Ep 3: Making UDL work for everyone with Thomas J. Tobin

On today’s episode, Lillian talks with Thomas J. Tobin about how UDL reduces barriers to learning while maintaining academic rigor. They talk about how UDL is about so much more than accessibility, how UDL can be done poorly or very well, and how to apply UDL principles easily in single classes or at the system level across the university. They also discuss the reason why he wrote his recent book with co-author Kirsten Behling, Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education.

Resources:

UDL on Campus This is a great resource for UDL in Higher Education settings produced by CAST, the creators of the UDL guidelines.

UDL Progression Rubric This self-grading progression rubric is perfect for those educators who would like to know how they are doing in their own practice of UDL implementation.

From Accommodation to Accessibility: Creating a Culture of Inclusivity  This article helps you, and perhaps your administrators, understand why UDL is so important.

Universal Design for Learning and Digital Accessibility: Compatible Partners or a Conflicted Marriage? A great article that explains how UDL and digital accessibility’s perceived tensions can be reduced when institutions create and follow an implementation plan.

Silent World Facebook Video Did you know that 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound? How we think learners receive information may not always be correct! Options are important.

The Evolution of an Accidental Meme This meme has had so many versions. This article, from the original progenitor, brings up many nuanced understandings of what the differences are between equity, equality, justice, and barrier reduction!

Tom Tobin’s website to learn more about or contact him

Reach Tom Tobin on LinkedIn

Reach Tom on Twitter @ThomasJTobin

Behling, K. & Tobin, T. J. (2018). Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press.  https://wvupressonline.com/node/757. And save 20% with the code: REACHTEACH
Tom’s other books include:  Evaluating Online Teaching, and The Copyright Ninja.

Transcript

[Lillian] Welcome to Think UDL, the Universal Design for Learning podcast where we hear from the people who are designing and implementing strategies with learner variability in mind.

[00:00:11]

[Music]

[00:00:16]

[Lillian] I’m your host Lillian Nave and I’m interested in not just what you’re teaching learning guiding and facilitating but how you design and implement it and why it even matters

[00:00:30]

[Music]

[00:00:39]

[Lillian] Welcome to episode 3 of the think UDL podcast where my guest today is Thomas J. Tobin who along with Kirsten Behling co-authored the book Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education now available from West Virginia University Press.

Tom is an internationally recognized speaker and author on topics such as copyright, evaluation of teaching practice, academic integrity, accessibility, and Universal Design for Learning

Welcome Tom to the think UDL podcast!

[00:01:19]

[Thomas] Well thank you very much Lillian I’m glad to be here and I’m hopeful that our conversation will be useful for your listeners and we can point them to some practical useful takeaways during our time together today

[00:01:30]

[Lillian] Absolutely, I’ve really enjoyed listening to your presentations when we were at the CAST conference this past year and particularly enjoy with the little lightsabers and wonderful things that you’ve added to so many of your presentations that make it so interesting for everyone.

Can you tell me why you decided to write your book Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education with your co-author Kirsten Behling?

Why did you decide to write it and why did you decide to write it right now?

[00:02:10]

[Thomas] I’ve specialized in my career for a long long time on things that tend to scare the heck out of faculty members, staff members, senior leaders on campus things like copyright, things like academic integrity, things like evaluating online teaching, and the other part of my expertise was always inclusive design and Universal Design for Learning.

Kirstin Behling on the other hand as a Disability Services Coordinator she was relatively new to UDL because from a disability services perspective those folks are doing amazing work on our campuses in colleges and universities across the United States and Canada making one change one time for one person. They’re in the trenches fighting for people with disabilities, people with title nine challenges you know folks who perhaps have been through rough things in their lives like assaults or sexual harassment and therefore they need to have something go differently in their studies in order for them to be successful so it’s not just people with disabilities and Kirsten and her colleagues were finding that their workload over the past five years especially has skyrocketed.

