Universal Design for Learning and Innovation Blog
My burning question: How can educators design
their classes to be more inclusive to benefit a
greater number of students?
I always believe in creating a culture of assessment in my classroom so that I am always assessing my students, and they are able to assess me through feedback. A suggestion for improvement that I got from one of my students two years ago was to start using YouTube tutorials. My student could not keep up with the pace of my Microsoft Excel lecture and mentioned that she learns things easily by watching YouTube videos. Although I was new to this, I thought I would give it a try. Also, because I was new at this, I had some students help me create my own YouTube page called "Mike's Office".
UDL guidelines ask educators to design a curriculum or course with these guidelines in mind:
1) Provide multiple means of representation
2) Provide multiple means of action and expression
3) Provide multiple means of engagement
YouTube tutorials can help with these guidelines as outline below!
Learners have options for perception as there are alternatives to auditory information. This relies on the teacher providing closed captions so that the tutorial can be read as well as heard. While adding captions, I have also posted the script below the video in the description box so that there is an alternative to visual information as well.
Action and Expression:
Students can create educational playlists on their own channel and add your videos and their own to be watched again later in preparation for exams or assignments. By reflecting on this piece of UDL guidelines, I realize that I could give students more control and perhaps get them to create their own YouTube videos to share and collaborate with others. This might be a great discussion topic for my next blog!
Students can choose where to watch and when to watch a video that you have created. This can minimize distractions as students can choose their environment for learning that might be outside of the classroom. As I mentioned in my last post, students can stop, pause, and slowdown a video as they wish which provided multiple means of engagement. YouTube can also foster collaboration and community. Students from all over the world can interact and communicate about your educational content. Recently, I asked students to let me know what they thought of a tutorial I had made, and I received 200 comments about what they liked/how to improve it from students all around the world.
To make course designs universal, educators need to use mediums like YouTube that the students are already using and can easily grasp and control. YouTube can also eliminate barriers to learning as the videos are completely free to watch (provided that the student has internet access). If you are an educator and are reading this, let me know if you have ever tried creating educational YouTube content and how it benefited your class.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides a new lens and framework for instructional design to accomodate all kinds of learners. It involves adding simple things into our classes that make learning more accessible and inclusive for all students. The best explanation or reference I have for UDL is provided by Shelley Moore in this video below:
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYtUlU8MjlY
As Shelley explains, education is like bowling. If the pins are students, we as educators want to be able to reach them all with one minimal shot or design. We don't want to leave any behind. We can do that with a more universal design of our classes.
The image below from www.udlcenter.org shows three ways in which educators can break down barriers for students by providing multiple means of representation, action and expression, and engagement.
CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author.
I would like to focus on how educators can incorporate technology into the classroom with UDL in mind. Although technology is not necessarily dependent on technology, it helps to facilitate its integration. This blog will showcase different tools that you might find useful in your teaching practice. I've already used one! A YouTube video. Yes, something as simple as a YouTube video can knock down barriers that might exist in a traditional classroom.
Using a YouTube video allows students who need more time to take notes to pause and play a video at their own will. Closed captions can help students who are hearing impaired so that they can see what the speaker is saying. Lastly, students can also control the speed of a YouTube video as well. I have had some students tell me that I tend to talk a little fast when I get excited, so this was a useful feature when watching a video lecture I had prepared. If we compare these options to the UDL guidelines, we can see that these types of choices offer students multiple ways to engage in the material. In my next blog post, I want to dive deeper into how to use UDL with YouTube in the classroom.