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Authors & Copyright Info
This book is a collaborative project brought to you by the following USask Teaching, Learning, and Student Experience (TLSE) staff members:
- Sara Dzaman, Educational Development Specialist, Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning
- Derek Fenlon, Instructional Designer, Distance Education Unit
- Julie Maier, Instructional Designer, Distance Education Unit
- Toni Marchione, Educational Developer, Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning
A combination of original content and materials compiled and adapted from a number of open text publications (as listed on the Source OER Attributions page), this book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Why Did We Create This Book?
We know that learners bring a wide range of knowledge, skills, backgrounds, and experiences into the classroom. As educators, we can expect to find variability in our classroom. The USask Learning Charter lists, as one of the Educator Commitments and Responsibilities, to Strive for Excellence in Teaching. This commitment means that educators work to develop respectful and inclusive learning environments that support student learning.
Honouring this commitment requires that educators co-create with students a shared space for learning in which all participants feel respected, valued, and empowered to contribute as they achieve their goals and share the gifts of their identities in relationship with one another. This approach is also part of the work that comes to embody the word manacihtowin (Cree) / manachihitoohk (Michif) (i.e., respect of all individuals). When we don’t respond to the variability in our classrooms, we make our educational experiences exclusive.
UDL is a powerful approach that allows you to make sure the greatest range of students can access and engage in learning – not just certain students. Thus, the intention of Universal Design for Learning: One Small Step is to provide educators with strategies and resources to support greater accessibility and inclusion in higher education at the University of Saskatchewan.
Why “One Small Step”?
As seen in the title, Universal Design for Learning: One Small Step is built upon the teaching philosophy that even taking one small step (that is, making a single pointed change in your course) to provide an additional method of access, option for assessment, or strategy for engagement, is going to make a positive impact upon the learning experience, and move your course towards greater inclusivity and accessibility. This is similar to the “plus one” approach commonly used by UDL practitioners and advocates (for example, see this video by Thomas J. Tobin: UDL plus-one). The broad idea is to not get overwhelmed at the work of applying UDL principles – the UDL approach, and this book, are not meant to serve as a checklist of all the “must-do” tasks for your course. Rather, they are meant to provide a framework and a helpful set of guidelines for the ongoing, reflective, personal, and iterative work of course design and of teaching.
Layout of This Book
You will encounter the following content throughout the book:
Placed at the outset of a page, these blocks will provide a prompt to start your thinking, a meaty question to consider, or an activity for you to find a starting point in your UDL journey.
Where these are inserted, they offer links to additional resources from around the web where you might dig deeper into a topic or learn more.
Placed at the end of a page, these blocks ask you to reflect upon what you are learning and consider just one specific, discrete, and manageable way in which you might apply the principles of UDL in your courses.
Where included, you will also find USask Lens text boxes that provide a university-specific connection to the content, showing how UDL aligns with the unique context and broad strategic goals of teaching and learning at the University of Saskatchewan, or for links to resources already available to support USask educators and learners.
Note that this book is designed to be used in a modular fashion – that is, you may find only certain chapters or sections of it applicable to the UDL work you are engaged in at any particular time. In a broad overview:
- Chapter 1: Introduction to Universal Design for Learning will provide the research foundations of UDL, an explanation for each of the three principles of UDL, and some guidelines for approaching course design (or redesign) from a UDL perspective.
- Chapter 2: Assessment and UDL will dig more deeply into using the UDL principles to design assessments that are flexible as well as rigorous.
- Chapter 3: UDL & Best Practices for Technology-Enabled Learning will examine web accessibility as a means of reducing barriers to learning, and will provide additional technical guidance and information specific to the USask technology ecosystem.
A handful of downloadable resources are placed throughout this book (handy checklists, case studies, and reference documents). Refer to the Appendix of Downloadable Resources to find these all in one place.
You will also find a collected Glossary of Key Terms in the back matter of the book.
The authors wish to extend our thanks to the following people:
- Roberta Campbell-Chudoba, Educational Development Specialist, Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning – thank you for your assistance with reviewing this book, final editing, and for your keen attention to detail.
- Wendy James, Manager, Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning – thank you for providing guidance and ongoing feedback and support during the development of this book.