Some really brief thoughts on UDL

We need UDL for the same reasons we need UD anywhere else: learners bring “a huge variety of skills, needs and interests” to the learning environment. UDL ensures that learners can access, understand and act on the information provided. UD in other settings (housing or government, for example) ensures that citizens can access the resources provided, not only so they can benefit from them but also so they can contribute to their community. Thus, it seems to me that UDL is an aspect that serves to develop the sense of community and presence we’ve been talking about all summer.

In the classroom I can improve accessibility by designing assignments and assessments to have engaging features and flexible, creative, student-driven deliverables – also things we’ve been talking about all summer. Some things we maybe haven’t talked about are ensuring that we choose texts and course materials wisely and cost-effectively, and use the resources we insist our students pay for. Another is ensuring that the online features and platforms we choose to include are accessible to the students given the hardware / software they are likely to have.

Thinking about where I’ve been and where I’m going – well, I hope I’m going to a better place (with apologies to my friends at Candler 🙂 Not just slicker and better-looking, but really more effective in a way that can be measured. There are still a lot of old-school things I like to do in my classes precisely because I think they work well, and I hope I can keep the best or at least reproduce them in some way in the online environment .

UDL and Accessibility

Over the years, the office of Disability services, has given great leadership on how I as a professor should interact with students in my f2f class.  I think it is important to highlight the students’ needs as a starting point.  Overall improvements to the course should include being inclusive of participating and potential students (disabilities being one dimension).  The UDL reminded me of the work that my wife does in Neurofeedback.  The what, how and why of learning gives a great model for all teachers to contemplate.  It reminds me of the diversity of learning that has been the conversation ever since I have been in higher education.

I think I could increase accessibility in my classes if I present content in different ways.  Maybe have printed materials and videos in each module covering the same content.  Maybe also let student differentiate how they want to be evaluated and what they need to produce.

My biggest question is to know when I am successful.  At what point, can I measure that?  Or  are disabilities a never ending challenge?

When I started this class, I was a novice.  I feel like everything we have done has taught me to be better at teaching an online or blended course.  I started at nothing and have progress a little down the path.  I have a long way to go.

UDL uncompromising directives for learners

With older age comes reflection on the way it “used to be” and I see the UDL modifications very similar to the progression of general education of my childhood where limited modifications for physical and learning disabilities were the norm to where accommodation is a common (and mandated) practice. For example, when I was in elementary school, we had scholastically distinct groups–low, medium and high (even called that), there were no accommodations for special needs children–they just failed the same grade over and over (I can think of 3 or 4 of my third grade classmates who were at least 11), and if one was physically handicapped, most of the children were out of luck in my rural district. As digital education gains momentum even more, I truly foresee that these accommodation will be standard as opposed to recommended.

I do love the connection to the neural networks with UDL. The “what” to the pattern recognition of the posterior cortex, the “how” to the motor and executive functions of the cortex and the “why” to the limbic system and how it drives course design. My goal is always to engage the “why” first in face to face or online, then “what” and finally “how.” With teaching or leadership, unless I can convince my followers to follow me, then the rest is simply unimportant.

For next steps, I will be more cognizant and will begin to put titles under my images when Blackboard asks me. I will try to develop my texts so that screen recognition may capture them better and I will be more aware of HTML use. Long way to go on that one.

It will be a work in progress so I will be looking forward to growing and learning more.


“KISS” is my approach with this post and seems like a really good approach for online teaching in order to make sure education is Accessible by Universal Design. The technology and methods are so new, interesting and exciting that I need to remember to make sure the message is not lost in the delivery for all students. The 3 C’s: Clear, Concise and Cogent that I use to guide my grant writing are applicable here too. Further, it is important to consider and design online teaching for differences in learning style, brain pathways and abilities (physical and emotional) to best address how learners can best gather facts, organize information and engage in learning. I have learned so much from all of you.

