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Inclusive Interventions in Film & Media Studies with Bridget Kies

Welcome to Episode 107 of the Think UDL podcast: Inclusive Interventions in Film & Media Studies with Bridget Kies. Bridget Kies is an Assistant Professor of Film Studies and Production at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and the editor of the recently published “UDL in the Media Studies Classroom” which is a special issue of the Teaching Media journal. In this episode, Bridget and I discuss each of the essays in the special issue she edited, including her own, which touch on how to implement UDL strategies in course content and delivery and student expression, how to create community in online asynchronous courses as well as in-person courses, and ability and disability in media studies courses, the ethics of UDL and care, and how access is central to community. Even if you don’t teach in the realm of media studies, you’ll still find some excellent interventions and ways of thinking about your classes that will make them more inclusive and accessible using UDL.


Contact Bridget Kies via email at: or via Twitter @BridgetKies

Universal Design for Learning in the Media Studies Classroom (edited volume)




UDL, students, essays, teaching, media, assignment, film, model, class, studies, conversations, community, watch, grade, learners, design


Lillian Nave, Bridget Kies

Lillian Nave  00:02

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. 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. Welcome to Episode 107 of the Think UDL podcast, inclusive interventions in Film and Media Studies with Bridget Keyes. Bridget Keyes is an assistant professor of Film Studies and production at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and the editor of the recently published UDL in the media studies classroom, which is a special issue of the teaching media journal. In this episode, Bridget and I discuss each of the essays in this special issue she edited, including her own, which touch on how to implement UDL strategies, in course content and delivery and student expression, and how to create community and online asynchronous courses as well as in person courses, and ability and disability in Media Studies courses, the ethics of UDL and care, and how access is central to community. Even if you don’t teach in the realm of Media Studies, you’ll find some excellent interventions and ways of thinking about your classes that will make them more inclusive and accessible using UDL. Thank you to our sponsor Texthelp, a global technology company helping people all over the world to understand and to be understood, it has led the way in creating innovative technology for the workplace, and education sectors, including K 12. right through to higher education for the last three decades. So welcome Bridget keys to the think UDL podcast.

Bridget Kies  02:19

Thank you so much for having me.

Lillian Nave  02:21

I’m so glad we got a chance to talk today. I’m really glad that our mutual colleague, Christina Moore introduced me to your work. And I am excited to talk about the work you’ve done with the universal design for learning in media studies. But first, I want to ask what makes you a different kind of learner?

Bridget Kies  02:41

Me personally, yes, you as in like the universal you.

Lillian Nave  02:46

You personally, me personally.

Bridget Kies  02:48

Yeah. I think it’s really different from when I was a college student when I was a college student, I was totally fine with books and paper and lectures. And I find probably because of the social media age might have a really short attention span now. And I have to have visuals, you can’t just listen to things. And so I think that’s for me to learn anything, I’ve got to see it, I can’t just hear it. I’ve got to take written notes that I can see. I like images. And so I think I try to like remember that when I’m teaching my students to like, it’s really hard for me just to process something that’s audio only.

Lillian Nave  03:25

Yeah, I’m with you. I’ve definitely seen my attention span grow shorter. Just even in the last five years, I’ve definitely noticed it. And I used to be able to like key in on a long lecture. And I don’t think I have that skill anymore. It’s changed.

Bridget Kies  03:46

You know, I was also a theater major in college, and I grew up doing dance. And I think that also has made me really clued into kinetics and like the way that the body connects to the mind. And so I also I can sit quietly and do work for hours without getting bored. If it’s something I like, Yeah, but if it’s something that’s a stretch for me to study, I have to have moments where I get up and move or I learned while I’m moving. And sometimes I like to try to put that in my classes to like, let’s all let’s all get up and do a warm up together. Let’s do a breathing exercise together. So we can just sort of back our bodies with our minds and help us like, you know, focus in a little bit.

Lillian Nave  04:26

Yeah, another engaging technique for sure. And it throws our students into kind of a different place than the usual sitting down and listening and taking notes. Yeah. So So you’ve been doing some really great work with universal design for learning in Media Studies. And you’re actually the first person I get to interview that specifically in this area. So I wanted to ask you about this wonderful dossier of essays that you put together. And as Why did you decide to edit and create because you’re also one of the authors First of this essays on Universal Design for Learning in Media Studies.