Now that is probably a good thing more people feel comfortable coming forward and saying hey I need a hand please treat me differently something isn’t going right let’s figure out how we can make the college experience go more smoothly and give me a better chance to be successful but at the same time she was a little frustrated because so many people were coming forward and her faculty colleagues were also frustrated because they had so much more work now to make these individual accommodations for people with disabilities or other barriers to learning

And so when we connected we started talking about Universal Design for Learning which we both knew was just a way of thinking about the interactions that we have with our learners so that fewer people will have to put a hand up and say treat me differently fewer people will say make one change one time just for me and so as we started thinking about why that trend was moving in the direction of many more people seeking accommodations we started to think well isn’t there a way that we could make it so that fewer people would even have to bother with accommodations

Both of us authors are in the jobs where our job is to put ourselves out of work we really do want to make learning interactions design them so that fewer people have to request accommodations fewer people have to say treat me differently we’re battling against a common mindset that accessibility is just for people with disabilities it’s about those people over there and with the book we wanted to put it together right now because we have now reached a point where everybody’s got a mobile phone in their pocket

86% of US adults and Canadian adults own a smartphone 93% of college students do and so we have now reached a moment where if we have any learning question at all whether it’s part of our college and university experience or it’s just our experiences in our everyday lives a pipe bursts under my sink I want to find a good Chinese restaurant that’s close to me my child has a fever and I don’t know what to do the first call isn’t to the doctor or the plumber or to go to the restaurant section of the Yellow Pages for those of you young people listening Yellow Pages was a book that actually listed all the businesses in your area right the fact that I have to say that tells me that where we go is our smart phones hey Google hey Siri where can I find a plumber how do I stop this fever where are these restaurants near me and because we go to our mobile devices for learning tasks that are simple universal design for learning dovetails right into that and so if we can give people choices and how they search for information get information demonstrate their skills and stay motivated then we are giving students just 20 more minutes for study that they might not have had before in their day and that can be the difference between I’m struggling and I’m keeping up so that’s why we wrote the book and why we wrote it right now

[00:06:53]

[Lillian] So your new book addresses learning for so many students not just those with disabilities can you tell me more about how Universal Design for Learning helps other students perhaps those who do not have a disability or who choose not to disclose a learning disability to their professor or to the University or do not ask for any accommodation at all how does UDL help other students and isn’t this going to be a lot of work for our instructors?

[00:07:26]

[Thomas] One of the things that UDL really helps with and this is the promise of what we’re looking at in our book and when we talked to experts across the United States and Canada this was the message that came through loud and clear.

First Universal Design for Learning is work it is effort that you need to do above and beyond just the usual design practices that we have but the silver lining to that statement is that it’s work that pays you back if you’re a faculty member designing the interactions that you have ahead of time in an inclusive way mean that fewer students are going to ask you the same question by email 700 times fewer students are going to get things wrong on the tests & quizzes forcing you to reteach things and fewer students are going to say “oh yeah hey professor Nave that was great but I still don’t get it” and they’re gonna ask you for a different explanation or to have some other perspective on something

So, the argument for UDL is that:

A) It’s not just for people with disabilities it’s for everybody and especially by reframing it in terms of mobile learners is a good way to think.

and

B) It’s work that pays you back.

And here’s the other cool thing on top of that. Because our learners are so varied we can’t assume that just like we wouldn’t never assume that everyone is a white male in our classes

[00:08:59]

[Lillian] Right, Right

[00:09:00]

[Thomas] We can never assume that everyone is neurotypical we can never assume that everyone is actually there and able to pay attention at the same rate at the same level on the same day so if we design our interactions with our learners to take advantage of that variability we’re actually doing ourselves a favor

So in the book we talk about those three things that I just talked about where do you have the pain points in the teaching or the interactions that you have with your learners those are great places to start with Universal Design for Learning where do the students ask you that same question 700 times where do they get things wrong on the tests where do they ask for alternate explanations so instead of trying to retrofit absolutely all of the interactions you have with your learner’s to be more inclusive it’s a good thing to think about those three questions and just start there it’s a great way for designers instructors and campus leaders to put a toe in the water in terms of accessibility in terms of good inclusive design

