Think UDL Podcast Logo


Transcripts, taxonomies and podcast websites with Bonni Stachowiak

On episode 35, we get to talk with Bonni Stachowiak. Bonni is the host and producer of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast, an Associate Professor of Business and Management and Dean of Teaching and Learning at Vanguard University of Southern California. I talked with Bonni at the Teaching for Active and Engaged Learning Lilly Conference in San Diego, California, February 27-29, 2020. I was able to steal Bonni away briefly to talk about her recent additions to and reorganization of her Teaching in Higher Ed podcast website. It began with the additions of transcripts to all of her podcasts (which made her topics more “discoverable”) and then led to a taxonomy of searchable topics and other improvements along the way. In our conversation we talk about engagement strategies, blog posts, podcasts, storytelling, “choose your own adventure” stories, and even the harrowing story of the “Naked Dutchman.” 

Everything that Bonni and I talk about is also available on our resource page so if you want to look further into anything we discuss in today’s episode, you can follow up there. This conversation is filled with lots of UDL applications that may be helpful for anyone who wishes to reach a multitude of people with their course, podcast, website, blogs, or whatever method of teaching and dissemination of learning they happen to create! Join me and Bonni for a fun conversation about how some seemingly unintentional UDL upgrades made a difference for all!


Teaching in Higher Ed Podcast (Transcripts can be found with each episode)

Hanz and Franz

Threshold concepts

Taxonomy for the podcast found in “Browse by Category” box that allows for “Discoverability”

Retrieval practice 1 and again here

Blog posts on the Teaching in Higher Ed website

Derek Bruff’s ideas about course trailers

Bonni’s course trailers (Movie posters from students/ Indiana Jones like)

Alan Levine and Mia Zamora’s Courses as stories

Choose your own adventure Minecraft

Overcast podcast provider

Blog of Lillian’s First Year Seminar Study Abroad to Belgium/Netherlands

International Teaching Learning Cooperative: Look here for all of the opportunities that ITLC provides for faculty!
Lilly Conferences: Take a look at all of the Lilly Conferences available year round and somewhere within a drive to you since they are held from coast to coast and in between! These are fabulous, friendly teaching and learning conferences that give you actionable items that you can use right away, and inspiration for more!


[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.


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 35 of the Think UDL podcast: Transcripts, Taxonomies, and Podcast Websites with Bonni Stachowiak.  Bonni is the host and producer of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast, an associate professor of business and management and Dean of teaching and learning at Vanguard University of Southern California.  I talked with Bonni at the Teaching for Active and Engaged Learning Lilly Conference in San Diego, California February 27 through 29, 2020.  I was able to steal Bonni away briefly to talk about her recent additions to and reorganization of her teaching in higher ed website.  It began with the additions of transcripts to all of her podcasts which made her topics more discoverable, and then led to a taxonomy of searchable topics and other improvements along the way.  In our conversation, we talked about engagement strategies, blog posts, podcasts, storytelling, choose-your-own-adventure stories, and even the harrowing story of the naked Dutchman.  Everything that Bonni and I talk about is also available on our resource page.  So, if you want to look further into anything we discuss in today’s episode, you can follow up there.  This conversation is filled with lots of UDL applications that may be helpful for anyone who wishes to reach a multitude of people with their course, podcast, website, blogs or whatever method of teaching and dissemination of learning they happen to create.  Join me and Bonni for a fun conversation about how some seemingly unintentional UDL upgrades made a difference for all.

So, we are here at the Lilly conference in San Diego, California and I have the great joy of getting to interview really one of my inspirations for this Think UDL podcast and that is Bonni Stachowiak, who hosts her own podcast, the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast, and Bonni, I want to thank you so much for joining me today.


[Bonni]   Thanks for having me, Lillian.  I was glad week we caught up with each other and I saw that you were going to be here and didn’t even have to work that hard to find you.


[Lillian]   Super excited and one of the things I ask all of my interviewees is what makes you a different kind of learner?


