Changes Coming for the Summer

This is the last regular post of the 2017-2018 academic year!

in medias res

To keep you inspired over the summer, I offer this link to information about 8 storytelling techniques you can use to create more engaging talks and presentations.  Whether you offer information to students in person, online, on video, in infographics, or in other ways, these story shapes can help you focus your “presentations.”

New folks will run the blog in the coming year, so look for new structures and approaches to our topics.


Check out the UDL Toolkit!

Available for free to help all of us think more about Universal Design for Learning and how we can make our courses more accessible to and engaging for all, particularly through the use of technology and online tools, is the UDL Toolkit!

This Toolkit was designed by folks at the Center for Applied Special Technologies and the University of Michigan, along with funding from the National Science Foundation.

It allows you to do two things.  First, you can get in as a “guest” student, and poke around, experiencing what some of these design features are like for students.

Second, you can use the open source resources as foundations for your own development of online and web-based teaching materials.  (And remember, if that sounds terrifyingly techie to you, you don’t have to do this!  You can just be a student and poke around to see what’s what!).


Colorado State’s Access Project Helps Others in Higher Ed Think about UDL

Colorado State University’s “Access Project” helps other in higher education think about Universal Design for Learning, and how we can improve our own teaching practices, especially leveraging the power of educational technology and online tools!

I found the resource called “How Do YOU Teach?” particularly valuable as I thought about my own classrooms, what I might change, and how.


Want to Read More on UDL?

The text Universal Design in Higher Education: Promising Practices, edited by Sheryl E. Burgstahler, can be located at the above link.

The e-book contains an introduction to UDL in higher education and a variety of articles on UDL practices from the field.  Contributors have affiliations with a variety of universities and community colleges.  The final section contains a useful bibliography of web resources and published articles for those who want to seek out more information.

Postsecondary Education and Universal Design for Learning

While all levels of education need to attend to UDL to be in compliance with ADA standards, postsecondary education students have particular abilities and needs.

Check out this website with resources and ideas on postsecondary education and UDL, provided by the National Center for Universal Design for Learning.

Also, you’ll find even more resources at the website “UDL on Campus.”

How can online resources help you develop pedagogy to meet these new guidelines?

Learn More about UDL from the Center for Applied Special Technology

“Until learning has no limits.”

That’s the motto for CAST, The Center for Applied Special Technology, whose website is loaded with information and resources for educators interesting in Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

As their website states that The Center for Applied Special Technology explores

ways of using new technologies to provide better educational experiences to students with disabilities. As CAST researchers tested and refined their principles, priorities, and vision over that first decade, they came to a new understanding of how to improve education using flexible methods and materials. They called this approach Universal Design for Learning.

This robust online resource includes the group’s history, research, and a wide variety of videos, guidelines, grids, and prompts to help educators at all levels make their lessons and classroom experiences more accessible to all.

UDL, as they define it:

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a research-based set of principles to guide the design of learning environments that are accessible and effective for all. First articulated by CAST in the 1990s and now the leading framework in an international reform movement, UDL informs all of our work in educational research and development, capacity building, and professional learning.

Why not check out their UDL Guidelines as you consider the end of this school year and what innovations you might make for this coming fall?

Inclusion, Reconciliation and Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning… this is something that those of us working in online education need to think about more as we design our curricula and lessons.

This TEDX talk, “Universal Design for Learning–A Paradigm for Maximum Inclusion” addresses this in the context of reconciliation.  Fascinating.  The speaker, Dr. Terence Brady of Oxford, explains UDL and speaks about why he believes it is the best way toward maximum inclusion.

Check Out Crash Course on Educational Technology

“We believe in the additive power of educational technology both inside and outside the classroom.”

Check out this fast-paced, information-packed overview of “teaching at a  distance” and educational technology from the makers of the wildly popular Crash Course educational series.


The lesson is aimed at students learning through educational technology and offers tips for effective learning which students can adopt.   It also talks about automated tutoring (and how algorithms can figure out and respond to what a student does or doesn’t know!)

This might be a great video to share with students before beginning an online unit or course.

Finally, it is an interesting example of instructional video!  If you are interested in creating your own instructional videos, watch this and consider what you can learn from it in terms of creating your own videos.  Pace?  Length?  Visual cuts and examples?  Colors?

And what do we need to do to meet the requirements of universal design?