[00:10:05]

[Lillian] So that’s really fantastic for me to hear for us to hear as instructors we don’t have to change everything overnight how what an enormous task that would be but if we can just tweak one thing in a course that’s going to make a huge difference

And I’ve got to tell you a story. when I teach my first-year students I was finding that I had all these great things planned during the class and then students would show up and they hadn’t done the reading that I had assigned and we know that you know there’s lots of time crunches there’s so many differing attention-seeking devices you know for our first-year students that I thought how is it that I can motivate them that they’re going to remember to be prepared for class and I have a little reading recap quiz which is something that just is a minimal something to check off with minimal points but it does give a little motivation but I found that the sending an email to my students to say looking forward to discussing this don’t forget these chapters.

Now of course they’ve had the syllabus since the beginning of the semester they know what’s expected but just that little nudge helped a little bit with that executive function challenge of when do I start no I’m gonna start before the pizza party or after the pizza oh that little bit changed my entire course and that’s the only tweak that I did you know from one semester to the other was that little tweak about executive function right one of those students gonna start it and if I could just remind them hey remember we’re gonna be talking about this tomorrow I need you to come in with this done and it’s not like I never told him to read they knew it they ever we had this understanding but that small took me two minutes right to send out an email to everyone in the course what a huge difference.

And so the learning absolutely increase and that wasn’t painful right but it was it got a lot of fantastic results I bet I’m wondering I’m sure you have some stories or examples from folks in the book or what you’ve done is just one small thing can really cause some great dividends

[00:12:25]

[Thomas] Absolutely and the story you’re talking about is a splendid one Lillian you mentioned the words executive functioning that’s something from psychology and neuroscience it talks about why are we motivated to learn anything and executive functioning most of us know it in a more layman’s term way as time management how do we make sure that we have enough time that we can pay attention during that time and that we’re getting the information and ideas that we need to do that we make sure that we’re studying in a quiet space or we have music on our headphones if that’s what works for us.

But executive function is a huge huge thing and I imagine all of our colleagues in colleges and universities across North America who are listening to this podcast if I asked you what are the two biggest challenges for your students the first one’s going to be time management and the second one’s going to be they don’t read the materials so your story about your students not reading the lecture notes or the journal articles or other resources that you provide for them your foundation is an excellent one so just sending out that quick reminder hey I’m looking forward to working with everybody on these chapters that reminder at the point of need at the time when they might want to start studying or might want to start reading is a really great way to help them with time management and executive function let’s build on that too that’s a really good way to start thinking about universe Design for Learning

[00:13:59]

[Lillian] So I found that I would send out an email to my students at about 10 o’clock like late at night right before the assignment was due the next day and even though that was pretty late it seemed to be a good time to get the students attention enough to remind them to do the reading if they hadn’t already and it seemed to get it done before class

[00:14:23]

[Thomas] Absolutely and here’s some statistics that we love to share when our students are most active in the learning management systems that we have at our colleges and universities during the during the day it’s between 11 a.m. local time and 1:30 p.m. so the lunch hour and then the other spike is between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. our students are burning the midnight oil our students have work responsibilities family responsibilities they are military deployed learners they have all kinds of barriers in their lives.

In fact when we talk about distance education we’ve conquered distance we can reach up to students who are you know various distances from our campuses the big barrier that we have to address now is the clock so if we can give the our students 20 more minutes for studying that they didn’t have before and this goes back to building on your example Lillian so if you send out that email message that says hey I’m looking forward to it there’s two other things you can do that really help your learner’s and it’s a good way to start with UDL.