Bridget Kies  05:06

Yeah. Well, the the sort of short version of this is that I was creating a course at Oakland University that I hadn’t taught before and that I don’t think had been offered before, at least not in my time, which was an LGBTQ cinema course. And the way our cinema courses are designed has always struck me as a little bit challenging for students. Prior to the pandemic, we were on a two day week model one day is lecture and discussion. One day is a film screening. Oh, and so for one day a week, students are sitting in the dark for two hours watching a movie, and then the lights go on, and then they all go home. And then we expect them to remember what they watched when they come back next week, and we talk about it. And that just struck me as really challenging model for learning. I don’t think I would succeed as a student in that model. Yeah. And, of course, the pandemic has changed that, you know, we online screenings, which is also challenging, and, you know, but so as I was creating this course, I was thinking like, what are the ways that we can make this more engaging for students, and more ideal for students? Like they have a shorter attention span, or can’t remember things over the weekend, because they also work a second job? And what if we broke up the screenings and had, you know, like, let’s watch a scene and then let’s talk about it. And then let’s watch another 20 minutes and talk about it or, you know, just different models that we could experiment with. And so that led me to learning about UDL, we had a couple of workshops on campus, and I was like, this is exactly what I’m talking about. How can we redesign the classic sort of lecture and discussion model into something that is much more engaging for students and exciting, frankly, for me. And so I put in a proposal to build this course, I’m using the principles of UDL, and I got a grant for it. And I did like really cool stuff, I thought, you know, really upsetting the traditional syllabus, as it had been done in my department. My colleagues are wonderful teachers, this isn’t to say that, you know, scheduling necessitates certain things happen, right aren’t always most exciting for students. Yeah. And then, because of that grant, part of the grant was that you need to disseminate your research in some way. And this sort of started taking off I, Nicole Hendricks from Columbia University, and I gave a workshop at the Society for cinema and Media Studies conference, about like, just how to slowly start implementing some of the principles of UDL in your class. And people really liked that. And it was, I think, transformative in that many people feel pedagogic can be off putting, and the jargon can be scary. Yes. And that you have to you’re going to learn that you’re a terrible teacher, and you have to do everything differently. And we, you know, our focus was like, no, no, try one thing. Yeah, just just change one thing. And then next semester, change one more. It just just just started taking off. And I thought, well, this seems like something that we’re not having enough discussions about in Film and Media Studies. And because so much of what we teach hinges upon, like I said, people sitting in the dark, quietly watching long media text, it seems like we really ought to be talking about this more, we ought to be talking about what we can do to that model, to really break it up and hit different kinds of learners. And so from there came the idea for the journal where I gathered together people who were doing some things. And maybe for pedagogy experts, we’re not doing everything perfectly, but we’re starting to change things. Yeah. And we’re adapting them to our discipline and thinking through different ways, but that traditional film school model can be can be upset.

Lillian Nave  08:36

Yeah, it’s been fantastic. And yes, that’s what I like about my chance, the opportunity I get to talk to people is really they’re experimenting, and trying to see how UDL can work in each particular area. So yeah, we’re not experts in doing this, but we’re all trying, we’re practitioners and, and I love this ability, this chance to talk to all these people with great ideas, and and they cross over, you know, so even if you’re not Media Studies, there’s, there’s gonna be some interesting ways to transfer some of some of these ideas. So there are five essays in the first three essays in that dossier by Ock, and Patterson, and then Moulton. And then you have one of those essays, document those interventions, in course design using UDL. And I was wanted to see if you could just give us an overview of what each of those essays what those authors learned in that UDL implementation.

Bridget Kies  09:42

Sure. Well, I’ll start with mine because it’s obviously the one I know that that the way as I said, I did build this LGBTQ cinema course and I really I also thought about like, what it means to be teaching to a target student population of LGBTQ students and What are the specific needs of that community? Now, not every student in the class was LGBTQ identified, of course. But I think there are certain things that, you know, the conventional teaching sometimes leaves out about LGBTQ students and our special needs as a community. Whether that’s like, proximity to gender neutral bathrooms, or I don’t know, I mean, I remember, I don’t think people do this anymore. But I remember when I first started teaching, and I had a student group leading the class, and they say, Okay, boys on one side girls on the other, and I was like, oh, first of all, we’re men and women, because we’re adults. Yeah, this is college. But also, like, really, are we going to do that we’re gonna be like binary about gender. Let’s not do that. You know, I think I think there’s, there’s certain like exigencies for the LGBTQ community. And also, you know, statistics on LGBTQ homelessness, and the way that, you know, systemic stress affects learning and things like that. So so I really felt like this was important to try to hit those kinds of different learners, and to keep all that stuff in mind. And they’re also it’s a Film and Media Studies program. And so people are trained in, in, in my program about how to make media to and so it just seems like, why am I giving them readings and telling them to write essays then? Yeah, there’s so many reasons, that doesn’t work for lots of people. And it also doesn’t like take into account what talents they do have. And so we had flexibility, for instance, with assignments. So sometimes I’d get a podcast, sometimes I get a video essay, sometimes I get a written paper with it was really dependent on what the student’s interests and talents were, as well as their access to technology. But one rule I did Institute was that if you did that, for assignment one, you had to take a different form for assignment two, gotcha. So that people could experiment and learn about how they best express themselves. Yeah. There’s some people thought, for instance, they loved doing podcasts. And they were really great at them. And they found like, no, actually what they were really great at was just turning on a mic and talking off the cuff for an hour. Yeah. And that’s not good learning. Right? Yeah. So when I made them do something else, it was like, suddenly, the work became so much better. Yeah. And so I felt like that was part of clearing the process of making the course which fits in with what the course, you know, content actually is right. That was sort of my approach. Carter Moulton, who I’ve known for over 10 years, now we were we baby master’s students together back in the day. Carter’s essay is really lovely. And it was actually I think, like, five to 7000 words. And for the scope of this dossier, we had to massively cut it down. So if anyone reads this and is interested, email Carter, because he has so many more wonderful ideas, but his focus is really about community learning. And what are the ways that we can encourage students to see us all as part of the same community and it’s not a top down hierarchy, or article model, but that we are not just learning from each other, but actually building the course together. And he feels like that encourages students are engaged. But it also sort of helps with some of the problems that we’ve had in Film and Media Studies in many disciplines of a sort of white centric, Eurocentric, you know, colonial sort of model of learning, right? And so he gives his students lots of opportunities to learn from each other, to create groups together to tell him what projects are going to be to share their work with the community, things like that. Really cool stuff going on. And they build websites for the class, and it’s really active and very high tech. And again, in Carter’s case, you know, it was a course that also was about digital media. And so the content and the delivery, and the expression that the students are giving all sort of gelled together.

