I have been part of running a course called “the inclusive classroom” this fall. I learned a lot of new things both from other instructors (for example Louise’s excellent “office” metaphor for brain functions) and from participants (for example Damien & Rhiannon’s “design for the edges” below, a very inspiring read!). And now at the end of the course, we asked participants to share one paragraph each about their best tips, which I compiled into an article we will present as a roundtable discussion at LTH’s conference on teaching and learning in December. Read it below or here.
(Featured image: diversity of seasons observed when I left the office yesterday)
In last week’s seminar on inclusive teaching, Louise Morreau, psychologist at the student health services at Lund University, gave an inspiring presentation and used such a great image to talk about how we can think of the brain’s functions, that I have to adapt it for myself right away (because that is how MY brain works).
I have again been chewing on the “Universal Design for Learning” idea for the last couple of days. This was prompted by us agreeing that we want to let participants in an upcoming course play UDL Bingo, where participants check boxes if they notice that we are doing something to make the course more accessible, and we can then discuss what we did do and what we could and maybe should have done. In order to improve the old bingo (which I am not linking to here, because the new one comes below!), I went back to the UDL guidelines (http://udlguidelines.cast.org). I still find them slightly overwhelming, but here is a version that now makes sense in my head (I always have to re-compile complex information in order to process it…) and that I think I might be able to teach in the 45 or so minutes that I have available in that specific course.
There are a ton of things on my to-do list for this week before I go on vacation, but I really don’t want to do any of them right now, and so much not so that I, instead, just put together a “UDL bingo” that we can use to challenge ourselves! (Procrastination is best when you still do something useful, right?) Of course, the goal would be to do more than what is suggested on the bingo card, but this is at least a start!
I just tried automated subtitles in pptx slides and they are SO GOOD!!! I had known for quite a while that this option exists, but had so many excuses for why I wasn’t using it. Like English isn’t my first language, pptx will probably not understand me anyway… But turns out that it does, and it works beautifully, I am so impressed! Just go to “slide show”, tick “always show subtitles”, and then, optionally, choose the input AND OUTPUT language. That’s right — it can also translate in real time! I tested with German and English and it is SO IMPRESSIVE! We’ve had a lot of discussions about whether it is more accessible to teach in Swedish or English* and now this discussion is moot — we can easily have both at the same time!
Now the one thing I need to figure out is how to capture the closed captions and save the transcript as a text file (so it’s searchable). Does anyone have any advice?
“Reach everyone, teach everyone” — that title caught me right away, and I’m glad I ordered and read the book by Tobin & Behling (2018)! They manage to make Universal Design for Learning feel like a manageable task, and one that can be done one small step at a time, rather than something so huge and overwhelming that it’s better to not even start thinking about it. Here are my notes on what I want to remember from a teacher perspective!
This is the second part (part 1 here) of my notes on reading “small teaching online — applying learning science in online classes” by Darby & Lang (2019). Take it with a pinch of salt and go read the original book! These are just my two cents on the points that I find especially relevant for myself!
Part 1, chapter 2, is on “guiding learning through engagement”, basically how to scaffold learning by designing lots of small signposts and feedback opportunities throughout the duration of a course or project. And this is how they suggest we do it:
I absolutely loved reading the “small teaching” book by Lang (2021), so I was super excited to dig into the related “small teaching online — applying learning science in online classes” by Darby & Lang (2019), and it did not disappoint! I loved it (my only complaint: why didn’t they call it “Tiny Teaching”??? What a missed opportunity!) and — as always — I am summarizing the main points (of the part 1, chapter 1, stay tuned for future posts!) from my perspective below, but it is totally worth reading the actual book! Continue reading
Something that has been on my mind a lot lately is how to make learning situations welcoming and accessible to all students. A very obvious response is to the “accessible” side of things is to think about UDL: “Universal Design for Learning” (Brand et al., 2012). The general idea is that, instead of making accommodations when they are needed for individuals, there are four main principles that should be incorporated to make all parts of the learning process accessible to all learners:
- Multiple means of representation: This is about how students can take up our content, i.e. providing it in multiple formats so it can be accessed using different senses, and tailored to specific needs
- Multiple means of engagement: This is about how we motivate both initial and sustained student engagement with the content, providing multiple entry points, perspectives, etc.
- Multiple means for action and expression: This is about how students physically manipulate and communicate about the content via different options
- Multiple means of assessment: This is about how we test student understanding in different ways
When all these principles are met, learners with disabilities or with conditions potentially hindering their learning don’t have to disclose this information to the teacher, and courses don’t have to be adapted to specific students’ special needs ad hoc — they are already readily accessible. They also cater to students’ different circumstances and ways of thinking — maybe they are more used to certain ways of doing things than others for cultural reasons, or they simply have preferences (like listening to audiobooks over reading, so it can happen on a walk or driving to university).
There are many comprehensive checklists for UDL available online, if you would like to go that route. I personally found them a little overwhelming (which shows how important it is for me to actually think more about it!). So below, I share my thoughts on what UDL might mean in the context of teaching oceanography, following the Brand et al. (2012)’s structure. Note that I am just barely scratching the surface here, so watch this space for more and better information in the weeks to come!