One of them is when you give your students something to read watch or experience also tell them how long it’s going to take this is like takes no time at all to figure this out and so if how do you do that a good sort of back-of-the-envelope way is you read it and then give your students half again as much time so if it takes you 10 minutes tell them 15 if it takes you 20 minutes tell them half an hour and just at the top of that reading assignment if it says estimated reading time 30 minutes then a student who is doing her laundry at the laundromat at night will say “Oh while that while my stuff is in the washing machine I can read this and I can plan for when I can do this

Now there will be some of us who say “Oh the things that Tom and Lillian are talking about that’s coddling our students that’s too much hand-holding these students are adults shouldn’t they know how to manage their time?” yeah I agree they should know and in many cases they don’t and so one of the challenges is what Universal Design for Learning is all about is lowering barriers to access it is not dumbing down the rigor of the content that we are assessing with our students it is not making it easier for students to get or find the information or think about it we’re not actually saying oh instead of reading this long journal article just read this bullet point summary of the journal article that’s not Universal Design for Learning

But if we have a journal article and we provide that in a way that a reader program could read it out loud then imagine you have a student who is a single dad and he has to drop his daughter off at school on one side of town and then he has to fight through traffic to get to his job on the other side of town and he’s taking an evening class from us if he could download a read out loud program from the Google iPhone store or from the Android Google Play Store and there’s a bunch of them out there for free that will take any PDF or any Microsoft Office document and just read what’s in it out loud to you that single dad can hook his phone into the Bluetooth device on his in his car and have that journal article read out loud to him while he’s sitting in traffic

[00:18:04]

[Lillian] So I’m curious to what are the challenges of implementing UDL we can do UDL poorly if we just say to our students here show me how you do this it’s your choice but that can be paralyzing to students sometimes there are too many choices and they really want structure and structure’s a really good thing so how do we implement UDL well

[00:18:32]

[Thomas] One of the challenges that we face as designers generally is that our learners come to us seeking subject expertise so we are experts in our subjects and we’re going to share that with them but they also come to us seeking ways of being in our fields and this is a challenge not only just for mathematicians but also for art historians nursing faculty members HVAC folks you name it how do I approach this study of the field so that I can get the expertise and if we can give students even one more path through that information through that design a way to sort of be a scholar in the field that’s what really moves the needle for a universal design for learning

[00:19:25]

[Lillian] So thinking about this learner variability makes me wonder Tom what makes you unique or different as a learner

[00:19:38]

[Thomas] For myself in business in the jobs and positions I’ve held you often hear the phrase being a big fish in a small pond.

[00:19:48]

[Lillian] Yeah, absolutely

[00:19:50]

[Thomas] Like you know the valedictorian of your class and you want to be the person who moves the business forward because you know everything about the field you want to be the faculty member who is an expert in the field

[00:20:01]

[Lillian] A mover and a shaker

[00:20:03]

[Thomas] Yeah! I never wanted to be a mover and a shaker I wanted to be a big fish in the wrong pond

[00:20:10]

[Lillian] Interesting what do you mean by that

[00:20:12]

[Thomas] What I mean by that is my doctorate is in English literature and I’ve never practiced as an English professor

[00:20:20]

[Lillian] Really?

[00:20:22]

[Thomas] I have another master’s degree in Library and Information science I’ve never practiced as a librarian I’ve always wanted to go and take those skills and apply them in fields where they traditionally weren’t applied so coming into neuroscience coming into faculty development coming into curriculum design all of those education related fields I was able to take my humanities and Social Sciences background and say let’s look at this from a different perspective

So you know in terms of copyright I’m not a lawyer I really love the idea of being able to simplify a concept do the deep research and learning on it but then simplify it so that people can think “oh well this I can put my head around this it’s not so bad I can approach this I can take a first step” and as a learner myself I’ve always loved nerding out and diving into a field and then coming back and being able to explain it in a way that other folks could understand it get excited about learning more and then keep moving with their own learning

It’s, and it’s funny you talked about how I like to dive in on something take a pause and then come back on my morning training runs I’m training for a half marathon right now my morning training runs is when things usually solidify and I think oh I should do that in terms of structure I can put that together I’m a huge believer that we’ve got processing cycles in our brains that only come alive when we’re not really paying attention to anything else

