La conception universelle pour soutenir l’inclusion les personnes ayant un trouble d’apprentissage ou un trouble qui lui est fréquemment associé ?

Nos Collègues de l’Institut des troubles d’apprentissage de Montréal n’ont pas pu se joindre à nus malheureusement à cause d’autres engagement mais ils tenaient à partager ce blogue.

Depuis plus de 50 ans, l’Institut des troubles d’apprentissage (auparavant l’Association québécoise des troubles d’apprentissage), soutient les jeunes et les moins jeunes ayant un trouble dans leur intégration voire leur inclusion sociale, scolaire et professionnelle.

Contexte de l’intégration et de l’inclusion

Dans le dernier demi-siècle, le contexte a beaucoup changé pour ces personnes, il y a davantage d’ouverture, plus de place, plus de modèles de réussite. Les effectifs étudiants sont de plus en plus diversifiés, les groupes de plus en plus hétérogènes. Il y a aussi de grands changements dans la façon d’enseigner et encore plus dans la façon d’inclure ces étudiants qui vivent avec des troubles d’apprentissage. «Différenciation pédagogique» ou «apprentissage différencié», «pratiques d’enseignement inclusif», «conception universelle en pédagogie et en apprentissage» sont des termes qui font désormais partie du vocabulaire et du contexte de tous les ordres d’enseignement. C’est donc tout naturellement que l’institut des troubles d’apprentissage s’est ouvert à des approches plus humaines, plus équitables et beaucoup moins stigmatisantes en éducation et en société.

Qui sont ces personnes qui sollicitent conseils et avis de l’Institut des troubles d’apprentissage?

Les troubles d’apprentissage de la lecture et de l’écriture (dyslexie-dysorthographie), du calcul (dyscalculie), le trouble primaire du langage (dysphasie) et quelques troubles qui leur sont souvent associés tel le trouble du déficit de l’attention avec ou sans hyperactivité (TDAH) ou le trouble d’anxiété généralisée (TAG) sont ceux que nous rencontrons le plus souvent. Il est aussi habituel de voir des gens qui ont une combinaison de ces troubles. Historiquement, ces personnes ont été vues comme ayant quelque chose en moins, une «déficience», un «handicap». Aujourd’hui on s’aperçoit, à travers les histoires de réussite, que ces personnes pourraient avoir en fait quelque chose en plus de l’ordre de la persévérance, de la connaissance de soi, de la créativité, de la capacité à demander de l’aide. Dans les faits, la personne n’est pas une dyslexie, elle a du mal à lire et à écrire de façon fluide, rapide et efficace. Pour tout le reste, elle est comme ses pairs, avec les mêmes aspirations, désirs de réussite de ses études et de sa vie. Elle est différente, mais pas déficiente ! Elle est unique ! Trouble d’apprentissage, trouble de santé mentale, du spectre de l’autisme, trouble du déficit de l’attention, trouble de la mémoire, trouble du langage, situation de handicap, quelle diversité ! Elle fait appel à une pléthore de mesures d’adaptation, d’accommodements et de services offerts par les établissements d’enseignement. En fait, quand nous cherchons à donner aux étudiants les moyens pour apprendre mieux, pour réussir leurs études et leur vie, nous visons bien souvent des solutions pour un trouble spécifique. Or, dans la pratique, les manifestations d’anxiété par exemple, ne sont pas l’apanage du seul trouble de santé mentale. Et si nous regardions autrement ? Par l’autre bout de la lorgnette, en posant un second regard ? Nous verrions probablement des manifestations, des forces, des besoins et des difficultés que nous pourrions rattacher à l’un ou l’autre des troubles spécifiques d’apprentissage, de santé mentale ou encore de déficit de l’attention, etc. Il devient désormais possible de favoriser divers moyens de représentation, d’action, d’expression et d’engagement pour toute personne qui a un trouble d’apprentissage ou un trouble associé sans avoir à la pointer du doigt, sans avoir à la stigmatiser.

