Learn more about College STAR.