There’s a few scholars these days who talk about the importance of boredom or the importance of unfocused attention and I was always that kid and I’m still that adult as well that I really value the times when I’m not plugged into a phone I’m not constantly communicating with others or seeking input and information does that make me a Luddite does that make me an anti tech person no but I do recognize that you know when I’m asleep when I’m in the shower when I’m going for a run those are opportunities for my brain to wander a little bit and I come up with good connections and I start making connections with things that I’m learning about and I’m excited about so those are things that we really want to preserve as learners and a little bit of that sneaks into the book too so I’m glad you asked thank you

[00:22:55]

[Lillian] I really believe in that time away and time apart and how valuable that is for our brains. I love to hike. I can’t do the long running anymore. One half marathon five years ago was it for me, but I love hiking. I live in the mountains in North Carolina and I remember really clearly being on a hike and thinking about one problem in my class, which was a teacher in a general education course and all the students expect it’s going to be an A and they hate being there because it’s required and so there’s a lot of motivational problems and in teaching that class motivation for the students. I really like it, but the students aren’t that motivated and that problem about: here they are thinking they should have a hundred and at the end of the semester if they don’t, they expect an explanation from me about why they don’t have it. So on this hike I thought I need to completely reimagine my grading system so that it’s much more competency-based or mastery-based, where they’re building up a grade and they have no more grades; actually they’re called learning opportunities. For each learning opportunity they can accrue a certain amount of learning opportunity points to make it from zero to two-thousand; so it’s about effort and mastery and no longer about “well I did the assignment why don’t I have a hundred,” or you know instead of explaining that starting at a hundred and chipping away like I’m the one that’s chipping away at their hundred. I thought about climbing this mountain with these learning opportunities and having to build it and I never would have come to that had I not been on a probably six-hour hike and thinking about it and just having that time to get away from it and come back. I think it’s so valuable.

[00:24:55]

[Thomas] Your putting your finger on something that we really stress in the book and that is for Universal Design for Learning it actually frees us up as instructors to get away from being the grade police.

[Lillian] Yes .

[00:25:14]

[Thomas] One of the pieces of advice that actually has very little to do with Universal Design for Learning is, I always tell learning designers, instructors: grade a lot less of what you’re asking your students to do. Give them practice opportunities and perhaps those things tie into your grade in a cumulative way. So, if there are ten practice opportunities and your students do nine of them successfully, then maybe that counts for five percent of your grade, but it’s a checkmark; you did it or you didn’t. Then the idea of doing the practice is: come to class and tell us why you knew this stuff or why you don’t know this stuff. And then it turns into conversation, then it turns into oh here’s something that I need to dive into, here’s something that I need to practice with. It becomes more of that Socratic dialogue that a lot of us got into teaching, design, and higher education in the first place in order to do.

[00:26:16]

[Lillian] Yes. Right! So thinking about designing and including UDL and how we design things having that as our guideline. I was curious again about what sort of barrier or barriers have you found (have you encountered), either as a teacher or as a learner, and how have you been able to address them.

[00:26:42]

 [Thomas] When I started out with my PhD studies I was going to be an English professor. In fact, my very first book is in nineteenth-century literary and art historical studies. I was a scholar of the Pre-Raphaelite artists and poets in 19th century Britain.

[00:26:59]

 [Lillian] On that we share a love and passion for art history.

[00:27:04]

[Thomas] and what changed my entire career was an experience that I had. I was working back in the late 1990s. It was my first professional job. I hadn’t even finished my PhD studies and I got hired by a two-year college in Pennsylvania to help them create online courses. Now, this is back when nobody had online courses.

[Lillian] That’s really a big thing.

[Thomas] Right. You can tell how old I am when I say I helped them to adopt blackboard version one.

[Lillian] Wow. Oh my.  

