Access and Teaching: UDL and OER

At the Faculty Workshop on Course Design and Development (August 22, 2022), our colleagues from LAT (Library and Academic Technology) and OAS (Office of Academic Skills) shared lots of insights and strategies that help us think about how students access our courses and materials. Two acronyms were circulated that would be worth some further reading and reflection as we head into the first weeks of the semester–and, inevitably, start the process of revising and composing how we might teach the course differently.

Justine Khadduri, Director of OAS, referred to UDL or Universal Design for Learning. Below are links for the handout on UDL principles that Justine distributed, and a sample of statements you might include on your syllabus referring to OAS and disability access.

You can read more about the UDL guidelines and principles at the Center for Applied Special Technology. This article, “Tuning Your Pedagogical Practices: Building a Universal Teaching Environment,” offers some additional resources and strategies for bringing UDL principles into course design. The author highlights the way UDL broadens the understanding of accommodations:

UDL practices benefit all students whereas accommodations take a reactive approach and only support the student who has requested them.

For book-length reading on UDL, Tobin and Behling’s Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education is helpful. They emphasize micro-level adoption, start with one or two assignments or sections of a course and make some adjustments informed by UDL principles and guidelines. Sean Meehan recently did some UDL research and development of course materials guided by this book; if anyone is interested in talking further or perhaps starting a learning community or discussion group focused on UDL. please let us know.

Alex Baker, Director of Public Services in Miller Library, introduced OER, open educational resources, as one way to address the issue of student access to our course materials, specifically the high price of texts we might require for a course. You can learn more about OER and explore resources that might be available in your areas of teaching at the OER Commons and also the Maryland Open Source Textbook Commons. Alex also referred to the Creative Commons, which you can learn about here. Other options for addressing access to reading materials include working with the library on course reserves (both hard copy and electronic) and reproducing selected material that is supported by the fair use principle of copyright rules. See Andrea Boothby Rice, Public Services Librarian in Miller, for questions or assistance.

For those interested in further discussion, please follow up with Alex and our colleagues in Miller Library. You may also consider starting a learning community on open access resources or UDL. Please let us know how we might might further support your interests.

Additional Resources and Ideas for Access in Teaching and Learning that you might use in your syllabus design and the beginnings of your course this semester. Emily organized a few pointers for thinking about Accessibility and Inclusion in syllabus design and in the beginnings of a semester–see the slides below presented at a new faculty orientation session.

Many of resources linked below are also available in our Resources section of The Catalyst and the CTL Resources archive in Canvas:

Syllabus Templates, Learning Objectives, Important Dates

Accessibility, Inclusion, and Equity Resources

[Image Credit: Nick Shockey, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International License]

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