[Bonni]   I recall a story that I have told many times about being five years old and in my bedroom and teaching my dolls and teaching my stuffed animals and I used to hang a sign on my door I was Miss Monroe and my room was 208.  So really just infatuated with the idea of teaching from a very early age and that really carried with me.  And as a learner I do have to remember that not everyone had like such teaching and learning related dreams from such an early age and that we all come at our experiences in learning with a lot of prior learning and some of that learning has to be unlearned to recognize no I actually do value what you have to share in this community, and it takes some time.  It’s interesting, I teach a doctoral class a couple times a year and I was always expecting that they would come into the classroom with a real healthy idea about what the teacher-student relationship might look like, particularly by the time they get to that point in their education, and I’ve actually found there’s a lot we have to sort of unpack and then load together, and that’s a long answer to your question about what kind of learner am I.  I’m a learner, I’m a teacher, and it’s something that I think about all of the time.  It takes up a lot of my imagination as a parent, as someone who does teach faculty, and as someone who teaches some undergraduate classes and graduate classes yeah and they all present their own challenges and I really enjoy that.


[Lillian]   And you also have a podcast on teaching, so you’ve always been thinking about teaching and lately we’ve been learning–I know I’ve been learning so much from your teaching in higher ed podcast, which of course we’ll have links to if in case any of our loyal UDL think UDL listeners haven’t heard of the teaching in higher ed podcast.  We’ll have links so they can find a treasure trove of wonderful things over there so–and the reason I wanted to ask you about specifically UDL is I’ve seen a change in your website in what you’ve been doing and adding transcripts it’s kind of a UDL-ified version of what you’re doing at the teaching in higher ed podcast, and I wanted to talk to you about how UDL figures into your teaching and into really when you’re doing the podcast you’re teaching all of us faculty developers so in both your classroom situation and in your podcast world website that kind of thing.


[Bonni]   It’s really unfortunate, but transcripts haven’t caught on in the podcasting world as much as people might think.  I even think if we have this conversation a year from now, we’re still going to continue to see changes just because of the proliferation of we were just–not you and I but some other colleagues and I were talking earlier about how you can present with Google slides today and have the transcription appear before your very eyes.  And the same thing with Microsoft PowerPoint–although we also know those tools get it wrong–so it’s not a perfect way to do it.  Transcripts, they’re usually more purposefully more intentionally created to capture as close as what was actually said as possible.  So–but very early on in my podcast, so this would be June of 2014, I would start to get emails from institutions: “do you have transcripts available?” and at the time I didn’t.  The first 200 episodes, all the transcripts came out all at once.  I mean, we trickled them but I mean that was the point at which when it got close to 200–and now it’s 300–but it got close to 200 and it was like alright, we’re doing this. And we had two choices.  We could start from there, start from episode 200 and go from there.  A friend had kind of encouraged me don’t feel like you have to do them all but I’m really more of a completionist, I felt like you’re either doing this or you’re not.  


[Lillian]   Yeah, sorry you’re out of luck if it’s episode 149, nope.


[Bonni]   And I knew that we were missing out.  We were missing reaching institutions–that were many at that point–if you’re a state institution, you couldn’t have put the podcast and listed it as available for your faculty because that not be embracing your own accessibility either ethical guidelines or in some cases policies.  So, I really started to hear that more and understand just that it wasn’t having a reach.  But when I first sent out an email to the–it’s called pod– and those are a lot of faculty developers from around the country, and I said hey I’m just–my husband I are going to spend the money to do this.  So, what we’d like to know is before we do that just can you let us know is what we’re thinking about a PDF and some on-screen text like would this actually meet your needs because that’s a lot of money for us.  And the first email I got back was from West Virginia University Press it was actually Jim Lang–James Lang who has–he’s the series editor for their faculty development series


[Lillian]   Yes, wonderful books there.

[Bonni]  He’s like, we’d like to pay that three thousand dollars so you don’t have to worry about that part.  And then it was like oh wow, this is amazing!  And so I actually didn’t even get that many ideas specifically what I was thinking about hearing from people in terms of usability, but just a lot of excitement people were like yes and so it’s not even like we had to do that much because one of the things–the tool I was using at that time you could actually have an on-screen interface where you could click around within it and then it would play exactly where you were clicking and that would have been a little bit more complex to set up.  We would’ve had to customize the website a little bit more and people were like no just the PDF and some text and we’re good, we don’t need that much.  But the other thing is just how many people find different uses.  It’s not really–my estimation is it’s less about accessibility, although of course it’s good that it’s there, but really about convenience and reinforcing the conversations in a way of extending the learning.  Yeah, it’s been delightful.