Lillian Nave  13:55

So the the content is mirroring the process and is closely aligned with those multiple representations that we see in UDL.

Bridget Kies  14:05

Yeah, exactly. And I understand that that’s not something that can happen in every discipline, right? Like, maybe you can’t do that in a math class. Maybe you can. And I just don’t know math well enough. But, but certainly for like Film and Media Studies, it seems like we should be doing that a lot more, right? Because we live in this media saturated age where everyone is accessing media for fun, and everyone’s making media for fun. And so why don’t we also, you know, use media, in our homework instead of just written essays or just written readings, for instance.

Lillian Nave  14:35

Yeah, a lot of the times I’m talking to faculty, it is I see this, I guess pattern of when a faculty member really starts to reflect on their, their schooling and the way they learned right, and just the way it always has been, and that’s so easy to just replicate. In fact, that’s really what we’ve all done, or at least that’s what I’ve done. And many people I talked to, this is how you teach art history because this is how I learned art history. Yeah, yeah. And and unless you get specific pedagogy courses in your doctoral program, which are happening more and more, but aren’t happening a lot, or hadn’t been, it’s really difficult to take that critical eye and say, Is this the best way to learn this material? Is this the best way to teach it? And what really works for who we are today? Who the what the discipline is today. And UDL was such a great way I found that allows us to ask those questions and gives us some tools right to change things up to to bring it up to the 21st century, I guess, for our 21st Century learners.

Bridget Kies  15:53

Yeah, and you know, I’m talking a lot about students expression and representation, right, those two aspects of UDL. But I think the the why of learning, too, is part of the 21st century learning environment, especially for the Humanities. We live in an era where the humanities are just absolutely under siege by, you know, the wider public. Yeah, and certainly, like conservative groups and state legislators and, and so I think if we’re not having questions, asking questions in class and talking constantly about, like, why are we doing this? What did we learn from this assignment? What did we get out of this moment? You know, then I think we’re sort of failing as humanities educators. And so the other aspect of UDL, of course, is like, how are students engaging with the course? How do they understand the goal of their learning, or the why of what they’re learning? And, and I think that’s also like, so important that we start infusing much more of that. And not just at the end of the semester, right. But through every assignment through every, you know, class discussion.

Lillian Nave  16:55

Yeah, that self reflection is such a huge part of the engagement column on the cast guidelines. You know, that’s like, one of the nine squares right on the cast studio learning guidelines. And it isn’t just okay, at the end of the course, let’s let’s evaluate it. No, no, no, it’s why, why are we learning this way? How am I learning? How did I learn? How can I improve? The next time I’m working on this? And all of that is helping to build us as expert learners like to be able to be better learners in general? And you know, when you mentioned that the humanities are, they’re really being questioned to like, Why? Why should we study these things? Is the university just to get jobs? You know, lots of questions about why the university, and one of the things that I’ve noticed with my students and I teach first year students is they are at school, and they’re not exactly sure why they know they’re supposed to be there. And so it is one of the first things that we talk about is, you know, what does it mean to have a liberal arts education to be liberally educated in the general education, it’s not just to tick some boxes on your transcript, because you have to in order to graduate, but there are real skills that one would expect a college graduate has, you know, to be reflective, to think more broadly, to be an adaptive expert, rather than a routine expert, as Ken Bain mentions in his book, What the Best College students do, so that you can look at a problem and try to solve it rather than, well, you know what to do with this formula. But if you’ve got another problem, that the formula doesn’t work, then you can’t figure it out. That’s the kind of thinkers we want. And, and students? Yes, we’re teaching them that, but they don’t realize we’re teaching that. So I actually have to be really very obvious. And we talk about that, you know, that it’s not Oh, do you know what that was? That was some critical thinking skills. So you know, because they’ll go at the end, like, oh, I don’t think I did critical thinking like, oh, no, no, these five things. That was all critical thinking, but we had to kind of name it and claim it in the classroom. Yeah.