Cheminement de l’Institut des troubles d’apprentissage

En 2015, nous présentions au premier congrès pancanadien sur la CUA à l’Université McGill à Montréal, une conférence intitulée « Regard porté sur les besoins inhérents à l’accomplissement des fonctions d’apprenant quand advient par exemple, l’anxiété, la difficulté attentionnelle ou mnésique.» Cette présentation nous conviait à mettre de côté le diagnostic, l’aménagement spécifique, le service individuel pour nous tourner vers la prévention, la responsabilisation de l’apprenant et la réponse à ses besoins. Elle représentait un pas vers l’universalisation des moyens pour amener l’apprenant à effectuer efficacement les fonctions du métier d’étudiant. Cette présentation adhérait donc à une perspective inclusive et universelle. Dans la foulée de cette présentation, nous espérions pouvoir être à Charlottetown pour le second congrès pancanadien sur la CUA. Nous serons avec vous en pensée et par écrit, faute de ne pouvoir y être en personne.

En 2015, nous avons aussi présenté la CUA à notre Colloque-parents annuel. Pour certaines personnes présentes, c’était le premier contact avec la CUA et cela a suscité un vif intérêt. Depuis maintenant plusieurs années, la CUA fait son chemin dans les écoles québécoises et des parents, des jeunes et des adultes sollicitent notre centre d’appel et de référence pour avoir plus d’information. L’implication de l’Institut des troubles d’apprentissage dans cette évolution de la CUA est dorénavant devenue incontournable.

Aujourd’hui, notre position en matière d’inclusion est plus déterminée que jamais. Nous croyons fermement que les personnes qui vivent avec un trouble d’apprentissage ont toutes les raisons de croire en leurs capacités et de viser la réussite de leur vie. Nous sommes aussi d’avis que la conception universelle en pédagogie, en société et sur le marché du travail peut faire émerger les forces, la singularité et le potentiel de toute personne qui vit avec un trouble d’apprentissage ou avec un trouble associé.

Odette Raymond, personne ressource à l’Institut des troubles d’apprentissage

Exploring Student-Designed Curriculum

Mylene DiPenta, from NSCC, and two her students ,Tim Bargen & Ryan Pulsifer, will present a session at the Conference.  They take this opportunity to share with us their process:

On Thursday, two students and I will present a workshop on “Exploring Student-Designed Curriculum” at the Pan-Canadian Conference on Universal Design for Learning.  If you’ll be at the conference, please join us!

We hope to take UDL’s “multiple means” to a new level: how much of the curriculum can students design themselves?  Beyond letting students choose how they engage, to what extent can we empower students to choose what they engage with? For a more detailed exploration of how this connects to UDL philosophy, see my previous post.

WHY SHOULD STUDENTS DESIGN THE CURRICULUM?

Tim Bargen, one of the students with whom I’ve co-designed this workshop, offers a few thoughts.

“I don’t usually have [trouble getting engaged]; usually it’s the opposite, unless I’m depressed.  It’s not that I don’t care; it’s that the lab gave me an idea and now I’m cruising eBay looking for parts for some project, or busy tracking rabbits on Wikipedia.”

That degree of focus has made school itself an obstacle for Bargen, who describes his previous experiences with school as “depressing.”  “When I have trouble getting motivated, it’s that I’m already too far behind” because of time spent on work that can’t be submitted for credit.

“I’ve failed/withdrawn from several university programs, with this downward spiral of decreasing engagement being a major contributor. More recently, I had an instructor who was aware and understanding of this difficulty. I believe that this was at least partially responsible in (somewhat) preventing the downward spiral and decreasing engagement. Obviously, experience, ‘maturity’, medication… all had a part to play here as well, but I still think this had a significant impact. I often have difficulty falling asleep; likely something like Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder. Rather than being awake all night doing unrelated activities, I often spent that same time interacting with the course material.”

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY “STUDENT-DESIGNED CURRICULUM,” AND HOW DO WE DO IT?

We’ll describe 3 main techniques from the point of view of the instructor and the students, give participants some time to try one of those techniques, and then take questions.

To read more about Mylene DiPenta, Tim Bargen & Ryan Pulsifer’s presentation, continue to this blogue.

