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UDL Masterclasses with Jodie Black

Welcome to Episode 87 of the Think UDL podcast: UDL Masterclasses with Jodie Black. Jodie Black is a Teaching and Learning Specialist at Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, and this episode is actually the second time I get to talk to Jodie on the Think UDL podcast. You can find our earlier conversation on episode 12 in which we discussed her work at Fleming College. Today we will talk about her new project, Masterclasses, which are open to everyone worldwide. In today’s episode we will talk about what a UDL masterclass is and discuss three different topics that her UDL masterclasses cover. These topics include what it means to be a UDL-informed leader, what UDL-informed Course Design is, and the difference between UDL, Accessibility, and Academic Accommodations. Even if you cannot take a masterclass, this discussion is a fruitful one that helps us all understand the importance of UDL in leadership, course design, and its place in the university. Thank you for listening and a special thank you to the folks at the UDLHE Network for their financial support of the Think UDL podcast!


Find Jodie Black on Twitter at @JodieBlack32

Check out all of Jodie’s UDL Masterclasses on her website


Lillian Nave  00:00

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 87 of the Think UDL podcast UDL masterclasses with Jody black. Jody Black is a teaching and learning specialist at Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. And this episode is actually the second time I get to talk to Jody on the podcast. You can find our earlier conversation on Episode 12, in which we discussed her work with UDL at Fleming College. Today we will talk about her new project master classes which are open to everyone worldwide. In today’s episode, we will talk about what a UDL masterclass is, and discuss three different topics that her UDL master classes cover. These topics include what it means to be a UDL informed leader. What UDL informed course design is, and the difference between UDL, accessibility and academic accommodations. Even if you cannot take a masterclass, this discussion is a fruitful one that helps us all understand the importance of UDL and leadership course design, and its place in the university. Thank you for listening and a special thank you to the folks at the UDL a CI that stands for Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education Network for their financial support of the think UDL podcast. So I’d like to welcome Jody black back to the podcast for another round on think UDL. Thank you, Jody, for joining me.

Jodie Black  02:12

Thanks for having me. Glad to be back.

Lillian Nave  02:15

Yeah, it’s very, very rare, I get to have somebody back on the podcast. So I saw that you are doing some fantastic things. And you will be teaching about UDL, and I wanted people to be able to find out about it before they happen. And so that’s what I wanted to talk about today. And it has a wider conversation about how we can be teaching with universal design for learning. So since I’ve already had you on the podcast before, you’ve already answered the what makes you a different kind of learner. So I have a different first question for you. And that is, what can you tell me about the different kinds of learners you design your courses for?

Jodie Black  02:58

Wow. Another good question, Lillian, thank you. So the different kinds of learners that I try and design for, first and foremost, that are highly variable learners, like just acknowledging and being intentional that each individual person is highly variable. And then all the students we get, and all the different learners we have in our organizations are also highly variable. So thinking about that, in terms of, of this course, I think about one of the big areas is what their goals are, like why their adult learners like to have clear goals that are connected to their workplace. So they’re their professional lives as well, oftentimes, so being clear about the different learners that are joining us and their reasons for being there. So I’m expecting people that are going to be probably highly motivated to learn about UDL that are interested in meeting others with who are working in the field, and also that they’re looking for UDL experience. So I think those are some of the things that I’m expecting from some of our learners motivations as well. Yeah, the same range that we would expect from our students as well just highly variable. And each one unique and changing as

Lillian Nave  04:25

you know, you bring up a really great point about meeting goals and adult learners. And I must say that I have found a difference in what my learners in the college classroom are like as as compared to even like 20 years ago, because they are very clear on what they want, and less interested in things that may not fit with their goals. They’re not going to stand for busy work. Right, they’re not going to be motivated for things that aren’t closely tied to that. So having to be really clear on what they’re getting, I think is just invaluable at this point.

Jodie Black  05:12

Yes, I totally agree. And I, I feel that way too, as an as an adult, right. Like, I like to go ahead and have my goal and work towards that and have the facilitation and the design really support that growth. And so that’s what I’m hoping to offer others too. And in each masterclass, there’s the shared learning goals that are kind of part of the design of the masterclass, but also by designer space for personal learning goals that people can come up with, on their own or in consultation with me if they would like that. And to work towards that as well to kind of help meet that need of having your own to acknowledge that we’re coming in with our own personal learning goals as well.

