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Universal Design for Learning

The Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) recently updated UDL theory and best practices for higher education. The 45-minute workshop on “Universal Design for Learning is for Everyone, and Their Phones, Too” supports this broader mission of student retention and satisfaction by applying Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in higher-education course design, using

• multiple means of representing information,
• multiple ways for learners to take action and express their learning, and
• multiple means of learner engagement.
UDL strategies are typically discussed as ways of accommodating learners with disabilities, but they make online environments more engaging and flexible for all learners. This workshop provides participants with five specific actions they can take in order to incorporate UDL principles into their courses:
• Start new design processes with text.
• Create or find alternate versions of all multimedia.
• Design at least one alternate way for learners to demonstrate each course objective.
• Break up complex learners tasks into separate components.
• Expand, document, and share interactions within online course environments using free or low-cost tools.
Thomas J. Tobin, Coordinator of Learning Technologies, Northeastern Illinois University
Thomas J. Tobin is the Coordinator of Learning Technologies in the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at Northeastern Illinois University. In the field of online-teaching evaluation, he is best known for his work on administrative-evaluation practices and policy development; his article on “Best Practices for Administrative Evaluation of Online Faculty” (2004) is considered a seminal work in the field, and has been cited in more than 150 publications. Since the advent of online courses in higher education in the late 1990s, Tom’s work has focused on using technology to extend the reach of higher education beyond its traditional audience. He advocates for the educational rights of people with disabilities and people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Tom serves on the editorial boards of the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration and the Journal of Interactive Online Learning, and he speaks and publishes in many areas related to distance education, including copyright, evaluation of teaching practice, academic integrity, and universal design for learning.