[Lillian]   Yeah, I when I asked some faculty members a lot, I’ll send out a poll or we’ll just answer that question together, say if I give you a TED talk how are you going to interface for that are you going to watch it, are you going to watch it with the closed caption on as well, or are you just going to listen to it maybe while you’re doing something else like I’ll turn it on and maybe I’ll go iron or something you know or vacuum or do the dishes or something and I can still hear it every once in a while.  Or, might go right to the transcript and just I think I’m going to page through it really quick and say oh I think maybe I’ll go to this part and watch the video if it has some sort of image.  And inevitably all four options are chosen you know in a group of ten, a group of 20, a group of a hundred.  There’s a variety of ways that somebody’s going to interface with it and then think about our students.  Of course they’re going to want to interface with it in a different way depending on their situation or whatever they’re going to want to have that ease of use.  So now you’ve got it easy I can find–oh I remember also if I remember this conversation you had with somebody like I can go search the word rather than trying to find trying to find it like in a sound file.


[Bonni]   That reminds me – another huge advantage that I didn’t even contemplate at all which you can laugh if you are–but was just it’s not just accessibility, it’s not just convenience, but it’s also– this is not a word but I’m going to use it anyway 


[Lillian]   Let’s make up a new word.

[Bonni]  Findability.  So it’s all SEO optimized so if someone just goes on Google and search for anything we were talking about–so there was a recent episode where we spoke about Saturday Night Live and Hans and Franz–


[Lillian]   Oh, I love Hans and Franz, yes! 


[Bonni]   So, if you happen to search for that and something related to teaching, you never know, you might just land right on Teaching in Higher Ed.  So, that just its amazing to me and actually the companies a lot, Apple and Google Play, they’re now minutes away from automatically indexing and transcribing audio content for that–for discoverability because there’s a lot of criticisms around the podcast universe today for how hard it is relatively speaking to find something.  And if you remember a few years back, Netflix had a huge contest where they gave away a million dollars to a person or a group that could come up with an algorithm to properly help us find the shows we want to see and any of us that have Netflix memberships probably know how good they are 


[Lillian]   Yeah, with suggesting what they might like.


[Bonni]   So the podcasting companies like Apple and Google they’re wanting that same discoverability for their shows and their podcast universes.  So, they’re going to just start doing that for us but less about the accessibility unfortunately and way more of their emphasis is on helping people discover shows that are of interest.


[Lillian]   Okay, wow so boy just like we talk about all the time, we were talking about this with Universal Design for Learning, you came to the idea of transcripts because you had a few people who said hey we’d like the transcripts, and then you’ve just told us five at least different reasons why having those transcripts have helped a bunch of people you never even had in your thought.  So, that’s what I love about Universal Design for Learning is that we realize we might design for the margins but we’re helping everybody.


[Bonni]   And when I think back to my own, I like to do screencasts a lot.  I like to make short videos and I remember just how hard it was and perhaps more of that was even in my mind it just felt insurmountable there’s you know, I don’t want to say there’s no way, but it just it felt incredibly difficult to have transcripts for everything.  Today, we are on the Canvas learning management system and they have within it a video service called Studio.  I just upload a video and I just click a button and say I want transcripts and they’re 95% there.  Yes, I will have to correct my spelling of my last name and usually my first name because it doesn’t have an “e” on it, but they get so close that it’s a matter of just skimming and catching the few mistakes that it’ll make.


[Lillian]    I have noticed that yeah our technology is catching up to this but our students are still I think ahead of us in a lot of these in a lot of these ways so I certainly learn a lot from our students.  It was a big change–one of those threshold concepts for me like you can never go back is when I found out at a conference maybe three four years ago that if you make let’s say you’re making that lecture for your students, how many of those students are going to listen to it or watch it at regular speed?  Not that many.  They’re going to be at like one and a half speed one or 1.75 or something like that and it turns out that’s what I’m doing now all the time in listening to a podcast and then and in watching videos if I’m looking at that TED talk.  I’m going ahead on the speed and it was the students that taught me that.  So, I used to be really worried about well let me take my time and make sure right we enunciate, turns out nope anyway I just breeze through it.


[Bonni]   And then occasionally you’ll run into ones that really do need it to be slower and the fact that it’s so easy for them to make those adjustments is really pretty remarkable.  I’m so–it’s odd to me in a good way of how quickly our brain can adapt.  Because when I tell people some of them it depends on who the podcast is but some of them I listen to it two times and they’re like how could you do that?  But your brain really can get it adapted to it pretty quickly and it’s pretty fun.  There are some that it’s just an artistry of podcasting and I want to listen to it exactly the way they designed it, it just depends.  But they’re few and far between mostly at that speed.