Bridget Kies  19:15

Okay. It could be it’s I think we’re often having those conversations as faculty when we’re doing curriculum development. You know, we’re having lots of conversations in my program right now about, do we want to update our curriculum, what courses shouldn’t shouldn’t be included? And so we’re thinking a lot about like, what is the ultimate goal of this class? You know, what, what are aside from the content that they’re learning? What are we trying to have them walk out of that class with? So we do those conversations a lot as faculty, but we have to remember to do them with the students because students as you said, they understand that they are in college to get a degree which will give them a good job.

Lillian Nave  19:50

They hope that they’ve been told yes, they hope they’re increasingly

Bridget Kies  19:53

skeptical about today’s you know, economic climate, but but that’s what they’re told right? But what they don’t understand is all The other stuff that you’re getting from it and how it connects to their life and what relevance any of this has to anything. And so like, we have to make sure that we’re having those conversations with students and not just in faculty groups.

Lillian Nave  20:11

Yes, yeah. And you mentioned the, like in your curriculum discussions, having skills, goals and understanding goals, which again, is another related to Universal Design for Learning is breaking up those things. So we don’t have that construct irrelevant variance, meaning we don’t have those things where Oh, I thought I was looking for this skill, but really, I was checking for this understanding, and I didn’t break them up. I didn’t design actually my assessment very well. And I’ve started in the last couple of years telling the students through Marian Wolcott Winkelmann, US has this great tilt transparency and in learning, teaching and learning that says you need to separate out and tell the students Okay, what do I want you to know what what, you know, things? What ideas what I want you to identify what theories? And then what skills? Do I want you to show me? Is it that you can write a five paragraph essay? Or is it that you can put together three ideas in a particular area, right, like, what’s the actual skill that I want you to know, and telling our students that so that they’re recognizing what they’re learning as far as knowledge and what skills they’re developing? Because, again, it’s a sort of like this foggy cloud they’re walking through, they don’t know exactly what they’re doing.

Bridget Kies  21:36

Yeah, well, especially because I think sometimes, as you said, we’re not we’re not transparent to them about what we’re actually assessing. We have secret assessments. Yes. And I think sometimes that’s because it’s subconscious to us, too. Yes, you know, so I taught a course that was required to have a writing portfolio at the end. It’s a it’s like an introductory to film and media theory course. And so at the end, we want this portfolio where they can demonstrate they’ve learned various theories in an in a rudimentary way and can express you know, how to apply those theories. But the secret assessment there, of course, is, is student’s writing skills. Yeah. Right. Like the surface assessment is we’re judging whether you understand these theories that we’ve taught you. But we’re not teaching you how to write. Yeah, but what we’re actually assessing is whether you’re a good writer, hmm. And so that’s silly. Yeah, you know, so. So again, something like UDL, where maybe they can express all of that stuff in video format, where they get to talk through their ideas might be useful. In my case, for that particular course, I found because it was a writing intensive course I needed to have them write, but I threw away the grading model. And so we moved to labor based grading through the student who had one student who is like one of my favorite students. But he came from a school that just didn’t prepare him to write college level essays. Yeah. But he tries harder than anybody. And he took every essay to the writing center. And he revised every single essay multiple times and met with me multiple times, that students should get a great grade, right? Yeah. Where then the student who’s already a good writer, and didn’t try very hard. So I think, you know, thinking through the ways that we can play with assessment to think through what is what are we secretly assessing? And shouldn’t be, and how can we maybe use some of the principles of UDL to, to account for that better?

Lillian Nave  23:20

Yeah. Oh, for sure. I totally threw you off track when you were going through the first three essays? And you did? Yeah. Yours and Moulton. But there was also the Aachen Patterson, which was the first essay of the group. Can you give us the short rundown on that one as well?

Bridget Kies  23:35

Well, yeah, I mean, they talk about lots of different things. But I’m, you know, their focus in this particular essay was specifically what it means to teach an online asynchronous course, how that can provide lots of different challenges when you’re trying to have inclusive course design. And back to the idea of grading and assessing one of the things they talk about is specs grading, which several of the contributors to the dossier use, and I think, increasingly, more and more of us are becoming interested in engraving or alternative grading models as a way of having more inclusive course design. There, they, you know, they allow students to pick a particular grade track based on what, what grade they’re interested in earning for the GPA or for the amount of labor they want to put in. And then they can omit assignments that don’t, that don’t, you know, fit whatever they want to do. And I think a model like that is really useful in that students no longer feel like the grade is given to them. It’s something that they earn, and it makes sense that it’s more objective. Yeah. And they also, I think, are usually incentivized to work a little bit harder, because they realize like, Oh, if I just do this one more assignment, I can get a better grade. Yeah.