Lillian Nave  05:58

Yeah. It’s like that adage that I have heard a million times in the last two years, which is that meeting could have been an email, right? Like people are not going to stand for a class a meeting or something where you’re like, why are we what what is the point? Why are we even here and spending all this time? So being so clear, yeah, with our goals and focusing on that is, yeah, that’s one of those huge things I’ve learned by being a UDL, specialist or coordinator is matching those things. So I certainly appreciate that about you and what you have to offer. Oh. So, okay, so these masterclasses are about UDL. And I wanted to know, how are you incorporating UDL, into your professional development that you’re offering? Yes.

Jodie Black  06:51

So a few a few ways. And the first one that I wanted to mention is the importance of sharing that I’m a learner too. And I’m a learner first. And so I think that that’s such a cornerstone, it’s not one of the principles, but it’s just sharing that I see myself on that spectrum of expertise as well. Like I’m not there to bestow the UDL information on to people, I’m sharing my experiences and helping and learning from them as well. And so I think being I think one of the ways that that we can incorporate UDL is sharing that and being not implicit about it, like very explicit, that I’m a learner, too. I’m a learner first. And that we’re all on this continuum, like it says so nicely in the UDL Theory and Practice book. I think that’s a really important foundation on how to incorporate UDL. And through the design as well. So I’m, I always think about who are my learners, right? Highly variable, and intentionally removing barriers and building expertise in the design. So picking checkpoints to kind of work with and I get out my, my UDL guidelines, they’re always, yeah, we’re both holding up our UDL guidelines.

Lillian Nave  08:21

showing each other

Jodie Black  08:22

Yeah, it’s close to your like, it’s close to your heart and your work right? And working backwards. So thinking, okay, expert learners are purposeful and motivated, what things might get in the way of the learners in this course getting to that, and then working backwards to intentionally incorporate those guidelines. So one of the checkpoints that I really focus on in the masterclass too, is mastery oriented feedback, as an example, so that’s one that there’s many throughout, but we will miss them all. But the mastery entity back to me is such a huge one in this type of environment. Because I think that’s what our learners are going to be looking for. And what sets this kind of experience apart, is getting feedback from themselves from the facilitator from each other, and building that type of those types of experiences and really intentionally using the guidelines. And then as well, I think, in the learning environment and the delivery, one of the ways to that UDL will be incorporated, as by like I said, about being explicit about being a learner to is being really explicit in the modeling. So throughout the delivery, I always try and say like, We’re doing this because, right, so there’s a role for like there’s a state of learning goal for this module, because that’s going to help us stay engaged and safe. They really purposeful as we move through. It’s also going to help gauge our progress and give each other feedback, right? That relates to the UDL guidelines in these ways. And so in the, in the delivery or that experience delivery is always such a one sided kind of term, but in the, in the experience, that’s one of the ways to model that and kind of like meta cognitive thinking, yeah. Yeah,

Lillian Nave  10:26

you’re connecting all these dots, you know, like this, your students or your learners are seeing kind of these bits of information. But because you’ve designed it, you’re you have a lot of background and experience, you’re the expert learner, at least along you’re at least further along the path. You see those connections, but often, our students or learners don’t see that connection. And so being so explicit, I found has made a huge difference for my learner’s, right.

Jodie Black  10:58

Totally, I find that as well. And it’s such an it’s such a great way to, to be modeling. And they can see, oh, that worked really well. For me, perhaps that could work if I do that in other areas as well, right? And ways when you’re helping others move through their UDL journey. It’s a really useful strategy. And the folks who will be taking this, these master classes will be in that kind of, I expect in that kind of lane, like they’re going to be looking for how can I help others as well as my own practice?

Lillian Nave  11:30

Yeah, yeah. And I must say that, that explicit connection has, I used to think that that wasn’t my job, and or that my students just understood it, or they got it without me having to say it. And I learned the hard way, that that is not true. So I teach first year students, here’s my little story about that. And my students get surveyed about, did they do any critical thinking in the class? And for for years? First of all, let me say we did, but I did not say, you know, here’s where we’re practicing our critical thinking skills. Or here’s where you’re going to put the critical thinking, apparatus or paradigm that we’ve been looking at into practice. And so I would get some students were like, Yeah, we did critical thinking all the time, I would get a lot of students who said, what, I don’t know, maybe we did, or we didn’t? Well, a couple years ago, I started to actually explain like, here’s our critical thinking part, or this purpose of this assignment is to work on our critical thinking skills. And here is when you work in this group, this is for you to you know, use these skills for critical thinking. And guess what those evaluations like totally changed skyrocket. And I didn’t change like what I was actually doing. But what I did do is set it up for the students to know why we’re doing it, what the purpose is, what they’re getting out of it. And because they’re gaining the skills, they just probably didn’t know what to call those skills, I think,

Jodie Black  13:06

totally, yeah, that’s such a great sample, right? naming it and be like, we are doing this now. This is what this like critical thinking can look like, it’s so valuable, right?

