Program 3: Class Presentation Preparation


So far we've covered what you plan to do with Universal Design for Learning Principles in the physical environment of the classroom. Today let's talk about what you're planning to do when you prepare your presentations to incorporate Universal Design for Learning.

Universal Design for Learning calls for a student centered class environment. How in a lecture driven, expert based environment , do you plan on creating a student centered environment that will embrace the needs of all students, according to their ability level and their learning styles?

This is when the concept of UDL becomes really important for me as an instructor. UDL will provide me with a blueprint on how I create flexible goals, teaching strategies, teaching materials and assessment that will address the different learning needs of my students.

What do you plan to do in this class using Universal Design for Learning that differs from a traditional classroom setting?

The first thing I want to do is to create a welcoming environment. During the first day of class I'm planning to, not only include a statement on my course syllabus that talks about disability accommodations, but I want to make sure that if there's a student who needs such accommodations, they feel comfortable enough approaching me and requesting those accommodations.

Secondly, I'm going to tell my students and talk to them about the fact that we're going to be incorporating some Universal Design Principles in this class. And I will tell them about the different formats that the material will be presented in, so they can access those materials in the way they feel more comfortable.

How will you change the method of instruction?

Well, in tradit- not to generalize, but in traditional college classes are really lecture oriented. And although I am going to be lecturing ,I'm going to be doing different things. I will be including different means of representation for the material I'll be covering in class.

One of the things I'm going to do is use of media. I'm going to be using different media to demonstrate a theory or different concepts in the class.

I'll be including also different role play activities, so the student can translate that from what they're seeing on the videos and they start practicing more, how do they sound like a therapist, how do they practice and apply those concepts.

Also I'm going to include different group activities. Not only to work in case scenarios and group discussions, but also to facilitate in them problem solving skills and how those apply. How they apply all those concepts from the theories.

So essentially you're going to be doing lots of different things in class so that students are going to be getting the information that is necessary in different formats. And they'll be able to practice different ways in class also.


Varying types of instruction is important. But we know you're not going to be able to get away from giving lectures. What specific strategies can you employ in your lectures to ensure that they're Universally Designed?

Well there are a couple of really simple things instructors can do. For instance, if you're using a PowerPoint, make sure that your font, your colors are visible by everybody in the classroom. You need to make sure everyone can see what's on your slides clearly. If you include a graphic or a picture, you need to actively describe what is in your slide so everybody can, can have a sense of why you included that and what is the concept you want to get across with that.

In addition of, you know, creating the slides, I think it is important to make available those outlines for the students before class. That will help them get organized and get them the right mindset before they step into the classroom.

Now you mentioned describing pictures for all students, that's definitely going to benefit students with visual impairments who have trouble seeing what's on the screen. What will you do for multimedia things, such as video, to make sure that they're Universally Designed?

Well that's really important. There's a lot of videos out there. What I did was that I evaluate, you know, the videos not only the quality of the material I wanted, but also was looking for which video are closed captioned. And I selected only those who were closed captioned. Not only because closed captioning will help any student who has a hearing disability, but it help certainly those student's who's English is not the first language. Or maybe just somebody who is taking notes, and just they didn't understand something that was said, and they just can read and read what it was said on the screen.

Already, let's change gears slightly here for a second. Assessments are a very important part of the classroom experience. Is there a way to Universally Design them?

Well Jim, assessment is an area where instructors have a hard time incorporating UDL principles. For the purpose of this class, I will apply two concepts. I will increase the number of examinations and I will decrease the length of those examinations.

What's the theory behind increasing the number of assessments, but limiting their length?

By increasing the number of assessment, but also decreasing the length of those assessments, it will allow my students to concentrate in limited chunks of data. For example in this class we'll be discussing many theories, many concepts, if I do that my students will be just concentrating on a couple of theories, their applications, their concepts. Hopefully this will really increase their retention and learning for the class.

Earlier you'd mentioned you were going to vary the method of assessments also. What will you do to vary these?

Well, two out of the three exams that the students will take in this class will be your traditional paper pencil exam. The third exam is going to be a computer based exam administered through our course management system. And what I'll do is that I will include different types of questions within all these exams. Students will be answering multiple choice, true or false, short answer, long answer and essay type questions, as well as case scenarios.

So you're going to have multiple methods of the exam so that students with a disability that may not be able to work on paper pencil exams will at least have one exam on the computer that the will be able to access on their own. How does varying the questions across the exams benefit all the students?

By varying the type of questions you have in your exams it would allow students to better match the way they're assessed with the way they learn. For instance a student who has a really hard time answering a multiple choice question, may have better chance or better way of expressing all the things he or she knows, in an open ended question.

So if you do that, you allow students to find a way that they can show you how they best learn. So essentially, everybody should have a section of the test that's going to point to their strengths.


Ok, you've talked about a lot of things here, and they all sound great, but can't they just be considered good teaching?

It can be, but UDL will provide me as an instructor with the structure, the resources, as to why classes should be taught that way. Bottom line is to create access to all students. Would allow me to better have a view and measurement of the impact I'm having on my students

Alright, thanks Noel. it's been great following you so far. We're going to continue to follow how you implement these things and we're also going to hear about some of your student reactions a little bit later on.

Implementing UDL