Lillian Nave  24:45

Yeah. So specs is the specifications grading. Right. Right. Yeah. And that is a lot of that labor base, right. So the more you do or maybe there are slightly more difficult assignments. or a different level, then that’s that’s the only way you’ll get an A. But if you’re just here, because you have to and you need a C, then go ahead and take this track. And that’s a that is a C track, and I’m fine with it, you’re fine with it. You know, that’s you pass the

Bridget Kies  25:18

class. Yeah. But if you need a B for your scholarship or something, then you know, you need to do this additional work, right?

Lillian Nave  25:24

Yeah. And then are those I’ve seen it done a couple different ways. But is it that those the essay is kind of like a mastery? Like you’ve done it to a particular level, and therefore it’s, it’s done? It’s not that you, you do all these assignments, and you get an A, B, C, or D? In each one of those assignments? It’s just sort of a Okay, you’ve done it to the you pass or a high pass or something like that. Is that? Is that what it is?

Bridget Kies  25:50

I think, well, I can’t speak for them. I mean, I’ve definitely seen it done in several different ways. You the way that I do it is it doesn’t meet or meets expectations. If it doesn’t meet you revise it. Yeah. And you can choose whether to revise it or not based on what grade you’re trying to earn. Yeah. It’s a really challenging model for students to acclimate to it first. Yes. Because the semester that I’m currently in is I think we have two full weeks left to the semester, we finished quite early. Yeah. And I’ve got students still asking me, Can I revise that assignment? Yeah, it was the whole point of the entire course. Yeah, revise everything as much as you want to see, it’s like really hard for them to acclimate to. But I think once they get on board, they realize just how much more liberating it is that we can focus on process, not product. Yeah, we’re at we actually learning and not just fussing and fretting over a GPA. It is yeah, and if, if you are interested in like, specifically the asynchronous course model, because I think, I think we all feel like, oh, asynchronous courses are the worst. And it’s so hard to design. There’s lots of stuff about how to design them and really engaging ways and I took lots of classes on it, and went through a whole workshop and, but to do that is so hard, it takes so much work and infrastructure, and it’s exhausting. And you still feel like students aren’t totally engaged. And there’s not really a community. It’s just like random names on your screen. And if you are interested in that, I will say that Aki Patterson’s essay actually has live links to assignments, so great. So people can look at their assignments and think about how to adapt them for their purposes as well, which is really, really helpful. Yeah.

Lillian Nave  27:30

Oh, that’s fantastic. Yeah, I will definitely have a link to the whole dossier of essays. So any of our listeners can go to this episode’s resource section and be able to learn about any one of these. So I really appreciate that, that they’ve got the live links for people to to use. And I’m still teaching online, which is mostly asynchronous, although we do meet once a week, for about an hour. And there are times to when I think, Oh, this is I feel like I’ve lost some students, you know, again, and I’ve tried so hard, and I’ve designed so much and spent years. And I really appreciate the live links to assignments that I can maybe manage and change to help me out and feel, again, that community and more of a connection with students, even though I try really hard, it sometimes eludes me, I should say,

Bridget Kies  28:31

well, because I think you know, there’s only so much that we as instructors can do when it’s an asynchronous course, the students have to buy into the fact that they’re trying to build a community too. Yeah. And that’s really challenging because often students opt into asynchronous courses, because they have so much going on in their life, and they need to be able to squeeze it in when they can, you know, so it’s not that they’re necessarily committed to getting to know their classmates and befriending them in the way that they might you know, in person. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it’s challenging. Asynchronous is really hard.

Lillian Nave  28:57

It is. And as well, as you know, with teaching Media Studies, and I actually have my students watch plenty of films too, in my course, that it’s great, because then they can watch this two hour film anytime, like you’ve got a whole week to figure out when you can watch it. So love the flexibility. But it also has those as we just talked about some of those drawbacks about okay, well, then how can we have an actual asynchronous conversation that’s not disjointed and that everyone can be a part of.


And I think, you know, back to why I built my course the way I did, when we do those screenings at home. We’re all accustomed to watching media with distraction at home. And so teaching students that will this is actually a media class. So you can’t be playing on your phone while you’re watching the movie that you are going to be writing about or doing an assignment about, like you actually have to be paying careful attention and I know that that’s not really native to our behaviors at home anymore. So it adds like this extra layer of challenge, right? So I mentioned like the sitting in the dark in the classroom. Yeah, I think is a terrible model. But also like watching at home is also a terrible model. So we have to do all this work to sort of teach students how to engage meaningfully with media in ways that is not. It’s just not native to the way that we encounter media, in our recreational lives. Though, I think the more that we play with how we’re actually delivering that content, and what assignments we’re giving in response to it, the better we can sort of teach them. This is the text you have to pay attention to text. Here’s how to do that. Yeah,

Lillian Nave  30:35

for sure. You know, just just talking about that brought back a memory for when I was taking a took a film course in college, my senior year. And it Oh, boy, it was long ago where we did you know, go to a big lecture hall to watch the movies, it was every Tuesday night, right at seven or nine or something. But there was one time I missed it. I had some volleyball game, I think I had to miss the showing, right? So then you could go to the library and play in play it on laser disc, which was like a very short time in the 90s that they put films on a laser disc. It looked like a like a vinyl record. But silver anyway, and you had to go in a cubicle and watch this.