Lillian Nave  13:17

Well, you said like the first thing you said, I really appreciate, too, that we’re all on this journey together that you are modeling, you’re that you are a learner as well. And that Timmy is the expert learner, you are always trying to learn you, you’ve really never finished learning. And that humility is one of the big tenants that UDL teaches me. You know, to me, I see that as humility and in looking at all these universal design for learning guidelines. There. Yeah, it’s just saying there’s, there’s so many other ways of learning. There’s so many other people, there’s learner variability, we can learn from each other. But anyway, that that sort of humility is where I get

Jodie Black  14:07

totally that rings. So true to me, too. And I think again, like it’s one of those things that we might model or think we’re modeling but if we can call attention to it and say like, I’m a learner, too. Like, I don’t know, all the things. I have lots to learn from other people from new ideas, I might change my mind about things. All those things are possible, like it’s not fixed. And I find that really empowering and, and as a learner that we can all be capable of that. And to me, like like you said, the tenants of UDL, like that’s one of the things that really makes me feel at home with UDL is that type of right that that is an underlying tenant or philosophy about Yeah, type of framework.

Lillian Nave  14:57

And I think that does invite this belonging this sense, yeah, that you can be a part of whatever that educational environment is that you belong there, that it’s not so unattainable or that you have to be a certain way in order to be a successful biochemist or architect. But yeah, but you get to just add yourself to this journey, you know, or be be with the group and learn together. Yes. Yeah. Makes me feel like I have a place at the table.

Jodie Black  15:32

Yeah, I mean, exactly. Me too. And it’s, um, yeah, it’s pretty. It’s pretty exciting. Great. Ya know, gives you the UDL shivers of excitement. Yeah.

Lillian Nave  15:46

Yeah. It’s such a great, you know, here we are, we’re just putting the love on here. When, when you have that lens through which to see education, and you meet so many people who share that way of thinking, then the stuffy old Academy falls away to me. And I feel like I came from a somewhat stuffy academic discipline. No shame there for art history, but but when I get into the teaching and learning part with universal design for learning, it is much more about pulling each other along. And, and learning from each other than it is about being an expert and having to prove that you know, more than somebody else. And that’s just a huge difference.

Jodie Black  16:40

Totally. And I think that’s so true. And like, in our UDL world, it’s so nice to connect with other kinds of UDL. Practitioners who share that, that same vision, that same appreciation. And when we’re talking to people who are dipping a toe in UDL or aren’t as connected. I think that’s another thing that we can say like, what makes UDL different? To me, that’s a huge one. Like the that learners and learning is really like that. Is that the center and that that humility, and that connection that we’re all in this together? Such a cool, distinct thing about UDL. In my experience, I haven’t encountered another educational framework or community quite rivals that in that,

Lillian Nave  17:30

yeah. Yeah, yeah. And it is, it’s, it’s part of the culture, the culture that I’ve seen and, and knowing I teach a course on intercultural competence, and knowing that that has to be a deep seated value and belief system, in order to show up on the visible parts, like if you think about an iceberg, most of it 90% is underneath the waterline. And I think that what we’re talking about here, kind of the theoretical underpinning of Universal Design for Learning, right, is equality of learners, diversity of those learners. And then it comes out in these ways that that show that everybody is valued, and we leverage that difference for the betterment of others. So you, you’ve come up with three different masterclasses and I wanted to ask you about them. And for people who, we’re going to have this episode up for people to join us, if they’d like to. And you have a one called in UDL, informed teaching, learning and leadership. So wanted to ask you about that. And kind of two questions in one. What does UDL leadership look like?

