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.


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?

A Quick Video Overview of Universal Design for Learning

We’ll all be hearing a lot more about Universal Design for Learning in the coming months…

for a quick overview, check out this overview video produced by CAST, the Center for Applied Special Technology.

You can learn more at the CAST website.

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?

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?

Know The Redundancy Principle to Improve Online Teaching and Learning

The Redundancy Principle.

What is it and how can it help you become a better instructor in online and blended learning environments?

The redundancy principle basically says this:

Redundant material interferes with rather than facilitates learning.  Redundancy occurs when the same information is presented concurrently in multiple forms.

Check out this source, “The Redundancy Principle in Multimedia Learning” for more.

This means, for instance, that if you put written text on a screen during a presentation and then read that text as part of the talk or narration, redundancy occurs and it actually hurts learning!

Does that surprise you?  It did me, the first time I encountered it.  I believed–as do many other teachers–that putting text on a screen and reading it provides multiple inputs and is better for reaching more students in more ways.

But research shows that is not true!  In fact, this practice results in information overload that inhibits learning.

The best practice:  combine audio narration with visual images!  Use bits of text as visual elements in a slide.

You can learn more about the redundancy principle in this short videos:


Faux-pen Resources for Hope Students: Linking to Library Resources

Faux-pen Resources for Hope Students

Linking to Library Resources

by Jenifer Holman, Electronic Resources Librarian, Hope College

Van Wylen Library

Van Wylen Library has purchased or licensed access to many high-quality, academic journals, ebooks, ereference sources, and streaming videos.  Just having these great resources available through the library web site, however, is not enough to guarantee use. Having an instructor link to a resource through Moodle, electronic syllabi, or even through a class-specific email will increase the odds that students will find and read/view these resources. Librarians do ask that you link to these resources instead of sending a copy of an article or a book chapter. If you send a copy instead of linking, we will not be able to track the item’s use. Use is an important metric that we use in evaluating our collection of electronic resources.

Please remember two things as you link to library resources: 1) always use a persistent/stable link; and 2) remember to add our proxy prefix to enable off-campus access.

Finding a Persistent/Stable Link

This is a session link taken from a browser’s address bar:

While it works for awhile on the same machine on which it was first used, by the time you are reading this on your device, it may no longer work. Most of our information providers provide a “persistent” link that should work in perpetuity. Below are some example of how to find the persistent links for our most popular e-resource providers.



Films on Demand



Off-campus Access: Adding our Proxy Prefix:

Libraries use two main methods to authenticate off-campus users: WAM and EZproxy.  WAM links look like:

While EZproxy links look like:

During summer 2016, our library switched from WAM to EZproxy. If you have any links that start with “http://0-” please update them or ask a librarian for a new link. Librarians are here to help!

We now use EZproxy and our prefix is To keep this prefix at your fingertips (!) you could download a macro program like AutoHotKey and create a macro or simply link to our fantastic off-campus link generator.

Lastly, if you would like a librarian to review your links/resources to make sure they are linked correctly and that we hold the appropriate permissions for use in your course, please let us know by completing this brief form.

Thank you for using library resources!



Three Quick Tips for Your Moodle Gradebook!

To help your Moodle gradebook run as smoothly as possible this semester, there are few quick things you can do now.  Implementing these will eliminate many potential problems later in the term.
TIP # 1:  If you are using a brand new Moodle course (it has not been cloned)leave the gradebook aggregation method set to natural.   This is the default.  Weights and other things actually work better this way!  The Moodle Basics video series (especially episodes 14-18) available on the CIT Help page walks you through the process of adding weights without changing the aggregation. Or we are happy to help you with a private appointment or at a drop-in session.
TIP #2:  If you have cloned a course,  reset the aggregation settings to natural. Check out this new Moodle Basics video!  It walks you through these steps in about 2 minutes.
TIP #3:  f you have cloned a course, delete any assignments you are not going to use in this semester’s version of the course.  “Hidden” assignments can cause a lot of gradebook trouble.
Enjoy your semester!