Terri Milton of NSCC offers a few words of introduction and sets the stage for her presentation

Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC)

Photo of Terri Milton

terri.milton@nscc.ca

My first professional career was that of high school math and science teacher. It was some time ago, and the approach to diverse learning needs then was firmly planted in the realm of differentiation. It was through working as a teacher that I discovered school libraries (and their ability to serve a wide spectrum of student needs), and made a career change to become a library technician and then an academic librarian.

During an NSCC course on Students with Learning Disabilities, my colleagues role-played a mock trades classroom which had adopted a UDL approach, which offered such a reasonable alternative to differentiated instruction that everything clicked into place for me. I also recognized that libraries had incorporated Universal Design elements in their spaces, but not much UDL theory in their services. Then I became curious about how UDL was being approached by librarians as instructional partners in the academy, and whether UDL informed the pedagogical underpinnings of librarians’ work as educators.

Now, as a Learning Commons Assistant at Nova Scotia Community College, Annapolis Valley Campus & Centre of Geographic Sciences, I provide academic supports to post-secondary students and oversee online and accommodated testing services. UDL is crucial to this role and I see first-hand the benefits of a UDL approach for all post-secondary learners. I am now very interested in the growing role of Learning Strategists in post-secondary institutions, and the impact of UDL on this position. We still have a journey ahead of us, but I’m very excited by the promise of UDL in our colleges and universities.

Together with Maggie Lyons-MacFarlane of Mount Saint Vincent University, I’ll be speaking about the “Myth of the Average Library User: A UDL Checklist for Academic Libraries.” UDL seeks to dispel the “mythical average student” (Meyer et al. 2014). As important instructional partners, librarians must equally dispel the myth of the average academic library user. It’s our premise that students come to the Library to learn self-reliance; the library website and its instructional components are a main entrance. How can we design this entrance to reach a wider variety of our learners so that fewer are “justifiably absent” (Titchkosky, 2008)?  Even while presenting preliminary results of a UDL checklist for academic libraries, Terri & Maggie will critique this approach: the checklist is dead; long live the checklist.

Creation of a National non-profit association focusing on the promotion and development of UDL in Canada

The Second Pan-Canadian Conference on Universal Design for Learning will provide an opportunity for practitioners, researchers and students from across the country to discuss the creation of a National non-profit association focusing on the promotion and development of UDL in Canada, to volunteer in its establishment and to take on roles as officers.  A meeting for all interested parties will take place at 4pm on Thursday June 1st, at the end of the first day of conference sessions.  It will be held in room 286 in the AVC Building, UPEI.

The proposed goals would be to:

  • Formalize membership and create an up-to-date mailing list of Canadian advocates and implementers of UDL (Year 1)
  • To create contact points for the association in each province (Year 1)
  • To collect and showcase examples of (i) best practices and (ii) implementation models across sectors (Year 1)
  • To become a hub of excellence on UDL in Canada (Year 2)
  • To provide expertise and support to institutions (K-12 and post-secondary) considering UDL implementation (Year 2)
  • To organize regular national and provincial forums and gatherings on UDL (Year 3)
  • To build national momentum around UDL (Year 3)
  • To collaborate with departments of education at both provincial and national level and offer consultancy to these departments (Year 3)

Join us on Thursday!

A Bird’s Eye View of our Teaching and Learning Practices

Christina Perry and Ashley Clark discuss their session entitled ‘UDL Principles and English Language Learners: Enabling Success’

Often our learning and teaching methods are based on the assumption that all students have the same point of reference. However, have you stopped to reflect on whether your methods and expectations provide the best opportunity for all students to clearly understand course content and to demonstrate their understanding?

One particular group of students to consider are those who speak English as an additional language. These students bring with them much more than the knowledge of another language, they bring all that has been taught to them by their parents, community, and culture.

When creating class assignments and establishing student expectations, the assumptions we make about the best ways to present and represent information may be exclusive rather than inclusive.  These ‘best practices’ may not be what the EAL students in your classroom have been taught to value and does the opposite of what you intend; they create barriers instead of foster learning.  These students may not fully understand, have the skills, or the background knowledge to complete the assignment as per your expectations.

