Reflection on UDL Goals

A Reflection for the UDL Course

Because of coronavirus, I haven't made many updates to this site in a few months. However, I am finally getting life "back on track," and so I'm again working out ways to combine multiple tasks. For teachers, I think this is so important: you have to find ways to perform assessment while connecting with your students. You have to look for the best "bang for the buck" when it comes to guiding your students. Simply adding up a ton of points on a paper won't tell a student how to become a better writer, and simply providing a long summary of what you liked and didn't like won't necessarily tell a student how they're doing in relation to the course. You have to do both.

Which aspect of the UDL framework do you already do well?

I think I do very well with providing multiple means of expression and engagement for my students. In my courses, I always allow students to choose their own topics for their projects, and I use a variety of activities to guide them through the processes of choosing and examining their topics. Much of this is conversational — in face-to-face classes, I rotate among groups to talk with my students individually, and then I provide questions and activities to help them engage with each other as they work out study strategies. For my online students, I use a mix of formative quizzes (they're structured like worksheets, with multiple attempts encouraged) and a major focus on discussions to help students better understand the material. For each stage, I provide them with a variety of challenges to help them practice key skills in citation, research, and writing.

Which aspect of the UDL framework do you not currently focus much on?

Although I do use varieties of representation, I don't feel I do as well with it. I do track down videos on YouTube and I incorporate some of my own videos, but much of my "lecture" style remains fixed. It's flexible and conversational, but I do a fair amount of either talking at the blackboard as a prelude to in-class discussion and I also tend to post fairly long text-based descriptions of concepts for my online courses. I'm working on adding more visual representations of key concepts, but it's been hard finding that time as "retool" my courses for coronavirus.

Which part of the UDL framework surprised you?

I wasn't particularly "surprised" by the framework itself, but some of the applications were really interesting to me. The example of the "Know Vaping Campaign" (see below) was particularly fascinating, I think, because it had students bring together so many of the rhetorical skills I teach and then focus those skills on providing a public service through community information. Although I've seen civic engagement projects and I've heard some mention of them in relation to UDL, I hadn't fully realized just how manageable these can be. Everything the students did reminded me a great deal of the kind of planning and organizing I do for running conferences, and it simply never occurred to me before that these forms of community engagement are also a type of learning engagement.

Which part of the UDL framework does not seem to fit your needs/area/subject?

I would all the UDL components fit well with my goals and requirements as a teacher — the shortcoming isn't in the framework, but in how much time and expertise I have to bring all the facets together. Making videos, for example — I have great ideas for all the different ways I can represent key concepts of rhetoric and genre, but it will take time before I become sufficiently skilled there to make that a centerpiece of my teaching. So I use a of text instead, which isn't necessarily ideal. On the other hand, I am looking for ways to "kill two birds" — one of my plans is to write the pages as engaging and conversational, and then later use the webpages as transcripts for future videos.