Jodie Black  18:46

Yeah, great question. So to me UDL leadership, kind of the first caveat is that leadership does not equal management. So I think sometimes when we’re talking about UDL, leadership, and post secondary can sometimes think we think immediately to our org charts. And that’s not how I see it at all. So that leaders are truly throughout the organization. And leadership doesn’t have to do with title, but that just has to do with service. And, and I think that’s like a lot of the most impactful UDL leadership that I’ve witnessed has been from many different levels of the organization. And it doesn’t have to do with your with your job title or your level of org chart. So yeah, so I think that’s something to keep in mind when we’re talking about UDL. Leadership, of course, organizationally, it’s very helpful when people in those organizationally influential positions are also leaders. That’s a great, great thing for our systems and that lines up, but this course really, when we’re talking about leadership, we’re talking about UDL leaders who are in service of growing UDL and the people and systems where they’re working. It’s not the the management or the title. So to me what UDL leadership looks like, shocker, is part of it is modeling UDL. Right? Yes. We talked a lot about modeling, thinking that learning centered view of development and when we’re working with people and systems, all that are highly variable. So having those underlying values to your that inform your work is, I think, an important aspect of UDL leadership. I think another important aspect is that it is in service. So you’re working for others, right. And that, to me is another kind of tenant, as you would say, you have UDL leadership that I think on that looks like a really strong UDL leader, like they’re working in service of growing UDL and modeling that in their work. Another thing that another aspect, I guess, of UDL leadership, and what it looks like, would be that you use the guidelines in your work. So that that is intentionally done. So, for example, you could speak to how the guidelines inform your decisions, or your practices or your hiring, if you’re in that position, right, what informs your strategy or your relationships, that it is intentional. And then the other aspect I would point to is that you’re working with people, but also at a systems in level. So you’re trying to influence both the practice, like the practices of, of people, and of yourself, as well as trying to improve the system that supports or sometimes doesn’t always support UDL work. Right. So I think that’s a big part of leadership too. And, and like all things, UDL, it’s certainly not one size fits all, there’s a lot of different ways to be an effective UDL leader. And the larger reflection opportunities for anyone who’s journeying down this road as well. And that’s a big part, as well. So those are some of the things that I think what it looks like. Yeah, that kind of positive indicators.

Lillian Nave  22:32

That’s, that’s a, those are big shoes to fill. I mean, that’s, it’s aspirational. Yes. But, but it’s also, again, on that spectrum, I think you can be doing all of those things in a in small ways, and you don’t have to be the administrator in charge, you can be modeling it with every email you send out, you know, if you have a multiple means of representation, if you make your you know, your tweets accessible, you know, having Yeah, you are showing that you’re modeling that. You’re leading by example. And there. Yeah, definitely a lot of UDL colleagues that I, I follow, right, that that I want to do that people, you know, and Ganya, who’s like, taught me that it’s really important to practice what you preach when you’re on social media, you know, it’s not just UDL exist in your classroom, but it exists everywhere, like in who you are, and what you do.

Jodie Black  23:32

Yeah, definitely. And I think that idea, too, that it is a continuum, like, there’s many different ways to work towards these things. It doesn’t have to be like a whole multi year transformation, right? It could be, or it could be saying a start of a meeting that you’re sharing with your colleagues. Today, I really want us to focus on what we’re going to be learning today together, because I think that’s really going to help us stay focused, and I use the UDL guidelines in these ways. What do you could we do that today? And how will we know that we’ve got there? Like, let’s figure that out together before we even start? Like, yeah. And referencing the guidelines in even those everyday situations, like you said, email, that meetings, the kind of administrative sides of our work. Yeah, that aren’t always classroom focused.

Lillian Nave  24:28

Right. So yeah, providing lots of ways to communicate the chat or something or nonverbal. Yeah, ways that we can share ideas, that sort of thing and make it much more ecumenical. Not sure if that’s the right word, but but inviting more participation. Not sure where that word came from, but bringing more people in. Yeah. And you mentioned to having those clear goals and for a leader. I think it’s so true. A leader has to know what Their purpose is, what their goal is and have a vision. Because people won’t follow you, if you don’t have that clear vision, and if they don’t agree with it, right, if your goal is to be, you know, promoted. Yeah. That’s a bit individual, right? Yeah, exactly to, to serve and have others come alongside you to help advance the goals that you all share something we can all hop on to.

Jodie Black  25:35

Yeah, and there’s just so many ways to do it. Right. I think that’s one of the exciting parts, as well. And so keeping one of those principles in mind allows a lot of space to be creative, and use your own personal strengths. And also, we’re all working in such different contexts. And our kinds of situations are all very different. And so what’s possible for me to do within my system might be very different than someone else. But the way that I’m working, it is no less important than the way that they’re working with theirs.

Lillian Nave  26:09

So that course about UDL inform teaching, learning, and leadership, could be really a boon could be really appropriate for a lot of our listeners. But you’re offering actually a couple. Couple more. And so I wanted to ask you about another one of your courses, a masterclass. And that is, well, I’m actually going to throw back onto you the questions you ask. When I looked at your website, about your course design masterclass. The questions you ask are how do you layer and grow UDL in your course design practice? And how do you answer the question? Is this course UDL, and I can think of a lot of people who asked me these questions. Yeah. And I was like, Well, that would I would need a class to, you know, to have with you to talk about and now you’ve created that class. And this is great for individual practitioners, somebody who’s Hey, this summer needs to create another class and they were like, this would be good. So. So how would you answer it? Let me say those questions again, how do you layer and grow UDL in your course design practice? And how do you answer the question is this course UDL?

Jodie Black  27:22

All right, well, I’ll start with the second one. Adopt. Okay. Is this course UDL spoiler alert? A trick question. So, like you these are questions we get asked all the time, and come up often. And I think is this course UDL is actually a bit misleading. It’s a bit of the wrong question to ask. And in the core in the masterclass, we will go into this more. But to me a more useful question is how UDL is this course. Okay, so instead of, is it or isn’t it? It’s how, how is it? And it invites more, um, more space for that it could look a lot of different ways and still be considered UDL. If you haven’t noticed, there’s kind of a continuum theme in this work. But one that I think is very, very important. And so like, one of my personal professional pet peeves is hearing has this course been UDL. Right, or this course has been UDL. So we’re all good. Right?


Right. Let’s just stop there.

Jodie Black  28:35

Or stop, we’re done. And, to me, like, what does that even mean? Does that mean that every checkpoints been used? Does it mean that it’s possible, like, at what point does it mean that? You know, quote, unquote, it’s been UDL? So instead, I propose, instead of entertaining that question, I’d reframe it to say how UDL is this course. And then, when we’re looking at how to layer and grow UDL, looking at the ways that we might measure that. So yeah, so how sometimes I ask myself, how do you answer the question? How UDL is it? So like, what kind of how are you measuring that? And that kind of the continuum is that I think of there are like, how intentional is it? Like, to me one of the key indicators of is it UDL is how intentional is the use of UDL. So I love finding accidental UDL. It’s a great opportunity to increase intentionality. But to me that doesn’t mean that UDL has been integrated. It’s a lovely accident and an opportunity to grow that intentionality. But when we’re talking about how UDL is a course, or an experience and just using course here kind of as a general place folder for lots of different learning experiences. intentionality is a really important part. So how intentional is the UDL integration? How accessible is the course? And let’s use that very clearly. And in what ways? Is that accessible or not accessible? Because again, like there’s, that’s a big question, how connected is the course of the principles and guidelines and checkpoints? And that kind of goes along with the intentionality piece? I’d asked you how have barriers been analyzed and addressed? Is there a barrier analysis? Or is it a, you know, or not? Like, it’s just a happy accident, or it just worked out that way. Right. And again, these aren’t bad things, they’re just opportunities to grow. The fifth one would be how our goals and means in your course distinct. So that is an indicator to me as well. And then How sustainable is it? So I have a, I had a colleague who is making these amazing, amazing visuals for a course, but it was taking her entire time. And they were amazing, like learning tools. But I’ve I’ve had as it’s gonna happen for every course. Right? How sustainable is this? And that’s a question to, to ask to about when I’m asking how UDL is it? And so if we think about UDL as being on this continuum, like not is the course UDL or is it not. But instead, Netflix destination. And it’s just it’s a continuum, a continuum of growth. And here are some ways that I think that you could measure your growth in those areas. I don’t think this is an exhaustive list. And I think there’s room for others to add to it, or take away from it. Right, depending on their own goals. But the main idea here is that to layer and grow UDL in your course, I think you have to be clear about what you’re layering and growing. Right? And why. And it’s not just how many checkpoints Can we check off? type of exercise? A little bit? It can be a little bit more than that. So those are, yeah, so that’s, instead of asking, is it UDL how UDL is it? Yeah. And then creating ways to to assess how UDL it is, by looking at what are some of the critical areas that need to be there in order for a course to be considered UDL.

Lillian Nave  32:52

Yeah, and of course, it changes in every environment, you know, it needs to be flexible. Right. So perhaps in a early, like a first or second year STEM course, you need to really focus on multiple means of representation, right? So, so that students are able to understand complex diagrams or, or concepts and, and that’s like the building blocks of what they what they need to make sure that they are learning everything they have to and then compare that with maybe an upper level humanities class. And it may not be all about different levels of representation. Do you still do that? So you have maybe a reading and or you could listen to it, you have it accessible, things like that. But it’s much more about reflection, engagement, you know, those sorts of things. It matters, right? It matters who your learners are, if they’re the beginning of your college career at the end of their college career, it matters, where you are, and what you’re teaching. And so yeah, it’s gonna look different, right? For every course,

Jodie Black  34:03

totally, I have such a good point, when to build on that to like the faculty as learners are going to be very different to someone who’s very new in their UDL journey as a faculty member or learning designer, just including clear goals, and accessible slide decks might be a really important move, right? Yeah. Whereas someone who, like in your exam like is an more upper year seasoned or experience with using UDL and their design work that may be quite basic to them, and they want to be doing something more more complex, perhaps more nuanced in some other ways. So those creating room for that, like I don’t think there’s anything less UDL about a faculty member who is very intentionally and thoughtfully reflect Going on barriers in their course and trying to prevent them through good design. And using the guidelines, then someone who has a very, you know, on boat might appear as a really complex UDL design are very advanced. I think both are incredibly important. So it’s not that one is and one isn’t just how much is it and it gives us all room to grow. And it’s all aspirational to like, you can say, I’m here now, but I’d like to be there. Or I’d like to be there in these areas like, I rank. Maybe I drank myself, I’m like, I’m doing really well with the barriers, but it’s not really sustainable. I’d like to improve on that area. Right. So it becomes self check to and give us a few specific criteria to talk through instead of this big umbrella of just as a UDL. Yeah,

Lillian Nave  35:53

and that sustainable part. That’s a big word on our campus. That’s a big word in higher ed right now. But I think we have to really think about what’s sustainable for our teaching practice to like what you were saying, you know, if you’re doing this big visual that you were talking about, have a colleague, and that doesn’t give you enough time to provide feedback, or right. or do some other things?

Jodie Black  36:19

And what are the Yeah, what are those design trade offs? Yeah. And then how much to kind of looping back there, all three of them are kind of interconnected in a way to the leadership aspect. And systems change? How much rests on the shoulders of individual faculty? And how much can the system help support through a system? System Solutions, right, depending on the context that you’re working in, but I think that’s a question too, that might be bigger than this course, as well.

Lillian Nave  36:53

Yeah. And the sustainability part, too, makes me think about an adage, I’ve told told my students, whoever is doing the work is doing the learning. So if I’m going kind of bending over backwards all the time, and I’m doing a lot like I know, when I first had to teach a course, wow, I learned so much. Because when you teach, you just learned a lot more about your material that you thought you knew it. But now you really know. And then students can have a very shallow relationship with that material. And then you’re doing all the work, and they’re not getting a lot. And so transferring that work from, maybe I don’t have to have 17 lectures, maybe I have five lectures. And then the students are working together on a jigsaw kind of thing, where they’re working on stuff and giving it to each other giving it back. That’s more sustainable for me, right? And keeps me more energized to and also engages the students. So it ends up being a win win win. Where I used to think I’m not being a good professor, if I’m not delivering all the information. Yeah. And that took a lot of reflection for me to understand that’s not true. That’s just not true for I can be a really good professor, by facilitating by encouraging students by engendering their communication, hopefully, ends up being a better experience. Yeah.

Jodie Black  38:29

Yeah. And I don’t know, like, when we talk about kind of design and delivery, like I, we you met him all the time. And like I kind of referenced before. I’m like, I don’t know what word to use instead of delivery. But I’m growing more uncomfortable with it for that reason. I’m like, it’s not like it’s not a pizza.

Lillian Nave  38:50

Yeah, it’s more facilitation.

Jodie Black  38:52

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And what that looks like, and not that delivery is a bad word. But it’s just I’ve been, it’s something I’ve been reflecting on to what the what, what everyone’s role is and that learning experience, right?

Lillian Nave  39:08

Makes me think of I don’t know if you’ve seen this in Canada or international listeners, but there’s an American commercial and American company that makes pizza called does your know. And so the opposite of delivery is does your know so people would say oh, is this delivery pizza? Like did you did you get this pizza delivered? And no, they just cooked it in the oven. It was a frozen pizza. No, it’s does your no. So makes me think no, no. We made this together.

Jodie Black  39:37

actually awesome. It’s like design and designer know

Lillian Nave  39:41

exactly here. I don’t know I get no kickbacks from the DiGiorno Pizza.

Jodie Black  39:47

I think you’re on

Lillian Nave  39:51

I don’t know my brain just went there. I’m not sure why. But it is it’s it’s facilitation. And that what I look at especially online courses, which I’m still teaching right now, the design was like 80%, of, of getting everything together was so much, but that facilitation is everything to the students. You know, I mean, they can definitely tell if a course is poorly designed. But their enjoyment and engagement in the course is really dependent on how I can engage and interact with my students. Otherwise, it’s kind of an empty course. It seems, even though if it’s well designed, that’s so important. Yeah. Oh, for sure. So you have, you’ve been busy, you’ve been busy, because you’ve made three of these master classes. The first one we talked about was UDL informed teaching, learning and leadership. Second one we just talked about two was about course design. But then you’ve got another one, which is about UDL, accessibility, and academic accommodations. So I wanted to ask you about that I get this question quite a lot as well. But what is the difference between UDL, accessibility and academic accommodations? And why would someone need to go deeper into this issue? Yeah, and maybe, I don’t know take a masterclass in it.

Jodie Black  41:21

Ya know, for sure, it’s a question that, that I get a lot too. And that was kind of the the inspiration, I guess, for these master classes is what questions do you get? Do you get a lot and that take longer? To talk through than you might think, right? Yeah. So the difference between UDL, accessibility and accommodations? To me, I’ll start with a common academic accommodations. So academic accommodations are an individualized adjustment in someone in the academic environment. And I’m gonna use the student faculty terms here, too, as we go through. So academic accommodations, they’re not available to everyone. They’re not there often. By request, they must be requested by an individual. And they’re often need to be justified. So using medical documenting, it’s usually part of a different process in the college, as well. So I think of an academic accommodation is an individualized adjustment, that retrofit right for an individual learner. Yeah, accessibility is the intentional removal and prevention of barriers. So accessibility, unlike academic accommodations, is available to everyone. So you don’t need to request it. So even though both academic accommodations, so many A’s, academic accommodations and accessibility, both remove barriers, accessibility is available to everyone. You don’t need to request it. It’s through the design. And its purpose is to remove. Remove barriers. Yeah, so accessibility can also be applied in the academic environment, for sure. But it’s not exclusive to that. So accessibility, like, I love trains. It’s a weird, I just love Train, train stations. But one of the things I noticed when I’m traveling, and before all the COVID head, we were in Europe and going by train, and enjoy, I really enjoyed like seeing what accessibility features they had in their built environment and also in their information and communications. So a train station isn’t a learning environment, like it’s a transportation hub. But accessibility was alive and well there and showcase in many different areas. So accessibility isn’t just for an educational environment. And then finally, UDL is the intentional design of learning environments that both remove those barriers and develop expert learners. So that to me is the key difference. Accessibility is a key component of UDL. It’s you can’t have like we talked about in the previous question. You can’t have UDL without accessibility being present, but accessibility on its own does not UDL make. And so those are all three work together in such important ways. All three are very important. And I find that there can just be so much confusion between the three especially when you start making some changes. So I make a change to increase UDL on my course. Well What does that mean for my accessibility reports that I might have to do for the college? Or my responsibilities as a faculty member? Or what does that mean for these academic accommodation requests? And so there’s very, like, that’s a conceptual answer, I guess, but very, very practical implications. And this, they’re all important to me that this one is really close to my heart, because it’s one that often gets asked, and often has, when it’s not clear about what these three common areas are, and what how they’re similar and how they’re different and how they impact practice and systems in our post secondary environments. It really can impact students too.

Lillian Nave  45:49

Yeah, I have quite a few stories I’m collecting. In my my own personal practice of Universal Design for Learning. And one of the last semesters in like 2019 or so I had created a course a First Year Seminar course that had a good amount of Universal Design for Learning, I had Layard a good bit of it. And at the end of the course, I had a student who told me that she didn’t need to use any of her accommodations in my class, that there was never a time that she had to show me any paperwork. She had to do it in her other classes, but didn’t have to ask for any kind of special treatment. And she appreciated that because it is something that often the student has to initiate an advocate for and go through a lot. Yeah. And it was after I had done some reflection on the things that I would get accommodation letters for like, the most common one is like time and a half on quizzes, or tests to have an extra either a separate testing area or a longer time span or something like that. And that made me question, why do I even have these time limits right on these questions or quizzes, and for my situation, I realized I didn’t need them. It wasn’t a matter of having to know how to make a decision quickly in a particular situation. It was a matter of analyzing synthesizing information, but it didn’t necessarily have to be within five minutes or like that. And upon that reflection, I realized that I had created an unintentional barrier. And it had been brought to my attention when I had different students. And I hadn’t thought about those students clearly in the past, and that small design change in how I delivered those kind of retention quizzes, you know, you’ve done the reading and do it before you come to class. In changing that, it made not only my students lives easier, it made my life so much easier. Rather than setting different checkers or times for quizzes or holding different, you know, quiz times or exam times and, and having to do other things at least just I’m talking one instance here. It made life so much better for everybody.

Jodie Black  48:39

Exactly. Especially me as the teacher. Lets people. Yeah, totally. And and I think that’s a great point like, and when you make those UDL informed changes, they can often reduce the need for students to to need individualized adjustments through academic accommodations. And with that, as well, but that’s not always the case, either. Right, right. It can look, you may still need it like I hear the the kind of conversation to well, I’ve UDL my core, so I don’t understand why you don’t why you need these accommodations. I’ve already UDL did, right. So Right. So how do you help someone think through what that means? Because it’s very well intentioned, and they’ve worked very hard on doing this right at the faculty member. So sometimes it seems like Well, why do they still need an accommodation? I’ve UDL that. And yeah, right. And that kind of loops back to our previous questions and the masterclasses and those kinds of themes about how to how to help people think through what what it means when you UDL when you incorporate UDL into your course, and how those changes and Aren’t accessibility and academic accommodations to and making changes in any of those areas kind of impacts the other? The other two, it’s kind of like three legs of the stool kind of thing.

Lillian Nave  50:11

Yes. Right. And I must say, I, I didn’t want to infer and I didn’t say you were getting this from either. But I don’t want to infer to my listeners that UDL is supposed to make academic, academic accommodations obsolete. That’s not the point. It should remove barriers. But there’s also, they’re very important to have our offices of Disability Services and to have our academic accommodations. For sure. And so it’s not the point to if I do this, I won’t have to have this anymore. Although that was cause somewhat what happened in one instance in my class, but um, that’s not the point. They’re, they’re different. We’re not trying to get rid of it. But they all work, as you said, like three legs of the same stool, they all work in concert with each other.

Jodie Black  51:01

Totally. And, and it’s great when it does remove the need for academic accommodations, right. Like, that’s such a great outcome, especially for the student. Like sometimes the administrative rigmarole of accessing accommodations is a part time job in itself, right. Yes, yeah. In some cases, and it’s really fantastic to have the freedom to not have to do that. Yes. I think that’s really freeing. For the learner.

Lillian Nave  51:32

Yeah. I found that when I get to incorporate many layers of UDL, in my classes, it does make my life easier, happier, better for my students, and it makes my students lives better. When I can take away those barriers or increase the kind of more advanced UDL less every time I teach the course I find something new to kind of add.

Jodie Black  51:59

Yeah, I really did that, too. Yeah. And I think the testing example is, like you said, the requests that you often get from students is extra time on tests are used to sorry, before the changes. And I think that’s one that is a particular hot button at most post secondary institutions or organizations. And about UDL and assessment, you accessibility of assessment, and assessment and academic accommodations. And having a clear foundation or rationale, or being able to articulate it with some examples can go a very long way to helping people see through that, because it truly is my belief that everyone that’s working in the school is working for students, and they want the best for them, right. And it just may look like different approaches. And so helping and it is confusing, it can be very confusing. And so helping people understand those differences, and then how they, how they relate to your practice, and how they relate to the systems that we work in, and how we can use a deeper understanding of those three areas to influence systems to be to run smoother to communicate with each other. And, yeah, for people to collaborate, because oftentimes, there’s a lot of people involved in these three areas, a lot of different players. So practically speaking, it’s really important to have a strong foundation in where these three things, what they are, how they’re unique, how they overlap, and how they impact practices and systems.

Lillian Nave  53:41

Fantastic. That totally sums it up for us. So let’s say somebody’s interested in finding out more about these masterclasses. Jody, I’m gonna have links on the episode page for this, but what where can they find them? And how to contact?

Jodie Black  54:01

Yes, you can find out more at Jodi Very original website name jod, i e, black. And there’s course information there and registration. You can find me on Twitter, which is at Jodi black 32. Or you can email me at to Jodi black 30 And I’m happy to chat through if you’re interested but not sure if it’s the right fit or need some more information. Very happy to chat through that together. We’ve got people registered already, which is just amazing. And yeah, it’s just really neat to see the people who are opting into this and what they’re looking for. Right it’s they’re excited for the the community part like meeting other people from the field and also the To the topics and then the feedback. So those are the areas that seem to be catching people’s interest so far. So I hope to see.

Lillian Nave  55:09

Yeah, yes. Well, I appreciate it. And I’m so glad you’re doing this. I really appreciate what you have been doing with our UDL colleagues. I’m glad to see you’re offering some things for the general public to join you in this. So I just wanted to thank you for talking to me about it on the podcast. So thanks, Jody.

Jodie Black  55:31

Well, thank you for having me. And thank you for all that you and your crew do to serve the field. Right. I think this is a great example of UDL leadership. So thank you for creating these spaces for us to have these conversations. It’s pretty awesome.

Lillian Nave  55:45

I do love having these conversations. It’s great. So 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. 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 aides based on UDL principles. If you’d like to know more, go to the college website. 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 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.

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