Following the success and positive reception for Dr. Tom Tobin’s UDL webinar in 2021, he is returning to deliver a 90-minute online workshop to the Langara community on Friday, February 4, 2022. This time, his focus for us will be Universal Design for Learning Secrets for Creating Expert Learners. Sign up now at the TCDC iweb calendar.
In this workshop session, we will examine the linked concepts of learner variability and construct relevance—two of the foundations of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). From cultural and linguistic proficiences, to enthusiasm for study, to anxiety about the challenges ahead, students vary. Reducing cognitive, linguistic, executive, and affective barriers is of vital importance as students negotiate university expectations differently, according to their widely ranging background experiences. This creates more equitable and inclusive learning spaces and interactions that recognize and value diversity and variability among learners.
The purpose of engagement and assessment in post-secondary courses varies, as well. Assessments are often designed to gather student data that will yield information about accountability, student progress, and instruction.
- Accountability: Assessing student performance with respect to job preparation, prerequisites, and university or college program goals
- Student Progress: Assessing changes in student performance over time as a result of instruction (assessment of learning)
- Instruction: Probing student responses to instruction in order to optimize the course of learning (assessment for learning)
Assessment is used in courses to determine how well students are meeting goals that have been set (e.g., goals around job performance, goals around changes in knowledge). Measurable outcomes from assessments should be comparable with or benchmarked against set course goals. Assessment outcomes, in turn, should inform further instruction.
In this workshop session, you will practice how to make interactions and documents more accessible—not just for people with disabilities, but for learners who are using the time, devices, and methods that their circumstances often dictate. The goal is to recognize and design for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the interactions that we have with our learners.
You will craft or modify an assignment or interaction for one of your learning spaces that increases student choices about how they demonstrate their skills, without changing the criteria by which you assess learners’ success. You’ll also learn to spot (and get rid of) barriers to learner proficiency that don’t apply to what you’re actually grading, making it easier for students to focus on what they know, while maintaining the academic rigor of your program.
You will also learn where to focus your design, teaching, and support attention for maximum results—whether your learners are working in traditional asynchronous online cohorts or connecting with you in clinical settings, independent-study situations, or small-cohort learning situations.
We can often see the scope of what we think we need to accomplish and then suffer from “analysis paralysis,” where we don’t even start at all because the obstacle is too big. In this workshop session, you’ll learn ways to
- identify and reduce access challenge down to a manageable set of tasks for yourself and your learners,
- experiment with different access methods in just a few key parts of your regular interactions, and
- determine where some UDL thinking can save you (and your learners) time and effort.
You will leave our workshop session with practical, hands-on strategies for expanding access to learning and increasing your chance of success in the online classroom—an outcome for which we have 30 years of evidence-based practice and research. Bring an assignment, activity, or interaction that you currently do with learners: we will work on it together.
About Dr. Tobin
Thomas J. Tobin, PhD, MSLS, PMP, MOT, CPACC is a founding member of the Center for Teaching, Learning, & Mentoring (CTLM) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as an internationally recognized scholar, author, and speaker on technology-mediated education. His books include
- Evaluating Online Teaching: Implementing Best Practices (2015).
- The Copyright Ninja (2017).
- Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education (2018).
- Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers (2020).
- UDL for FET Practitioners: Guidance for Implementing Universal Design for Learning in Irish Further Education and Training (2021).
Find him on Twitter @ThomasJTobin, and at thomasjtobin.com.