[Lillian]   I totally agree.  So, transcripts: that was like a huge thing that I learned about when you were kind of going through that part and West Virginia University Press had made that possible.  But you’ve also done a few other things that have made your kind of podcast universe I like using that term but Bonni’s podcast universe of Teaching in Higher Ed a lot more UDL friendly so can you talk about kind of things that you’ve redesigned or done recently that helps your learners?


[Bonni]   Yeah, one of the big things that took a ton of time but I’m so glad that I did it is having a taxonomy for the site.  I think when we are constructing our courses, too often–and I know I’m still guilty of this today–but we think of our teaching in terms of a very linear way, and that’s certainly not the way most of us would experience something like a podcast.  We just met a number of people at this conference you’ve never heard of my podcast before and they’re like that sounds amazing, let me write that down.  And then–but you know they’re not going to start out from episode 1 and listen to every one in order, they’re going to go to that taxonomy and find exactly the information that they’re looking for.  The other thing that is built into the site, it’s a site that’s built on WordPress which something like 70 or 80 percent of websites today are built either directly on WordPress or on something that’s built on top of WordPress like pressbooks is a textbook creator open textbook creator that a publishing thing that’s built on top of WordPress.  But anyway there’s these plugins that you can have, so there’s a plugin for related content.  And I’m not doing that, I don’t go in and manually say this episode that you’re listening to relates to these three over here, that happens through the algorithm.  So it happens with the blog posts and also with the podcast episodes.   So sometimes you don’t even really know what you’re looking for.  It’s interesting, I get really interested in this subject of how people find things and how they go about because sometimes they say that they searched for something, but what they really mean is they browsed something.  So, I always try to like get them to clarify did you, now did you click on the search box like type in what you were looking for but a lot of times we don’t know what we’re looking for.  So, when we think about designing our courses or we think about designing websites or whatever it is, we should be thinking about yes sometimes people will know that they want to search for a specific thing and so that’s why the search engine optimization is important, keywords, metadata, but in addition to that these discoverability things are really important too for helping people go I didn’t even know I wouldn’t even know what to call that.


[Lillian]   Right and you’re providing this organizational structure which is part of the UDL guidelines especially with things like executive functions, like how do we organize data, how do we kind of separate them out, how do we start and stop a task, how do you know how do we get to those things.  So, you know, we’re early on at Think UDL, we’ve got 30 episodes so far at the time of this taping and–a recording, I guess we don’t tape things anymore, right, people wouldn’t know what that is–but so right now our website is that long list you know which will eventually be that scroll of death.  So, it’s easy enough to see these are the topics.  But when you have 300 plus episodes, then you do have to think about what’s an organizational structure that’s going to help my learners–in this case other faculty who are interested in teaching in higher ed–to be able to have that ease of use, findability, searchability to get to the information that’s useful to them.  Not every topic, right then all 300 topics aren’t going to be useful right then, but if they’re saying man I really wish I had something that could tell me about diversity or diversifying my syllabus or my perspectives that I’m using in this, I know you have episodes in that, so I could look that up.  So, being able as a teacher as an instructor to organize, helps our students–in this case, our listeners–to be able to find those.  And you know hopefully Think UDL, right, one day we’re going to need that taxonomy, too so it becomes easier for our listeners to see what they need.


[Bonni]   And I always think it’s helpful to, in anything we’re learning about how to teach more effectively, we’re learning how to use the UDL in our classes in anything like that it’s really a dangerous place to put ourselves in that we have to be all the way there from the beginning.  And I know that that’s one thing that many of our UDL heroes have said to us is the plus one where it’s you know you don’t have to do all of this.  And, I get asked the question a lot like oh my gosh you know how do you do that with all these ideas?  Well, the thing is, I don’t!  Like how could I possibly?  I work at a teeny tiny institution, we don’t have the kinds of budgets that some of the schools that I talked to have.   Well, so how do I do it?  I try to make it small so I could experiment with it and play with it, but it’s not going to really cost a lot it’s or anything really you know how to shrink something down because otherwise we it’s kind of an excuse we don’t really then ever change or grow or adapt because it’s always well out there they’re not giving me enough money, or I don’t have enough time, or like there’s all those external things that kind of stop us from taking those risks yeah and being willing to fail, so I’ve failed a lot a lot.  And that kind of vulnerability that says so of our students.  I still recall this, last year I believe it was, my students for the business ethics class I was teaching they made board games.  Actually one group made an on-screen game and the other groups made board games.  But they–we all got together and played and I they were a uneven number of people, so they so will you play on the team with so-and-so, I forgot the name of a philosopher that came up probably nine hundred times in the class, I mean just like forgetting one of the names of my children but not quite that, but the students were just their jaws dropped but in the most marvelous way because they realized I’m just human and we all can forget stuff.  And to them I think they had this perception that people who are professors like never fail, don’t forget stuff, that kind of their own sense of shame, so they really delighted in my failure for weeks.  In fact, I’ve even seen some of those students a year later and they’re still reminding me, remember that time?  Yes, I remember that time.  As a side note, by the way, the study of retrieval practice which is instead of pouring so much information into our students heads helping them retrieve it and building stronger neural connections.   You bet I have never forgotten that philosopher’s name.  I’m teaching the course again, this time I’m ready for the board game.  Are we going to do it again this semester because I’m so ready if I’m selected on one of those teams.   


