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?
This picture was created by OPSEU (the union representing teachers in the last provincial college strike) in response to Don Sinclair's (A representative from the college council) response that the future of teaching is unclear in a gig economy and some jobs might be replaced by machines. For more rediculous statements by Don Sinclair, this is a link to the audio in which these statements are provided.
Teaching with Emotion
Werner (2016), although referring to the study of global issues, states:
"Expressions of feeling-such as surprise, anger, wonder, uncertainty, awe, consternation, commitment engage the interest and imagination of students, extend their involvement with the subject matter, and imbue the curriculum with the kind of personal significance that impels rather than hinders learning" (194)
Students should be excited to take part in lively discussions, group projects, and case studies. Too often in computer courses, from my experience, the teachers become like robots, simply allowing students access to learning/testing software and allowing the software to do the teaching. I know I have fallen into this trap before when using this kind of software. It's easy to do. What teacher wouldn't want a software program to do all of the marking for them? The problem is the student experience and achievement. Letting a student learn on their own from a computer program doesn't infuse them with excitement for the course or the subject matter. The computer program does the bare minimum, and it shows with student achievement. In these computer programs at my school there is a standardized, and internationally recognized Microsoft Office Specialist Exam. If the student scores over 70% they officially become certified. The problem is that only half of the students in all of the classes being taught at our school achieve this score. Meaning that only half of the students in the class can use this certification to advance their careers once they graduate. To me, this number is unacceptable and I plan to make sure that at least 80 percent (or more) of my students achieve this certificate at the end of this semester by infusing emotion into it and by not relying on the GMetrix computer software to run my classes.
I have tried to focus on all UDL guidelines to help my students this semester, but more specifically, the engagement guidelines.
Emotional Investment and UDL
I started to provide students with more choices in class, whether that is the choice between which case study they would like to tackle, or the choice in how to learn the content best. They might choose a tutorial video, PowerPoint presentation, group work, or through a game (although, many prefer a tutorial video or game). This helps with the first two guidelines, but I believe infusing emotions and passion into the course really help to minimize distractions, which is the third sub-guideline in the engagement category. If you remember watching a movie, t.v. series, or sporting event that you were emotionally invested in, it would have been pretty difficult to distract you or you might feel like attacking anyone who does try and distract (nothing can distract me during Game of Thrones). By showing excitement for Microsoft Excel and providing students with challenging and engaging case studies, I limit the potential distractions and threats to my students' learning.
The results so far have been great! Every single student in the class reached over 70% on the midterm which is very similar to their final, certification exam. I hope to keep students engaged for their benefit and achievement on their final exam. Without emotion, one cannot hope to reach all students.
Werner, W. (2016). Teaching for hope. In R. Case & P. Clark (Eds.), The anthology of social studies: Issues and strategies for secondary teachers (Updated ed., pp. 193–197). Vancouver, BC: The Critical Thinking Consortium.