Bridget Kies  31:21

You had to go in a little Yes. Little tiny room with a wooden chair. Yes.

Lillian Nave  31:25

And watch it. And it was such, you know, even just thinking about the difference in experience of watching with other people in a room and having that shared experience, versus having to watch by yourself. And you know, there were no cell phones back then since the 90s. And, and here’s the catch two was, the film was Reservoir Dogs. Yes. And I I must say I freaked out. And I at the end, I had to like the take off my you know, you’re in the headphones. I’m in the library. And I like totally had to freak out, turn it off. Like, here’s this laser disc, I have to go home and and ran home in the snow like, Oh, somebody’s gonna get me like I totally it had this horrendous experience by myself. I get home my roommates like, what is going on? Lillian, I was like, I had too much Reservoir Dogs. And they’re like, oh, yeah, we saw that, you know, in the class that we said, we were there you had your game you had to go to. And it it profoundly changed my experience of that media. And I’ve just, I really didn’t like Quentin Tarantino for a very long time, because he made me feel that way. But seeing it alone, and in the basement of a library in a cubicle,

Bridget Kies  32:39

they were always those rooms are always in the basement. It always had like wooden chairs, yes, like three feet wide. They were so uncomfortable.

Lillian Nave  32:47

It was so traumatic, honestly, for me, at that point in my life. Anyway, and then I had to like talk about it. And I was just angry. I was just so mad. I’m not really an angry person. But I was just so it’s like, Why did I have to watch that. And at but it was if I had been with everybody else, and everybody was gasping, you know, together in the theater at the same and we all walked home to whatever, would have been a very different experience. Yeah. So I think we do have to be attuned to that for our students, and what how they’re experiencing the media and and helping them to understand what might be happening, and how to engage all of those things.

Bridget Kies  33:31

Yeah, I mean, I think that’s extends beyond media too. And you know, any tax, we have to think about teaching our students how to encounter it. We’re increasingly doing our readings on online digitally. And so what does it mean to read on the screen? How do I do that? How do I do that thoughtfully, and not just scrolling fast? You know, I think there’s just so much work that we have to do in this age, this digital age that probably my professors felt like they had to teach me how to read carefully on books, you know, you probably had the same anxieties, but, but it’s all digital for us now. Right? And I think because we’re using these technologies in our daily lives, we don’t know that we’re not necessarily good at them for school purposes. And so as professors, we have to like, just take a second and like help teach the students like, no, actually, you’re terrible at reading online. You’re used to like scrolling past something. Let’s let me teach you how to slow down, right. Yeah. Let me teach you how to annotate on the screen. Let me teach you how to not have your cell phone while you’re watching that movie. Yeah, those are things that we have to I think are part of just what we have to do now.

Lillian Nave  34:32

Yeah. It’s true, because they’re novice learners in whatever field, and we are now the expert learners in that field, and it’s sometimes hard to step back and say, here’s how you start that process because we’re kind of used to it and breaking it down for our students and not just expecting them to come in at a particular level. Is Yeah, a big part of our job. So yeah, you also in the in the dossier, you’ve got to More essays that the last two are very interesting to me. And as you say, when you wrote the introduction, they seek to quote, unsettle the universal in Universal Design for Learning. And the first of those essays Jennifer Alpert uses something called multicultural design for learning or m de l. And I thought you could give us a little rundown about how does that differ from UDL? And how do they work together in this instance?


Well, I think this is probably true, again, of lots of disciplines, especially in the humanities and social sciences. But in film media studies, we’ve spent the past couple of years really talking a lot about course content. Who’s included on the syllabus? Who’s not, you know, in the metoo? Era? What are we doing to remedy systemic inequalities in you know, we can’t fix the industry, but we can fix how we teach students about it. You know, and, you know, the Oscars. So White movement similarly, like, are we teaching enough about race? Are we, you know, unset, unseating Hollywood as the site of production and allowing our students to learn more about global film and different movements, you know, decolonizing, the syllabus has become sort of the buzz phrase. And those conversations are happening a lot. And I think they’re important. I think they’re necessary. I have them too. I do that work with my own syllabus, this issue actually came about thinking will, when we’re having that conversation, we’re wholly fixed on content, okay. And we’re not having conversations about how that also translates to delivery, and student expression. And so the reason I actually wanted to do this UDL issue was to sort of encourage and give suggestions for how faculty, you could also think about the way that translates to what we’re doing, not just what we’re reading or watching. Now, Jennifer’s essay is interesting, because it actually goes back to content. So she, her I think her critique of UDL is that it is so focused on delivery and expression. But it doesn’t actually talk enough about content, and what is the value of trying to hit all learners and be mindful of all of these different, you know, different identity categories and different neurological processes of all the students if we’re not also teaching them about differences in the class? Yeah. So that seems really important, right? Like those two should be linked? Yeah. And I think that’s the value of her of her essay, that we’re having conversations about decolonizing the syllabus, but we’re also decolonizing the way that we’re teaching. Yeah.