[Lillian]   Yes, exactly, nice.  Wow, so your taxonomy of those episodes has been I think really helpful in reshaping like your website, as you also have–which I love, multimodal–you’ve got a lot of blogs and blog posts.  So, tell me what you’ve done with those.


[Bonni]   The blog post is probably very similar to what I described–I think sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking that the blog post has to be as prolific or as intelligent as and just as well written as some of the ones that I follow, and that’s not my style of locution.  Is that the word, did I get it or did I just mispronounce that word, locution.  Someone complimented me using a form of that word the other day and I was so glad I knew what it meant.  But I am less formal.  My vocabulary is not as verbose–what’s the word I’m looking for when it’s really big–its just not me.  So, instead of trying to emulate other people, I can show up and be authentic and what I think I do well is write in accessible ways to say here’s something I’m experimenting with, join me, and a real person on the other side of the blog and so that’s–but that doesn’t mean that the other blogs that take our breath away, we don’t want them to go away.  Please keep those there, keep mine and wouldn’t you like to share, too.  I mean, I think of blogging just of the magnificent things that can happen when we allow ourselves to be transparent.  There’s a guy named John Stepper who coined the phrase working out loud.  So, it’s just the whole idea of what so many of us do if you blog or you podcast that kind of thing is taking in information making sense of it and then sharing.  That’s a part of also what’s called personal knowledge management.  But I thought that I coined the term but I didn’t really ever really truly think but the idea of teaching out loud, if you google that I’ve seen it show up a couple times in a K through 12 space, but it’s not that out there.  But just this idea of we’re all in classrooms, instead of just thinking of just me, just you in my one classroom in this one opportunity to make a difference, if we actually take a few steps back we can actually be more of a chorus of voices and recognizing we’re working in solidarity with people from around the world that all want to serve our students better.  So, I like thinking of it like that.  It both feels more meaningful, but also when I mess up I haven’t messed up so bad that I’m messing the entire world of teaching up, and that maybe my sharing about my own failures can help other people avoid them.


[Lillian]   Well, I must say that what I have really enjoyed about your blog posts when I’m reading them is that vulnerability and you always come from this space of I’m not the expert but here’s something I’m trying, and here’s how it’s worked for me.  I found some good results I know, here’s where I’ve gotten even the research about it, you know, so it’s not just crazy you know maybe sometimes they are.  But that there’s this here’s what I’m trying and I’m offering it to you.  Its not from this very high and holy, you know, here’s what you have to do or what you should do.  But I really appreciated that warmth when you do that.  You’re even just talking about failures, forgetting a Philosopher’s name, and learning from that and sharing that and being open with your students I mean that’s so–that resonates so much with me.  I think maybe that your idea that you just said about podcasting is really kind of learning out loud.  Every time I’m talking to somebody I’m learning something new.  So, I can’t come in to the podcast saying I know everything and I’m going to tell you how I know, because I just don’t.  But having that conversation that allows other people to learn from it and enter into that space has been something I’ve appreciated about the way that you write and listening to your conversations too with others is from that kind of vulnerable space.  It’s inviting others to kind of stick your toe in the water right and try this something new that might seem kind of big, overwhelming, maybe scary or I haven’t thought about using this in my classroom or I haven’t thought of thinking about these perspectives in my classroom, and I can see that it’s possible somebody else has done that.  So, I know that in your teaching you have been really interested in agency and that kind of has been a big part of how you bring yourself and your students into that.  Can you tell me a little bit more about that?


