Canadian UDL Twitter chat in September

A Twitter chat will be hosted for all Canadians interested in UDL implementation (K-12 and post-secondary) on Wednesday September  20th at 8pm  EDT.    Join us to share your UDL plans, your achievements and your questions.  #udlpei17

Redesign or Accommodation?”: An Experiential & Interactive UDL-based Activity

Sue Doner & Jen LeVecque discuss the intentions and format of their Friday workshop

Background: In 2015, I worked with BCcampus and CAPER-BC to develop the BC Open Textbook Accessibility Toolkit [https://opentextbc.ca/accessibilitytoolkit/]. The Toolkit is a resource designed to help contributors to the BC Open Textbook project ensure that the textbooks they develop are accessible to the students who will be using them. In the Toolkit, we used Personas to help textbook authors keep a diverse population of students and their various abilities in mind. We also used these personas to introduce contributors to different types of hardware and software that students typically use.

“Redesign or Accommodation?” is an experiential activity that is grounded in the student-centeredness of UDL and incorporates the humanizing-element of student Personas that were part of the Accessibility Toolkit. Each participant in the activity adopts a Persona and advocates from that student’s perspective when presented with a Scenario that is based on common or recurring components of course delivery. In facilitated discussions, participants identify any potential barriers that the Scenario presents for their Persona-selves, consider what accommodations to address the barrier would look like—and if their Persona would even qualify, and then determine if the barrier/s could be avoided entirely by applying a UDL-based “redesign” to the course components in question.

“Redesign or Accommodation?” is an activity designed to help educators consider UDL-based practices without overwhelming participants with a deep dive into UDL principles. It’s an activity that can support:
– those of you who are already UDL evangelists and are looking for new tools to add to your own UDL toolkit;
– those of you who are newer to the UDL framework and practices and are looking for more ideas about the practical applications of UDL in teaching & learning; and
– those who “don’t know what they don’t know” yet about UDL.

We’d love to see you at our Friday session!

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