Lillian Nave  37:50

That’s a I had a great conversation a couple years ago, about decolonizing, the music curriculum, an episode with Andrew del Antonio, and again, in the humanities. And I think we do need to marry those two things about Yeah, content and delivery, and really thinking a lot about what is the content overstuffing. The curriculum is a term or a phrase that I had come in contact with several years ago about you, okay, so there’s all this stuff to know. But if you are just shooting it out to the students in Firehose style, and they’ve got a test about it, and they’ll shoot it back to you. How much of that are they going to remember, in two years and five years, you know, and it used to be that I thought, well, it’s, it’s my job, I need to give them all this information, I need to make sure I present it to them. But presenting doesn’t necessarily mean students have learned it. It’s that those aren’t the same thing, right? Me talking and saying it or giving you this doesn’t necessarily mean that the student actually has learned it. It’s just it’s me sort of saying, Okay, I’ve done my job, here’s all the stuff. But it’s quite easy for students to like, Okay, well, here’s all this stuff right back at you. And I’m gonna forget it, you know

Bridget Kies  39:14

it, and then I totally forget. And they’re not also learning why that stuff, man. Right, right. So teaching history class right now and like the, you know, the old model of history that I grew up in was like, you learn lots of dates you memorize when a film came out, you, you learn what happened when, but like, why does that stuff matter? And yeah, why are we learning it? You know, so none of that gets internalized?

Lillian Nave  39:34

Yeah. Yeah. So great, great stuff. I really appreciated that. That turn or that criticism? For UDL in the in the essay and you’ve got one more Elizabeth assessor? If you Yeah,

Bridget Kies  39:51

which has a similar critique list assessors piece on. You know, her focus is always about ability, disability and media. That’s like it through line of Bunker research, and what I like about this piece is it has the same sort of ethical question about UDL. So if UDL is invested in these different ways that we can, we can deliver content to students, or we can ask students to express back to us in different ways, then what we’re doing is fertility facilitating like these sort of multiple means of access. But are we actually teaching students like ethically? What access means and how to participate in it? You know, so one of the things she does is like, have her students, she talks about this in the essay, she has her students design an app. And then they realize like, well, if we do this with the app, then like, only certain people can push this button or this, you know, this becomes challenging for other users. And so we shouldn’t just be saying, like, Oh, you guys should have lots of ways to express what you learned to us. But we need to teach them like what access even means why access matters? So I think these two essays are really asking us to think through what the ethics of UDL are that we’re not just like, oh, it’s really, which I’m guilty of sometimes it’d be really cool if my students got to do different stuff, and it’d be more interesting for them. But like, what are the actual ethics of care and justice behind those choices?

Lillian Nave  41:15

Really great questions and a really great, yeah, essay about that. And, and I definitely see that in my circles with universal design for learning and, and criticisms about not being accessible enough. And not really thinking through exactly what you’ve just said about the design and disenfranchising disability. Disability communities, I would say, and we still have work to do.

Bridget Kies  41:49

Yeah, and I think, to Elizabeth’s point, that, that access isn’t just something that is given When access is given. That’s a, again, another top down model, right? I have given you access, congratulations, you are now part of society. But rather that access, first of all, isn’t ever fully given. It’s a process. It’s not just a one time thing. It’s a process that has to be wrestled with and constantly thought of, and it has to be produced together. It’s part of the community. So I think, in many ways, her essay lands the way Carter’s does that. And that mine does, too, that we’re thinking about how UDL is not just, it’s called course design. Right. And that’s, I think, the title of our dossier, it’s about course design. But actually, the course isn’t just designed in September and then given to the students it’s formed. It’s a process that gets formed over the 15 or 16 weeks with our students as part of this, like shared learning community.

Lillian Nave  42:47

Yeah. And it’s, it’s a fantastic collection of ways of thinking. And and I would also say being critical of the ways that UDL really could improve. Yeah, and the ways it’s, you know, sure, like at the very beginning of our conversation, we’re like, we’re not experts, like we’re just we’re trying it out where we’re trying to add UDL into, or use it to redesign something that’s been going on a long time Media Studies, just like every other different discipline. So you know, we’re not perfect, but it’s also really dug in deep to with what are those foundational things we need to be thinking of as we are rethinking how this needs to be taught, that we just haven’t done before?