Thank you! I am sorry to miss the session today, but am on my way to take my daughter to college. See you in September.  Kristy

UDderLy cLUeLess sometimes

Despite the fact that I have family members who have disabilities and I must therefore devise a variety of strategies to communicate and successfully interact with them, I know how bad I am about considering the needs of disabled students in my classes. To cut myself some slack, part of the problem is that I do not have an ongoing relationship with a class, so I usually only meet a group of students once. If the teacher does not make me aware of any issues, then I don’t think about UDL to be honest.

However, in the past when I have created instructional videos with Camtasia, I have added subtitles. Ironically however, I did not do that in the video I created for Module 7 — mainly because I used a different software and had a difficult time finding information on how to create closed captioning. And the research guides platform that we use at the library “provides alternative pages for screen readers and hidden skip-to-navigation links for patrons using adaptive technologies.” Yay!

Of course now I’m curious about the other technologies I use and am using in this class — WordPress and Cascade (the Emory website system) specifically.

This week’s readings are a good reminder to me to be aware of these issues and to make the instructional content I create as accessible as possible. I really liked the CAST website with the link to the teacher-friendly examples and resources (lots of potential technologies out there to assist you).


This is an important topic to be aware of, though it also feels like a bottomless pit. My current strategy is to start with the students that are actually in my class and to try to accommodate the needs they share with me, rather than to try and meet all the imagined needs that these articles identify. Because my online class is in the second year of a sequenced curriculum, I don’t expect to have any surprises about students with major disabilities, though you never know. But I do have a better sense of what might occur and some ideas about how to problem solve.

For me the main take-away on this module is a reminder about different learning styles. At the moment, I think all of my course assignments are written, so there’s not much variety. I should think about that. The variety of tools available (like VT) gives some flexibility to students, so I think that helps.

Regarding the last question, I feel like I have made a lot of progress developing my course. I have a much better sense of my learning objectives and a variety of ways to achieve them. The main thing that I wish I had more help with is trying to get a better sense of how to accomplish something through discussions. I feel like a lot of my f2f teaching happens in discussion, but that asynchronous discussions are not suitable for the same things. What’s the alternative? I still don’t really know. Because I have a synchronous session every week, I think i will end up using that time to do the work of f2f discussions. Which is probably a good use of that time, so I am happy with that. Maybe other people have some more creative ideas.

[I’m sorry this post doesn’t really fulfill the assignment given. I am spending the next 3.5 days in meetings and have just run out of time!]

M8 UDL response

I was a bit surprised when none of the three UDL articles employed the techniques they recommended.  David Rose and Jenna Gravel’s first suggestion was use multiple means of representation, followed soon thereafter by use different sensory modalities. However, a student with a visual disability would not have access to their article because the authors only presented flat text without sound. Most of this pointed to the popular assumption that those who are teaching online courses do not have disabilities, but only need to know how to adapt their courses for those who do.

The Sloan Consortium has produced three 90-minute webinars ( ) addressing online education that is accessible. Each of those webinars has two text versions – one of which highlights each word as it is spoken –  and one voice thread along with other visuals.  While it’s far more accessible, it’s still a bit boring, but that’s how most webinars are conceived and produced.

As I reflect on our summer learning about students as producers, I am reminded that one of the most important things I can do in designing a course accessible to the particular students in my class is to ask them to help me with that design. This would be an impossible task for some courses, I suppose, but I believe it is quite possible with a three-year professional degree program with older students who have a rich history of teaching and learning with varieties of disabilities, including the new range of disabilities, sometimes called invisible, hidden or silent.


David Jenkins



Introducing the Fabulous OERs!

What a great learning module! As a teacher of Academic Writing to international students, we push, pull, struggle, cajole, train, scare, practice, practice, practice how to incorporate outside sources without plagiarizing….

But this new-found knowledge of OERs creates a new dimension to the training of using sources! I had heard of Creative Commons, but I had no idea what it was or what it offered, and now I am so very much looking forward to sharing this with my students…and my colleagues.

