Thoughts on UDL

For Module 2 of the Alternative Delivery Certification Course, our discussion is on UDL. Here are some of the thoughts I submitted.

UDL and Alternative Delivery Certification

After reviewing the 9 UDL guidelines in "Universal Design for Learning Guidelines" chart in the introduction to this module (or you can access the guidelines again here , what elements of UDL are evidenced in this Alternative Delivery Certification course that you have found thus far?

So far, I believe the ADC course had addressed all nine of UDL guidelines to varying degrees, but I've noticed six in particular through the discussions, the lectures, and the assignments:

Under multiple means of engagement, I've noticed that the discussions provide multiple means of engagement for self-regulation and recruiting interest, particularly since we're each asked to reflect upon our own experiences in relation to the course, but we're each required to manage our own time in terms of when and how to submit these. (And the gentle reminder certainly helps!) This enables us to customize our own approaches while also seeing how others are adapting the course to their own work.

The lectures provide multiple means of representation, particularly with options for comprehension through the textual overviews of each resource, and then options for perception with the inclusion of videos, podcasts, images, and in-depth written explanations.

Under action and expression, the guidance provided through the discussion questions, quiz responses, and sandbox construction provide very helpful guidance for the options for executive functions. The layout of the modules is particularly helpful here, since the course provides a straightforward outline for taking in information, sharing ideas with our classmates, and then using this knowledge as a habit of planning rather than simply "do this whenever." Additionally, I see multiple methods used to provide options for physical action. The standing invitation to submit a video is particularly good (I keep telling myself to do this — I'm still camera shy!) Additionally, the course includes "road signs" for how to use canvas, such as "hit this button to reply" along with screenshots of what the menus look like — this optimizes access to the tools.

Important UDL Considerations for My Own Course Planning

What "strikes" you as important about designing your hybrid or online course based on the UDL Framework?

For me, one of the hardest part of teaching English courses involves teaching the complex application of very simple concepts. For example, "ethos" has a relatively straightforward meaning in rhetoric — it's simply the ways in which a person indicates their expertise or qualifications to speak on a specific topic. But understanding that this might take the form of a USDA label on a food package, or helping students realize that "fluff" on a resume is a form of ethos even though it's a lie, that's difficult.

For me, UDL provides the opportunity to lay out the concepts and corresponding in a more visual layout. My goal is to put together online lessons that introduce the terms, then go to videos and descriptions to better solidify these terms as active tools in each student's mind. From there, I think students will be better equipped to use the terms when they begin the more "academic" readings that will also be part of the course.

UDL Compared with My Current Teaching Style

How is the UDL Framework similar and/or different to how you currently teach?

The UDL framework is similar in that I've always taken this type of approach in my in-person teaching. I introduce terms, bring in examples, and then talk students through the application of the specific terms to the examples. The main difference with UDL is that it provides a better pedagogical framework so I can be more purposeful in the choices of examples and presentations. In person, I'm able to quickly adapt based on student questions and observed facial expressions, but I won't have that immediate feedback online. To compensate for the more unidirectional nature of the online lecture, UDL helps me understand how to lay out these materials in an online format to provide a greater number of options for how students will take in the information.

Also, one thing I particularly like about UDL is the emphasis on providing a kind of "buffet" of content. My students all approach writing from a variety of levels — I'd like it if my advanced students can go straight to the harder material while my struggling students get the added time to master the basics. This, I think, will help each student advance further than if I tried to lock in everyone to the same level of information at all times.

My UDL Plans

What are your plans to incorporate this new information on UDL into your hybrid or online course? (This question might be better answered in your response post as you progress through this module.)

I've started applying this on my UDL writing website, but it's more challenging than I expected. I find that I keep defaulting to "forward" planning — I gather a bunch of resources, arrange them on a page, and then try to figure out how to present them. Instead, I plan on better outlining my overall course, and then being far more careful in the selection of videos and readings used to illustrate points. Here's the plan I have for presenting modules and assignments — this is adapted from a presentation by Cristina Norton, a Heartland Librarian who spoke on Transparent Assignment Design at a Writing Program, and I've added the UDL concepts:

    • Purpose/Goals: introduce multiple means of engagement by describing the relevance of the module/assignment. For writing assignments, this will mean introducing examples from different fields and genres that students are likely to either engage in regularly (such as social media) or require for their future careers (such as resumes or lab reports).
    • Task/Outcomes: to provide multiple means of action and expression, I'll describe the combination of readings and assignments the students will use in order to produce a useful "written" product ("written" in quotation marks because it may be a multimodal). For the informational lectures, the multiple means of representation will be used to explore key concepts and examples of effective assignments. For the assignment outcomes, students will have multiple means of action and expression as they choose the topic and the ultimate direction of their work, and the constraints (such as word count or number or sources) will be tied to the purpose. For multimodal projects, they'll have flexibility in choosing the type of presentation (e.g. slides, video, blogs, etc.)
    • Criteria for Success/Assessment: Here, the rubrics will guide executive planning so that they know what the outcomes should look like (e.g. what a good essay much include), and then feedback will provide another mode of representation for content information along with another option for communication. Essentially, I want students to see feedback as conversational — their work says something, and my feedback echoes back to let them see how they're doing. This is also the place for me to give them individualized options for further work, which provides options for sustained work. I already do this with assignments for me in-person classes — UDL gives me a better model for explaining what this feedback should help students do.