[00:27:38]

[Thomas] So yeah, I’ve been around for a minute and many of the faculty colleagues with whom I worked were very excited to try out the idea of an asynchronous online course, but not Marty in the business area. Marty thought that it was all a bunch of hooey and that nothing would replace face-to-face instruction, but he came to me and he said “I want to teach an online course not because I think it’s great but because I see the handwriting on the wall, this is what’s going to happen and it’s going to happen with or without me and I better get on it,” so he said, “I want to teach my intro to business course online.” Now, what you don’t know yet is that Marty had gone blind in his 40s due to complications from undiagnosed and untreated diabetes.

[Lillian] Wow.

[00:28:31]

[Thomas] So, he didn’t really know how to be a person with a visual disability. he didn’t walk with a cane, he didn’t know touch typing on a keyboard, he couldn’t read Braille. So, you know I was a young professional and I said, “yeah of course I’ll help you,” and then I turned to my computer and I said, “surely the literature will tell me what to do,” and there was no literature.

 [Lillian] Wow.

[00:29:00]

[Thomas] I panicked for a moment and I acted. I was very fortunate I ran into Norm Coombs. I ran into Norm who was a professor in Rochester. He had been blind since birth and he was an advocate for the rights of faculty members with teaching barriers. I wrote to him and he was very kind and generous with his time and he helped me to understand some of the challenges that I might come across, but I worked with Marty and we actually were able to design an online course with him and he taught it for three semesters. You know how we did it? This is before there was jaws or read speaker or any of the tools that would read things out loud to you. So, how we did it was we got graduate students from one of the local universities to be Marty’s eyes and ears. Since he had been a sighted person, he knew when we said imagine a television screen that has these icons, and these things on it, and these buttons are down the left-hand side. So, he sort of memorized what the learning management system looked like and then when students would post information or take part in a discussion or send papers to him, the graduate students whom we had hired would be his eyes and ears. They would read things out loud to him, he would give feedback, and the graduate students would put it in, and so on and so forth; and it worked splendidly well. I was very proud of my work that I had done with Marty and some other colleagues until I realized that we were violating FERPA privacy laws 17 different ways and we really had to stop. Now with the level of difficulty of just helping Marty, I thought, if it took this much effort and it was this hard and we still didn’t get it right. It was in the end a failure. That failure caused me to look around and think, “okay if that was that hard, who else are we not serving well or maybe not serving at all.” I started seeing rural learners who lived a long distance from campus, students with work responsibilities, family responsibilities, military deployments, people who worked odd shifts and couldn’t come to campus. I started thinking maybe I should start focusing on these folks because one of the big challenges for all colleges and universities is finding new students. It costs a lot of money to bring a student in the front door.

[00:31:45]

[Lillian] Yes it does and we want them to stay.

[Thomas] Right, and it costs a lot less money to keep them there once you’ve got them.

[Lillian] Absolutely.

[00:31:53]

[Thomas] So, if we can reach out to students who are in our service areas already, and that’s the majority of our growth these days in the United States and Canada. We conquered distance a long time ago and most of us, unless we’re you know, the university of New Southern, New Hampshire University, or one of the big online players like Western Governors. Most of us figured out that we’re not going to be getting students from Hawaii, and Montana, and Manitoba, and France. That we’re going to be reaching out to students who live within 15 or 20 miles of campus and if we can reach out to those students and give them even a little bit of a study advantage, even a little bit more access, that is something that we tell our senior leaders about. That has to do with increasing student persistence, retention, and satisfaction. That’s like the holy grail of what Provost’s and Chancellor’s and presidents stay up nights worrying about. We’ve got data that shows that being more inclusive in our design, adopting the UDL framework, on top of the things we’re already doing. So, if we’re into flipped learning or we’re into active classroom, we don’t have to change that in order to be inclusive along with it. UDL is a framework that goes along with instead of replaces the way we teach; and because that’s true, it increases student persistence. The students who are there on day one are more likely to be there to take the exam; it increases student retention. The students who take a class from Professor Tom this semester are more likely to be there to take a class from Professor Lillian next semester; it increases student satisfaction. They’re more likely to find value in their experience because they have more control over how they pass through their stuff and they’re more likely to recommend your institution to their friends. So, those are things that we tell our senior leaders about and that’s one of the chapters in our book where we move from ‘what is UDL and how do you do it on a small scale’ to ‘how do you make this part of your campus culture (how do you convince your leadership team that this is worth doing at a certain level for everybody)’.