[Bonni]   Speaking of my blog post, there was a blog post I wrote called a taste of agency because by that I–there’s the real macro view of agency and wanting to have every person we encounter as teachers and as learners recognized that we acknowledge and honor their full humanity.  I sound so dripping with the idealism right now.  But I really believe that.  But there’s also then the practicality of okay what does that look like, and one of the things I like to try out is to think about the unexpected so I for a while I was teaching that introduction to business class, I don’t get to teach it very much anymore, but I did a course trailer and I learned a lot like Vanderbilt has a really cool page on course trailers maybe you could put in the show notes.


[Lillian]   Yes, we’ll put that in the resources for sure.

[Bonni]   Yeah a lot of really good resources around them and some of the trailers that they have on this page are just mind-blowing.  But instead I used–I use a Mac and so they have the equivalent on Windows, too but where you can make a trailer of the 


[Lillian]   Like for a film, something you would see that would entice you to take that course.  I’ve seen that with general education courses, like how are you going to choose from all of these options.


[Bonni]   And you don’t have to know how to do that, it’s literally like put a pic–drag a picture of one person into this box, drag a picture of a group of people into this box, and then you get to decide do you want it to look kind of adventurous?  It doesn’t say Indiana Jones, but that’s what it reminds me of.  And another one’s more like a romantic comedy and everything.  So, I ended up making two trailers one was Indiana Jones-ish and the other one was romantic comedy.  And then I asked some of my students to help me come up with six movie posters or TV shows that I could put on this it was like a JPEG or ping or something like that.  They had to tell me what was current because I you know going back to the seventies and eighties wasn’t going to help me.  


[Lillian]   Once you have little kids, forget it. 

[Bonni]   Yeah forget it because that’s not going to really resonate either.  So, it was a current at the time now this might have been seven years ago or something, but so it looked like you could choose one of six movie trailers, like which one of these would you most want to watch, but you’re actually only going to one of two options because I did not make six movie trailers.  But it was just kind of inviting them into this space to say welcome this is not going to be your read the syllabus and now unfortunately is getting to be super common to be like take a quiz on your syllabus, but they’re kind of like more punitive I better get this right it has definite right and wrong answers, as opposed to I want to learn more about you and what you’re going to bring into the class and just becoming more of a community.  So, it was, it really, I just liked that sense of unexpected you’re going to get something without being chaotic by the way, I have a colleague David who we debate often because he likes more templates than I do and more consistency and we need that and I so need him.  And but it’s always like within that framework where I’m not completely lost when I get somewhere.  We don’t need that people being lost and Alan Levine is someone who talks about he and his he and his co facilitator of course they teach and Anna Mia something we’ll find out yeah I’ve interviewed him but I’ve not interviewed his co teacher yet which I need to get on that.  Anyway, they talk about spines like book spines.  So, the course is organized with these spines, but it’s also like you feel like you’re going on a journey.  So it’s like it’s organized, but it’s also wow where do you want to go?  Where do you want to take this?  How do you want to engage with this?  And they have challenges and they’ll take it out into social media where you put hashtags on it and you can really engage.  So, anyway that’s I think about that’s actually another example of me making things smaller, where I look at these course trailers from the Vanderbilt page and I’m like oh I don’t have a full production company to do that for my classes.  If I can make it smaller, I have this software that lets me do this, I have pictures from the last times I’ve taught this class, I can drag those in and invite them into an experience and I like that.  In many learning management systems, there’s also a way to offer some agency too.  In particular, Canvas has what’s called mastery paths.  So, you could go in there and say did I want to represent my learning by creating a video?  Did I want to represent my learning by writing a paper?  Did I want to do it by creating a timeline?  I mean whatever’s appropriate to the learning goals.  But the mastering paths allow them to send them on that path such that they’re going to get the resources and the criteria and the instructions specific to whatever it was that they selected.  And if you’ve got them used to that with something small like hey click on which movie thing you like, then just this idea that what where I want to head is going to be important in this whole learning process and you’re sort of wetting their whistle for what the experience it’s going to be like in the class.