Taking time to stop and consider how our course expectations may create barriers is the first step in dissolving these barriers.  Look at your course through the lens in which your students view the learning and teaching methods employed. How can you change your expectations to include the values and knowledge of your EAL students?  Use the UDL principles to explore and learn from them, with them, and through them.

Applying UDL principles and practices provides all students, including EAL students, a new lens to view learning and creates more opportunities to enable and empower them to become expert learners.  The session “UDL Principles and English Language Learners: Enabling Success” explores how UDL principles can enhance the learning experiences of international students at our universities. Participants will explore further their assumptions when working with international students and create strategies to reduce barriers and promote success.

Universal Design for Learning: A Best Practice Guideline

A resource not to be missed for our Conference participants from the Higher Education sector!

The Licence to Learn Project, funded by the Erasmus + Programme of the European Union, launched this guide at the AHEAD Ireland Conference in March 2017.

Clear, pragmatic and to the point, the report offers seven guidelines for UDL implementation in Higher Education.

The report can be found at https://udlleurope.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/bpg-web-version.pdf

For more information on the Licence to Learn Project and UDL development in the post-secondary sector in Europe, visit: https://udlleurope.wordpress.com/

Using UDL and Adult Learning Theories to Create Inclusive Online Spaces in Higher Education

Wendy Kraglund-Gauthier offers a brief personal introduction.  Her session will take place Friday June 2nd at 9am.

Wendy Kraglund-Gauthier is an educator, instructional designer, and researcher with over 25 years’ experience in K–12, post-secondary, and adult learning classrooms in the Northwest Territories, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and online. A life-long learner with learning disabilities herself, Wendy’s lived experiences as a student and educator and accessibility advocate fuel her passion and energy. Her focus is on achieving and facilitating sound teaching pedagogy, including ways technology can be used in face-to-face and online classrooms to promote collaborative, safe learning for students of diverse ages, abilities, and backgrounds. She nourishes her adult education roots through her teaching and her active involvement as an Executive board member with the Antigonish County Adult Learners Association and as a portfolio practitioner for various local community-based programs.

Picture of Wendy Kraglund-Gauthier

On learning UDL by teaching UDL

Bonnie Stewart offers us some insight into her experience with UDL and the themes of her presentation.

Sometimes, in teaching, a happenstance discovery can shift the course of your entire practice.

UDL was that discovery, for me. In late 2014, I was hired to design and teach a fully online course in adult learning, as part of an Adult Education program I coordinated at UPEI. The learners in the course were primarily instructors themselves, from our local college as well as our university B.Ed program. As an educator, I operate from the premise that in teaching adult learning, I should design my courses to enact and embody the principles they communicate, and so I wanted to make sure the course was built on the concepts it was intended to convey. I wanted to encourage the students to grapple with course concepts from both learner AND teacher perspectives.

In order to succeed in that endeavour, I had to make sure the course was learner-centered, self-directed, and designed to draw out and respect learners’ prior knowledge and interests, all in an online format.

How to bring learners into an unfamiliar online context without reinforcing teacher-centered pedagogies? While I had longstanding experience teaching online, and in participatory settings, doing so while making it all align with the tenets of adult learning was a new and welcome challenge. I felt the course was a powerful opportunity to model meaningful and participatory learner-driven online learning, and so in order to create that experience I went looking for some new and emerging concepts that would help me engage learners. And when I searched for interesting short videos to explore “increasing engagement with students,” I happened on one about UDL.

I liked the way in which UDL offered a broad conceptual approach to inclusivity: a way for me to offer my learner-instructors an approach to meeting their own adult learners “where they are,” without anybody needing to ask. I was new to the idea of UDL, but brief reading led me to a depth of resources, and I included the video and a short article in our course syllabus and our weekly readings. I designed a week of the course around UDL, incorporating the video, some readings, and activities based on UDL principles of “multiple means” – of representation, engagement, and action/expression. But that’s where I stopped, that first year. UDL was just one of a number of one-week topics that I introduced learners to, as a way of opening thinking about difference and engagement.