Previously, I had learned on my own a very limited means to find images that I could use in my teaching tools (PPT, handout, online learning module, scholarblogs) without violating copyright: google images>search tools>usage rights>’labeled for noncommercial reuse’.

Now I can search and use videos, images, and other tools and use them in my instruction with more confidence, and share this knowledge.

OERs: 4 ‘Rs,’ 3 Steps and 4 Practices

I was not very familiar with Open Educational Resources (OERs) before completing this module, but think understanding OERs is very important for all types of education, especially for  future innovations.

Hilton III, Wiley, Stein, and Johnson (2010) described a useful continuum of Reuse with increasing openness:  1) Reuse, 2) Reuse and Redistribute only, and 3) Reuse, Revise, Remix and Redistribute.  Alejandro and Ming (2013) point out that for maximum openness, faculty should include all four ‘Rs’ in licenses for content they produce.

Wild’s (2012) OER Engagement Study identified the following three steps for optimal engagement of faculty:

1)    Understanding:  awareness of OER and licenses, and benefits of using OER for teaching and learning.

2)    Need:  faculty realize not option to create all course materials from scratch

3)    Reflection:  positive student feedback on OER encourages faculty use of OER

Alejandro and Ming (2013) identified four open educational practices for curriculum enhancement that included nursing and seem useful:

1)    Resources licensed for reuse are used as is

2)    Repurpose or adapt resources as course is designed

3)    OER used “JIT” as the course is taught

4)    Repurposed OER as course is taught

I was very interested in The University of Michigan Open Access site that includes  courses and resources (

Why to Choose OERs (

– Openly available to students and instructors for access and reuse

– Wider dissemination of a work

– Reduces duplication of effort

I have worked under the constraints of copyright when delivering content in my classes by using library access links for publications and giving credit for other resources.

My question about OER is how do I search all OER in nursing and health care, and how is copyright usually handled?


Alejandro, A., & Ming, N. (2013).  Open educational practices for curriculum enhancement.  Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning, 28, 7-20.

Hilton, J.III, Wiley, D., Stein, J., & Johnson, A. (2010). The four ‘R’s of openness and ALMS analysis: Frameworks for open educational resources.  Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning, 25, 37–44.

Wild, J. (2012). OER engagement study – Promoting OER reuse among academics. SCORE research report. Retrieved from

Time management run amuck

As I have studied OERs this week, I must say that I am thoroughly enlightened about the process. I never knew what I never knew to  roughly quote from Disney’s Pocahontas. My biggest issue with OERs are the search engines  and trying to find  the appropriate material contained within the larger headings. Also using regular search engines such as google and yahoo, and inquiring if the video, article, etc has Creative Common license. I had to keep referring to the videos, writing notes on how to access the “about” and “more” to see if I’m in violation of the copyright. This was time consuming for me to say the least.

Having struggled with location of applicable content, I  then struggled with previewing  of all the material that could be potentially useful. Thus far, I have watched Rolex awards, saw how corrupt Ken Law and Jeff Schilling were at Enron, checked out audio podcasts from Franklin Covey, learned about the vaccinations that are delivered at a fraction of the dose through the skin and on and on. It was a lovely morning, but accounted for almost 3 hours of searching and looking. Unfortunately, I do not have that  luxury of time as most of my “allocation” for this posting activity is well past my other pressing things to do–such as complete my syllabus, add course reserves, get ready for a 2pm conference call, pull the updated excel sheet for diabetes management for the clinic, to develop a protocol and yes, even think about making my video–all hoping that the power doesn’t go out and I lose this information.

OER does bring to mind  my concern as to where Emory, as an academic institution, feels about OER in each independent school. I know that I have been cautioned to consider strongly where I publish, as OER’s have not historically been included in the top journal sites.  Also I am beginning to question why we avoid Wikipedia like the plague when it is open access with shared content–do we need to rethink our bias against it?

This has been a great eye opening module–the knowledge, the skills and attitudes we have gained are truly worthwhile even if I have not managed my time well.