[00:34:04]

[Lillian] It makes a lot of sense, I mean, and if you can convince an administrator then you’re going to be able to implement something; absolutely, that’s the important part. I have one more question for you Tom and you’ve answered it already many times, but I wanted to give you the opportunity to see if there is anything else that I’ve missed in talking about UDL. That’s my question, is how has UDL changed the way you teach or learn and already many examples of how it’s changed even your whole job search and what your career, but I wanted to give you that opportunity. If there’s anything else that you think UDL has done that’s changed the way you teach or learn I’d love to know about that.

[00:35:00]

[Thomas] Thank you. This is an important core of how I approach all of my learning interactions now. I used to see students as one audience and I had the mindset of, “I’m giving you the information, I’m sharing this with lectures and conversations and I’m giving it my best. They don’t you get it.” I was very concerned early on in my career about why weren’t all of my students learning well and what could I do better to reach out to them, but I kept reaching out in the same way that I tended to learn best; and because I was one of the ‘A’ students, I wasn’t one of the struggling students.

[00:35:50]

[Lillian] Right, you were good at learning.

[Thomas] That’s most of us who are professors, who are teaching center people, who are learning designers, who are administrators in colleges and universities. That’s most of us. We were the good students.

[00:36:03]

[Lillian] So we tend to repeat that. Right? We want to do exactly what we learned how to do.

[Thomas] Absolutely and there are extremes on this spectrum.

[Lillian] Yes.

[00:36:15]

[Thomas] So there was a professor at a university in Florida who refused to give his lecture notes out ahead of time because he thought no one would come to class and even when students with disabilities said I have this accommodation please give it to me ahead of time he refused. Now that’s an extreme on this spectrum. The other extreme is, “oh I just let students do whatever they want and you know I’m really open to what students bring to the table.” I think Universal Design for Learning allows us to keep some structure in the interactions that we have with our learners, while maintaining that high level of academic rigor in our subject matter in our field, while lowering the barrier for getting access to that information, and demonstrating skills in the first place. That’s what’s powerful about UDL.

[00:37:10]

[Lillian] Thanks so much Tom for your time today. I really appreciate you talking to me on the think UDL podcast.

[00:37:17]

[Thomas] Thank you very much Lillian, and to all of our Think UDL listeners, thank you very much for this podcast. If you’re interested in continuing this conversation I’d love to put together just a 20-minute phone call, hear what’s going on in your college or university, and see if there’s ways we can work together down the line. My website is just my name ThomasJTobin.com and you can find all kinds of cool resources there and I’d love to see if I can help you in some way. So, Lillian, thank you again for inviting me on and I’ll see everybody on the road. Take care.

[Lillian] Thanks Tom.

[Music]

[00:37:58]

[Lillian] You can follow the think UDL podcast on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to find out when new episodes will be released and also see transcripts and additional materials at the thinkUDL.org website. The think UDL podcast is made possible by College STAR. The STAR stands for Supporting Transition Access and Retention in post-secondary settings and the website provides free resources and instructional aids based on UDL principles. If you’d like to know more, go to the CollegeStar.org website. Additional support for the podcast is made possible by Appalachian State University where if you call it Appalachian I’ll throw an apple at you. The music on the podcast was performed by the odyssey quartet comprised of Rex Shepherd, David Pate, Bill Folwell, and Jose Cochez. Our sound engineer is Tanner Jones, our social media coordinator is Reuben Watson, and I am your host Lillian Nave. Thank you for joining us on the think UDL podcast.

[Music]