[Lillian]   And that’s so central to Universal Design for Learning is that engagement part.  So the effective part of our brains, we want that you know something that connects to us and makes sense you know for who we are, why should I be learning this oh I’ve got some skin in the game or I’ve something that it’s going to affect me and you are offering these experiences to your students there and also I would say you have offered those experiences to your listeners.  So, for all of us faculty who are listening to Teaching in Higher Ed, you are kind of giving a trailer or teaser telling us about what we can kind of join in with you and experience together.  So, I’ve so appreciated your offering yourself, your learning out loud, your talking out loud, your vulnerability to kind of experiment and try new things and offer the rest of us a chance to listen in on your learning.  I know in my brief podcast experience in this last–a little bit over a year, my goodness my world has expanded so much and that’s what you’re offering your students and what you’re offering your listeners and what I’ve benefited from personally because as I’ve told you maybe your husband will get you know a little bit mad at me, but you’re my hashtag academic crush to start this a podcast about teaching and learning has really been so beneficial to so many.  So much so that when I was sitting at the table just before I I said oh Bonni Stachowiak’s here!  I was talking to somebody who said oh my goodness you guys that’s Bonnie stove it she has the best podcast.  And I just told them about mine.  I said you have to listen to Teaching in Higher Ed, you can look at my stuff later.  But here’s where you could learn a lot.


[Bonni]   Isn’t it so great though that there’s so many ways that we can learn and so many different podcasts that are you know helping within specific things or more broadly I just love it,  it’s amazing.  


[Lillian]   Yeah and the impetus for Think UDL is although Universal Design for Learning has been around for thirty years or more, I was talking to other folks here that gee we’re hoping one day it catches on.  It’s still slow in having a lot of universities to really accentuate it or to get the whole idea about the design not just accessibility which is now you know legally you need to be doing, but it’s slowly gaining ground and we wanted this podcast to be a way to see how useful it is.  And that’s what we’re you know, we’re trying to get out there in a vulnerable way in a way that we’re all learning just like I’ve learned from how you’ve been kind of inviting people into that space.


[Bonni]   I would, when I was young we read choose your own adventure books.  So, that was you get to the page 12 and it would say do you want to go up the hill or down by the river whatever.  And of course I am such a planner that I’d always try to see like


[Lillian]   If I go down the river, I’m going to be on page 54.


[Bonni]   I would save the bookmarks like with my fingers before I knew it I had like all 10 fingers are like in the different possible paths that I could go down.  But I’m thinking now they started coming out with choose-your-own-adventure Netflix had it with–I’m trying to remember the name of that, I haven’t even seen it yet, maybe it’s not even Netflix.  A television series that was one of the early ones that did choose-your-own-adventure within the television show, and now my kid my son just told me that Minecraft now there’s some show he can watch and choose his own adventure


[Lillian]   What the next video is? 


[Bonni]   Not even just the next video.  Within the video, they have branching now inside of television shows like the ones that Netflix produces, but I’m wondering now, podcast.  Is there a choose-your-own-adventure for podcasts and what would that even look like?  


[Lillian]   We might be the people to do it. 

[Bonni]   We might be then we can send ourselves out to other–can you imagine?  Actually, the podcast app that I use is called Overcast and in the last six months they came out with the ability where you can capture a clip.  Because another really big challenge with podcast is it’s not very shareable.  If you think about social media, how you can just grab all this stuff and even if you’re reading someone’s blog, you can just highlight that and automatically you know upload that whatever you’ve highlighted to Twitter, it’s amazing what’s possible.  But yeah now I can just say clip I want it to be and I can drag the little bars for exactly what I want to clip and then send it out to Twitter, email it to myself so I could use it in a class, or whatever and it just ends up being like a mp4 file with the podcast graphic right there as well as how would I even listen to this if I’ve never listened to podcasts, you know where could I find this alright and then you can type in the text.  But that–and that by the way was new at the time when the guy developed it, that feature for the clips, but two seconds later then the other services started doing it too and I think we’re really on the cusp of being able to have podcasts be a lot more shareable.  And once they’re sort of–I hate this word but it’s the best word I have–it’s like chunking things down yeah to smaller components and then really being able to have people get just what they need.


[Lillian]   Yeah, that would be fantastic.  One of the things that takes me a long time after we’ve done the editing of the podcast is finding a snippet.  And then I do the I do the transcription of the snippet, and sometimes that’s outside of our transcription–we’ve already talked about how important that is, but I find the snippet and then I sent it to our producer and then he puts together what goes on social media all of that.  But that takes a lot of time.


[Bonni]   Well, it really does and I hate to tell you this, Lillian, but I’m actually not a quotable person.  I feel like I bring a lot to my podcasting game but I can tell you, my podcast editor would tell you, not a real quotable person so good luck to you, sister!  


[Lillian]   We’ll see, will this be the first non snippet podcast. 

[Bonni]   It could be, I’m just warning you.


[Lillian]   Oh, its great I’m sure we’ll find a nugget. 