I hadn’t yet fully begun to take my own advice, and engage with it as both a teacher AND a learner.

A year later, I was offered a second opportunity to teach the course, and the chance to sit back and reflect on what had worked and what I wanted to try to change. I was proud of the positive feedback I’d gotten from students about the first iteration of the class: many learners who’d initially been hesitant about the online format had expressed real appreciation for the participatory and meaningful work we’d done together. I was looking for ways to build on that success, and particularly to deepen the social learning and community of practice elements of the course.

When I went back to the UDL video I’d included, I wondered…could UDL be used to foster and enable deeper sharing and connection among learners? In the first year of the course, UPEI students from Education and Nursing had worked together with Holland College instructors from all different programs – including practical nursing – to share perspectives on learning in common fields and domains. In this sense, the course design was in keeping not only with its adult learning principles, but with what Lave and Wenger (1991) call community of practice. Communities of practice focus on learning together in areas of shared interest – in the case of our class, conversations about shared growth had emerged, based on participatory prompts and design, not only in relation to adult learning and to the common domains in which people taught or practiced, but also in relation to online learning itself.

I knew, as coordinator of the Adult Teaching program, that a few participants in my second iteration of the course had very limited comfort in online and even text-based spaces, let alone with online learning. I had tried hard in the first course to build a sense of social learning and social presence (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000) into the Moodle environment that was our primary site of instruction, but social learning did not minimize the text-heavy nature of forum discussions. I recognized that with this second group of students, UDL might offer me an opportunity to genuinely welcome instructors with low literacy levels, digital and otherwise, into a less exclusive community of practice, and enable meta-learning about online learning at the same time.

So in redesigning the course for its second year, I delved deeper into my own understanding of UDL, and tried to ensure that multiple means of representation, engagement, and action/expression were core to ALL weeks of the class, rather than just the one that covered UDL as a topic. I added more visual and video content to my Moodle design, opened up the assignments to enable a greater number of non-writing-based responses, and created prompts that encouraged learners to connect over their shared online learning curve as well as shared professional interests.

I had a lot to learn. I made an effort that second year, and then an even deeper effort in the course’s third year. If you’d like to hear more about what I tried, and how it worked…come to Bringing User Experience to Education: UDL and Inclusion for the 21st Century! In my “Practice What You Teach: UDL and Communities of Practice in Adult Education” presentation Thursday morning, June 1st, I look forward to outlining how UDL’s minimization of barriers to participation had an effect on my course in its second and third iterations, particularly, and served as a positive contributor to social learning and engagement for the adult learners I taught. I’ll share examples from what I did, and explore some of the benefits experienced in combining UDL with a social learning/community of practice approach in adult education. Hope to see you there!

OER development within a UDL landscape

Donald Moses and Meghan Landry discuss the reflection currently undertaken by the UPEI Library about the relevance of OER in a UDL landscape:

The Robertson Library at the University of Prince Edward Island is in the process of creating an online guide for faculty, staff and students on Open Educational Resources that will be showcased at the UDL Conference. Based off the Alberta OER Toolkit, we have created several headings, including textbooks, journals, course materials, repositories, open data, images, videos and Creative Commons licenses. Our mission is to compile all the necessary information and resources in a “one-stop-shop” for users to simplify the transition to using OER in the classroom.

However, the bigger picture is not the availability of resources–there are plenty–but the process of implementation and convincing important stakeholders of the adoption. These stakeholders include senior leadership and administration, faculty, instructional designers, librarians (potentially), and of course, students. Librarians have adapted to this change and our role in recent years has been evolving. In order to keep abreast of change, and to deal with continual budget cuts, the OER route has been a necessary and practical one. Educating users on the fundamentals of OER–reuse and repurpose–is also an important role we have undertaken at the Robertson Library.

Our presentation will touch upon how you, as a stakeholder, can overcome barriers to change and become involved in OER, within an UDL landscape, and more broadly the Open Education movement. Change and adoption can happen at any level.