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March 21, 2013 / gbrand

UDL Paradigm Shift and the GRCC Digital Initiative

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The Center for Teaching Excellence is hosting GRCC’s second UDL Discussion today! In preparation, I reviewed “Using Universal Design for Learning in Community & Technical Colleges.” It was created by Cathy Jenner and Cheryl Culwell, as the result of a UDL Project from 2002-2008.

Paradigm Shift
The first part of the article describes a dramatic paradigm shift. Here are my notes:

1. Past (Focus on DSS)

Most resources went to a few students who had documented disabilities! DSS:

– may have waited weeks, possibly even months, for a student to either disclose a disability or be recognized as having a severe learning challenge and be referred to them.
– dealt with instructors who were often nervous about how to handle students with disabilities and their accommodations. They were often uncertain about what they could say or do to help these students.

2. Now (Faculty Focus)

Many resources are available to ALL students in the classroom! Instructors:

– are trained on how to try out individualized strategies for students who may need a little more help.
– are given more information on how to make effective referrals to the Student Services department for more intensive help.
– try to make sure that they are teaching in ways that include all modalities: visual, auditory and kinesthetic.
– take strategies shown to be helpful for students with disabilities and offer them to all students in their classes.

Learning Strategies

Next, the authors described load and high-tech solutions. Again, here are my notes:

1. Low Tech

– Toolkit includes items such as rulers for masking, colored overlays, magnifier bars and pages, reading glasses, flip cards, highlighters and sticky notes.
– teaching students how to organize. Lack of organizational skills is the number one concern for most students with learning disabilities.
– David Sousa’s “Prime Time-Down Time” Teaching Intervals of (a) Prime Time of about 20 minutes where new information can be absorbed, (b) Down Time of about 10 minutes where student can’t take in new information (very little retention occurs) but can process information, and (c) Prime Time 2 of about 10 minutes where students can learn new information again (integration of old and new).
– Guided Notes for Lecture (cueing students to main ideas and organization of information).
– Paraphrasing (Students read a paragraph, ask themselves questions about the main idea and details)
– PASS for reading comprehension (Preview, review and predict Ask and answer questions Summarize, Synthesize)
– Mnemonics (using linking of meaningful sounds or words to create an association that will foster retention and recall).
– POWER strategy for writing (Plan your paper, Organize thoughts and ideas (using a graph), Write your draft, Edit your work, Revise and produce a final draft)
– Two or Three Column Note Taking (Main ideas are located in the smaller left side, or one for keywords, one for examples and one for the rules that accompany the problem)

2. High Tech

– augment lecture by using visual images or activities
– “capture” visual or auditory information so that students can review it later.

– Multi Modal Teaching Technology Lending Bank

“The UDL project discovered that instructors need to find the “right” technology that works with their teaching style. For instance, some technologies- i.e. the Tablet PC, restrict the instructor’s movements in the classroom. The instructor must be by the computer to make the visual presentation appear on the screen. Other tools- i.e. electronic whiteboard and Mimio- allow the instructor to move around and write on a large whiteboard area. Instructors who need to show small parts or other student’s papers may get more benefit out of the digital magnifier. To solve this problem of right fit of technology, RTC invested in a Multi Modal Teaching Technology Lending Bank. Instructors get to borrow these tools and use them in their classrooms for a few weeks to find the one that works best for their teaching style and content area.

This one-time investment makes the final purchase must less risky for instructors or departments. For the instructor who knows he or she is only going to use the technology periodically, it is available free of charge in the Lending Bank!”

– Assistive Technology traditionally thought of as only being for students with disabilities (Zoom Text, Wynn Reader, Text Help -Read and Write, Homepage Reader, Inspiration, Closed Captioned TV’s, DVD’s and VCR’s; LCD projectors, Dragon Naturally Speaking, Adjustable Work Stations, Speaking/ Spelling Dictionaries, Color Overlays)


Are our future classrooms being designed and equipped in a way that will allow this paradigm shift? Does anybody realize that GRCC has the equivalent of the “Multi Modal Teaching Technology Lending Bank” here?


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