[Bonni]   You might have to pick out a word or phrase or 13 because sometimes it’s a little not on the concise side of things but.


[Lillian]   Wow, well thank you so much for taking a little time out of this awesome teaching and learning conference down here in San Diego and for really giving of your time again being vulnerable, being open to talking about it and especially helping other podcasters and this in this case but thinking about how Universal Design for Learning helps all learners everywhere.  And your–what you’ve done with your website especially has helped me.  So, thank you.


[Bonni]   Well, thanks for having me.  I’m glad we ran into each other and I told you I saw on Twitter but then in the hat, you were going to be here and not only are you here but you’re an ambassador, so I feel very well cared for if I have any needs.  Although the hotel did give a set of keys, a duplicate set of keys, they didn’t realize I was already in my room so someone tried to come into my room yesterday, but it was all taken care of.  And I do always lock the top lock on the room so I was safe in there and I’m ready for action.  I don’t know why I brought that up.


[Lillian]   Good, that’s okay. 

[Bonni]   Oh, because I could have needed you as an ambassador, but–


[Lillian]  Well, I will be–I’ll be the muscle, exactly.  But, I also have another story about–you better make sure–this is very good for our listeners to know, whenever you’re in a hotel room you have to do the deadbolt the deadlock.  I took students abroad to Belgium and the Netherlands, and had first year students–18 years old–and some had never been on a plane, some had never been abroad, and we’re in this hotel and in the middle of the night, a person came in to the hotel room that was not associated with our trip and not only was it somebody who came into my students’ room, he was not wearing any clothes.  Yes, so these students came and woke me up at 4:30 in the morning “Lillian!  Lillian! There is somebody in our room!”   And believe–nightmare!  Nightmare as a study abroad leader, ambassador of America, right, here I am in a foreign country.  And so I have to get the hotel what is going on turns out this guy was a sleepwalker had a little too much gluhwein at the Christmas market and had erroneously gotten into this this room and these–my students had not set the deadbolt and had not–unbeknownst to them–had not closed the door all the way.  It was one–kind of a new fancy door that has its low closes and they thought it was closed and it wasn’t.  Luckily, nobody was hurt, no long-lasting damage, but we were doing a blog day by day and I said “hey, folks!  Listen, we’re not going to be talking about this incident so all of the parents don’t come and get me and drag me out in the street!”


[Bonni]    That’s such an important story, too, because we just sat in this session about assumptions that we make about our students and the example that she gave was when students might fall asleep in our class all the things we might ascribe to the intent behind that.  We had a funny conversation at our table, it was like I did not subscribe to this belief, but we’re like they were doing it on purpose to like get back at us somehow.  I’m like, yeah, I can say they might have been apathetic, but I’m not going as far as like rage sleepiness, I don’t see that as a thing.  But if someone were to come into my hotel room naked–


[Lillian]    You would ascribe some intent to that.

[Bonni]    But it wouldn’t be sleepwalking. 


[Lillian]    No, it would not. 

[Bonni]    No, it would not, and I don’t get there until like that’s the 50th reason I come up with by that time. Yeah, oh wow.


[Lillian]   I know!

[Bonni]    That’s a great story.


[Lillian]    It is–it’s quite the–we call it the naked Dutchman story, and luckily everybody was okay, but you know, you have to write an incident report, I’m calling America, it’s 4:00 in the morning, here’s what’s going on what do I do–and luckily these young women were–did everything they needed to do, and I was, you know, in my pajamas and hiking boots in the middle of the night and did not sleep the rest of the trip.  So, anyway we learned from these, right?  A failure as the leader.  We learned and realize every time I take students, we go: deadbolt, deadbolt this is what we need to learn.  


[Bonni]   Things you didn’t think you had to tell people, but now you know. 

[Lillian]    I had not taught them about that at all.


[Bonni]    Another session–which they’re probably doing right now.  We’re missing it because instead of having a syllabus–


[Lillian]    Was it a checklist or a guidebook? 

[Bonni]    Yeah tha– a guide book, we’re missing that so we just made up our own guide book.


[Lillian]    Exactly, what to do.   Well, thanks for your guidebook on how to do a podcast website.  So, I appreciate it and I know I our listeners will appreciate how UDL is in many ways used to reach all their learners so, thanks so much!


[Bonni]    Thanks for having me on your show.



[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 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 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, and I am your host, Lillian Nave, thank you for joining us on the Think UDL podcast. 


Blog at

%d bloggers like this: