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LVAIC Teagle Universal Design Keynote & Workshop

January 25, 2019 @ 8:30 am - 12:00 pm


Presenter and Facilitator: Thomas J. Tobin, PhD, MSLS, PMP, MOT, CPACC

Register now for either the keynote, the workshop, or both! Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Keynote “Access & Accessibility: Why Residential Learners Do Hybrid Programs Better”


In this interactive keynote presentation, we will talk about Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as a way to structure hybrid courses and service interactions for learners at residential colleges. We’ll talk about what UDL is (and isn’t), and how a simple mental shift can help us to reach out to our learners and give them just 20 more minutes for study and interaction in their busy days. How many of your students come to class actually having read the materials and fully prepared? We will talk about concrete strategies that help to increase that number by giving students more, and more flexible, time for study that they didn’t have before.

You will learn what Universal Design for Learning is all about, especially as newly revised for higher education. You will discover how to implement UDL in the design of your course and service interactions, creating spaces for best teaching and support practices to take place—in the classroom and beyond. This is best accomplished through an incremental approach, using a “next 20” series of milestones—achievements that can be attained in the next 20 minutes, 20 days, and 20 months.

You’ll also find out where to find help and collaboration at your institution: recent research from CAST and the Center for Universal Design in Education suggests that institutions whose faculty-support staff members also use UDL see better adoption rates and deeper penetration of UDL principles across all courses.

Workshop: “Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone with Universal Design for Learning”


The colleges in the LVAIC consortium aim to make educational materials, practices, and interactions more inclusive and useful for all learners. This interactive workshop radically reflects on how faculty members and course designers can adopt the Universal Design for Learning framework in order to create learning interactions that

  • provide students with better access to learning,
  • offer learners more time for study and practice in their busy days, and
  • save faculty members time and effort in the bargain.

This workshop uses active-learning techniques and provides take-away resources for participants. By relating UDL to broader access benefits for all learners, this workshop’s activities serve as a model for participants to re-frame accessibility and inclusion conversations.

We can accomplish these goals by broadening our focus away from learners with disabilities and toward a larger ease-of-use/general-inclusion mindset. You will learn practical use-them-tomorrow strategies for increasing student access to learning—without having to change what or how you teach.


“Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone” is structured as two 50-minute workshop sessions with a break in between, each of which scaffolds to build on the ideas and skills from the previous learning and the keynote session. This workshop posits diversity in its most inclusive form: instead of relying solely on providing accommodation services to learners with disabilities—which is most often a last-minute, ad-hoc, reactive process—adopting UDL as part of an institution’s culture of course design, teaching practices, and support services allows all learners to benefit, regardless of their place on the ability spectrum.

Session 1: Expanding Learner Choices

In the second part of our workshop, we will examine the linked concepts of learner variability and construct relevance. From cultural and linguistic proficiences, to unbridled enthusiasm for study, to anxiety about the challenges ahead, students vary. Reducing cognitive, linguistic, executive, and affective barriers is of vital importance as students negotiate university expectations differently, according to their widely ranging background experiences.

The purpose of assessment in post-secondary courses varies, as well. Assessments are often designed to gather student data that will yield information about accountability, student progress, and instruction.

  • Accountability: Assessing student performance with respect to job preparation, prerequisites, and university or college program goals
  • Student Progress: Assessing changes in student performance over time as a result of instruction (assessment of learning)
  • Instruction: Probing student responses to instruction in order to optimize the course of learning (assessment for learning)

Assessment is used in courses to determine how well students are meeting goals that have been set (e.g., goals around job performance, goals around changes in knowledge). Measurable outcomes from assessments should be comparable with or benchmarked against set course goals. Assessment outcomes, in turn, should inform further instruction.

In this part of our workshop, you will practice how to make interactions and documents more accessible—not just for people with disabilities, but for learners who are using the time, devices, and methods that their circumstances often dictate. You will craft an assignment for one of your courses that increases student choices about how they demonstrate their skills, without changing the criteria by which you grade the assignment. You’ll also learn to spot (and reduce) barriers to learner proficiency that don’t apply to what you’re actually grading, making it easier for students to focus on what they know, while maintaining the academic rigor of your course.

Session 2: How to Talk to Your Colleagues about UDL

We will wrap up our time together with a session devoted to take-aways. Our not-so-secret goal is to enable you to become “quiet evangelists” for UDL techniques. During our final session, you’ll learn how to determine where to start with UDL in the design and application of your course interactions. Especially if you’re an engaged and forward-thinking designer or instructor, accessibility can seem like a daunting task: “I recorded 82 two-minute videos to support my course already. Now I have to have them all captioned? By yesterday?”

We can see the scope of what we think is the challenge and then suffer from “analysis paralysis,” where we don’t even start at all because the obstacle is too big. In this final portion of our workshop, you’ll learn ways to

  • reduce the accessibility challenge down to a manageable set of tasks,
  • experiment with access methods in just a few key parts of your course’s interactions,
  • determine where UDL thinking can save you (and your students) time and effort, and
  • talk with your colleagues to help them get started with UDL, too.

You will leave our workshop with practical, hands-on strategies for expanding learner access and increasing student persistence, retention, and satisfaction—an outcome for which we have 30 years of evidence-based practice and research.

View the Universal Design Keynote and Workshop Presentation here.


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January 25, 2019
8:30 am - 12:00 pm
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Lehigh University – Mountaintop Campus, Tower Room
111 Research Drive
Bethlehem, PA 18015 United States
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