Bridget Kies  43:35

Yeah, I think that it can be so intimidating, yes. To instructors, because most of us are trained in our disciplines more than we’re trained in pedagogy. And I just, I just have to keep reiterating like, no, there is no perfect pedagogy. So you know, if you’re like UDL sounds really interesting, but it also sounds really complicated. Now, I’m reading essays about how it’s not enough. We need to be equity minded, and what is access and Okay, so am I doing UDL Am I not, which is the right thing? I think that can all be just super intimidating. And I, as someone who engages with a lot of pedagogy research, I find a jargon often very off putting, yeah, they’ll read something. And I’m like, what do they mean by that? And it’s like, Oh, you just mean this thing that like we all do. Anyway, you just found a fancy word for Yeah. So so I just I just have to say like, I really think people should let go of that kind of stuff. And just what are dossier was supposed to do was like, take the gall the fear and intimidation out of that, like, here’s an assignment we did, you could do that, too. Here’s a way you can adapt one thing in your course, or maybe two, and maybe next semester, three or four. And just like let go of those hang ups and just recognize you’re probably doing things much more inclusively than you realize, as most of us are 21st century professors in the 21st century world, you know, so we’re probably doing more inclusive work than we realize, but maybe we don’t know how to how to describe it. And maybe we don’t know why we’re doing it. And so this dossiers, just like just supposed to help you just gently sort of ease into that and take, take some of the intimidation factor away?

Lillian Nave  45:11

Well, it certainly did. And you just answered like the last question I was gonna ask, which is what you hoped this dossier will do, whether inside or outside of Media Studies. And that’s exactly it. It’s it is very inspirational. It’s, it’s also Yeah, I think it’s helpful, just like what you said is, it can be very overwhelming to think, oh, do I have to, like completely reinvent something that I spent years, you know, trying to, you know, figure out the first time,

Bridget Kies  45:40

I have to throw away my whole syllabus? On my site? No, no, you don’t know you don’t? Yeah, keep everything, this tweak thing. It’s very easy. I think also, you know, what I what I hope to leave people with is the sense that like, the question I often get is how like, this all sounds really great. I want to do all this stuff I want. I want to have screenings and readings, and I want to have my students listen to stuff and read stuff, and then also make their own podcasts and make their own videos. But like, how do I grade any of it? Yeah, that that part? Sounds like wild, right? Yeah. It’s all over the place. What’s you know? And so for me, one of the things that I found most useful was like, you know, returning to conversation, we had a little bit of go, Well, let’s think through what are we actually what are the learning outcomes? What do we actually want students to be able to express back to us? Now let’s make a rubric for that. I know, like in humanities, we hate for bricks, they just feel so like, rigid, but I find them to be so liberating, because it says right there on paper, this is what I want you to show me. Yeah. And then you either showed it to me or you didn’t. And it’s so liberating. And then the best part is, when you take that rubric to the students, and you say, This is what I think I should be grading you on, is that what you guys were doing? Yeah. Is this what you’re gonna do on your next assignment, and my students said, that wasn’t what we were doing, we need to change that rubric. And then we all changed it together. And suddenly how they were being assessed makes so much more sense. And because we had a rubric, it was very easy to grade, a written essay against a podcast against a video. Yeah. Because the form no longer mattered. It just mattered what they were expressing. And that was clearly stated in the rubric. Yeah. So people often say this sounds really complicated to grade. And I think what I want to leave people with is a sense that actually, it’s much easier.

Lillian Nave  47:32

Yeah, it is. It’s clearer and clearer is kind which is one of the most recent catchphrases I’ve heard to hire is kind so your students aren’t guessing what it is that they’re supposed to do. Yeah, so it’s, uh,

Bridget Kies  47:49

you know, what, if any of my students listen to that, so I’m sure they will say she is so unclear. So often, like, none of us are perfect, right? And the more that we think we’re being transparent and clear, you know, there’s always students who are like, Bill perplex, ya know, if that happens to you, you’re fine. You’re wonderful if Okay, yes.

Lillian Nave  48:09

happens to all of us. Yes, exactly. So, just fantastic. Thank you so much for giving me your time to talk about this great collection, anybody who wants to read further that can find it in a link in our resources for this episode. And thank you so much for bringing this into the world and all of your labor and getting it done, and for bringing UDL into media studies and sharing it with us. So thank you, Bridget, for your time today.

Bridget Kies  48:38

Thank you so much, Lillian. It was really a pleasure to get to talk more about this. And yeah, I hope everyone will start implementing more principles of UDL in their learning.

Lillian Nave  48:48

It’s just great. Thank you so much. 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 think website. Thank you again to our sponsor, Texthelp. Texthelp is focused on helping all people learn, understand and communicate through the use of digital education and accessibility tools. Texthelp and its people are working towards a world where difference, disability or language are no longer barriers to learning and succeeding, with over 50 million users worldwide. The Texthelp suite of products include Read and Write equates to an orbit note, which work alongside existing platforms such as Microsoft Office and G Suite, enabling them to be integrated quickly into any classroom or workspace with ease. Texthelp has changed the lives of millions worldwide and strives to impact the literacy and understanding of 1 billion In people by 2030 additional support for the podcast is made possible by Appalachian State University where if you call it Appalachian, I’ll throw in Appalachia. The music on the podcast was performed by the Oddyssey quartet comprised of Rex Shepherd, David Pate, Bill Folwell and Jose Coachez, and I am your host, Lillian Nave. Thank you for joining us on The think UDL podcast.

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