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Thanks to a UMW Teaching Center Faculty Development Grant, I am attempting (whenever possible and to the best of my ability) to deliver this course and its materials according to the principles of Universal Design for Instruction (UDI). UDI is, according to the University of Connecticut’s Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, “an approach to teaching that consists of the proactive design and use of inclusive instructional strategies that benefit a broad range of learners, including students with disabilities.” In order “to be responsive to diverse student learners and to minimize the need for ‘special’ accommodations and retrofitted changes to the learning environment,” a UDI pedagogy “operates on the premise that the planning and delivery of instruction as well as the evaluation of learning can incorporate inclusive attributes that embrace diversity in learners without compromising academic standards.” UDI “is not a synonym for ‘one-size-fits-all’ instruction,” but rather “a flexible design that is specifically created to be used in diverse ways.” Its benefits are clear: “By providing faculty with a framework and tools for designing inclusive college instruction, the dialogue surrounding college students with disabilities changes from a focus on compliance, accommodations, and nondiscrimination to an emphasis on teaching and learning.”


Some of the UDI features I have incorporated into this course include but are not limited to a detailed syllabus with clear goals and a complete calendar, links to outside resources (such as digital versions of the assigned readings whenever possible) and to instructor-generated documents (such as questions for discussion or important quotations from the readings), previews of the anticipated format for class meetings, published statement of teaching philosophy, multiple forms of assessment, multiple formats for in-class delivery, online student-generated summaries of assigned readings and daily class meetings (in addition to all the other supplementary material provided in blog posts), mid-semester course evaluations, online quizzes with re-take options, a take-home final examination, multiple collaborative options on assignments, and a learning contract option with adjustable percentages. I am particularly excited to test run the new Panopto Personal Capture software that can be installed on your desktop PC or classroom PC in order to allow you to capture voice and computer screen.


I am very interested in your opinions, throughout the semester and after the semester has ended, about any or all of these features (for example, what worked well for you and why, or what did not work well and why) and about the UDI approach overall. Also, if you do appreciate this sort of approach to course delivery, please consider being proactive in asking other professors to begin to include as many of these features as possible; this is the best way to ensure that the curriculum here at Mary Washington becomes more accessible sooner rather than later.

Written by cfoss

April 20th, 2010 at 2:57 am

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