Episode 19: How Universal Design for Learning Can Help You Break Up Your Lectures with Dr. Thomas J. Tobin

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Our guest on the show today is a colleague and friend of mine, Dr. Thomas J. Tobin. He’s here to help us think about how to reduce or lower barriers to learning in our courses using the principles of UDL, or Universal Design for Learning. 

A personal story . . . When I was taking courses as an undergraduate student in college, I’ll never forget the one course I took on the ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act. In that course, my group and I were required to visit two restaurants to look for ADA compliance. We were just looking in informal, casual ways. Other groups went to places such as libraries, hospitals, and in buildings throughout our own college campus.

We looked for accessibility in terms of handrails, ramps, steps, signage, parking spaces, curbs, curb cutouts, door handles, bathroom stalls . . . I had not considered all of these things because they didn’t directly impact me at the time. I didn’t know what I didn’t know about accessibility and barriers and design.

That one course gave me a whole new perspective about the world around me. Still to this day, I never look at a place of business or a house or a playground the same way.

When I first heard about UDL from Tom’s work, I had the same feeling. Only this time, it wasn’t about physical barriers and accessible design related to buildings and parks, it was about course design and lesson plans.

And that’s why I wanted to invite Tom to the show. He’s here to help us think about how to use UDL principles to break up our lectures, reduce barriers, and create learning experiences that allow all of our learners to be successful.

He’s addressing the myths, sharing specific examples, and taking us through the journey to design learning experiences that are more inclusive, accessible, and meaningful. 

(This episode is part 1 of a 2-part series. Part 2 focuses on UDL in the online classroom.)

Memorable Quotes:

"UDL is actually a mindset. It's an approach to how we design our learning interactions."

"We must consider the "invisible" challenges we can't see (time management, family responsibilities, learning disabilities, etc.). 3/4ths of all disabilities are invisible...you can't tell from the outside."

"UDL is plus-one thinking"

Show Notes:


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