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Your Humanity is an Asset: Instructional videos & Trauma-aware pedagogy with Karen Costa

Welcome to Episode 44 of the ThinkUDL podcast: Your Humanity is an Asset: Instructional Videos & Trauma-Aware Pedagogy with Karen Costa. Karen Costa is a writer and faculty development and online learning professional. Her book 99 Tips for Creating Simple and Sustainable Educational Videos came out in April of 2020, just in time to help all of us faculty who are trying to learn as much as we can about transitioning to online and hybrid formats! In this episode, part of our Summer 2020 series on UDL in online environments, Karen and I discuss what trauma-aware pedagogy is and how instructional videos can help with the effects of trauma on executive functions and self-regulation. We also talk about balancing structure and flexibility in online design and videos as conversations rather than presentations. In addition, Karen explains the Community of Inquiry (CoI) model of learning which focuses on teaching presence, social presence and cognitive presence and how videos help with each of these presences, along with creating an emotional presence as well. It is such a pleasure to have this chance to speak with Karen and learn from her insights into both trauma-aware pedagogy and how and why making instructional videos can improve any course!


Find Karen Costa on Twitter @karenraycosta

Karen’s website tells even more about what she does, her book, and her interests

Check out Karen’s for more information about how she can help you and your faculty!

Karen’s book 99 Tips for Creating Simple and Sustainable Educational Videos came out in April of 2020. You can find it through this link to Stylus or on Amazon

The Missouri Model: A Developmental Framework for Trauma-Informed Approaches

Karen gave a presentation on Trauma-Aware Online Teaching for the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) OLC Ideate conference in April of 2020 

Karen mentions Bessel van der Kolk as a trauma expert, and mentions his “trauma is unbearable”

Karen mentions her collaborator @CleaMahoney (who will be a guest on the podcast as well). Clea is full of great ideas to share!

Lillian’s Infographic for a Weekly Schedule for her online class

Here is Lindsay Masland’s example of a Weekly Schedule for an online course from Twitter

Teaching and Learning as Spelunking – Lillian’s video she included in her Liquid Syllabus that she and Karen discuss in this episode was made when Lillian was a student in Camp COOL this summer with Karen

Community of Inquiry Framework – Consists of Teaching Presence (instructor to student), Social Presence (peer to peer) and Cognitive Presence (student to content)

Flipgrid:  A great tool for students to record their own videos (free)

Brene Brown Netflix special: The Call to Courage

EdPuzzle: A fantastic tool that allows you to embed questions or prompts within videos (free)

TedED: Another tool that allows for interactive video discussions for students (free)

H5P: A tool that allows instructors to embed questions in videos (cost)

VoiceThread: A fantastic tool for student collaboration that gives the ability to instructor and students to annotate an image or video or text together

Online Learning Toolkit – The Online Learning Toolkit put on Camp COOL twice over the summer and has tremendous success. It also offers many other resources for your online learning needs. 

Fall on Call – If you need some extra support and a wonderfully dynamic community in which to practice your teaching this fall, Fall on Call can help!


Lillian  0:00   

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 44 of the think UDL podcast. Your humanity is an asset, instructional videos and trauma aware pedagogy with Karen Costa. Karen Costa is a writer and faculty development and online learning professional, her book “99 Tips for Creating Simple and Sustainable Education Videos” came out in April of 2020, just in time to help all of us faculty who are trying to learn as much as we can about transitioning to online and hybrid formats. In this episode part of our summer 2020 series on UDL in online environments, Karen and I discussed what trauma aware pedagogy is, and how instructional videos can help with the effects of trauma on executive functions and self regulation in students. We also talk about balancing structure and flexibility in online design, and videos as conversations rather than presentations. In addition, Karen explains the community of inquiry or COI model of learning, which focuses on three presences, teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence, and how videos help with each of these, along with creating an emotional presence as well. 

It is such a pleasure to have this chance to speak with Karen and learn from her insights into both trauma aware pedagogy, and how and why making instructional videos can improve any course.  

Lillian 2:15 

Thank you Karen Costa for joining me on the think UDL podcast.  

Karen 2:18 

Thank you for having me. I’ve been looking forward to this coming back from a pseudo vacation so I’m this is a nice way to return.  

Lillian 2:25 

I like that pseudo vacation because is it really a vacation? We’re not entirely sure, but we tried. Oh, yes. Yes. 

Okay, so I’d like to start with my first question I asked all my guests and that is what makes you a different kind of learner. 

Karen  2:42   

So I’ll try not to make this the subject of our entire podcasts. But I have quite a few things that make me a different learner. A fun fact about me is that I actually have a an ADHD diagnosis. So that 

 obviously, leads to a lot of challenges. But also, I like to think a lot of talents as well. 

Lillian  3:11   


Karen  3:15   

So for folks who probably worth mentioning, for folks who don’t know, I know, there’s a lot of misconceptions about ADHD. But I think it’s important. You know, one of the things I hope I can do is clear up some of those misconceptions. It’s something you’re born with whether you’re diagnosed later in life like I was, or earlier, women do tend to be very under diagnosed. The thinking right now is that it’s largely genetic, although we know now from the field of epigenetics that environment influences whether those genes get turned on or not. So in my case, they very much did, and it’s a neurobiological condition. So the thinking is that basically, right now dopamine seems to be a neurotransmitter, seems to be the name of the game and I just don’t have much of influences my, the way it shows up for me is focus and concentration. And for me focus is the ability to get started on something and to say, I’m going to I’m going to work on this instead of this and the ability to concentrate which is just once you’ve started something to stick with it. But the other I think what’s interesting in the context of  our conversation is the other big thing for me, and for a lot of folks with ADHD is that boredom is really excruciating for us and the way our brains work. We really don’t have any tolerance for boredom. So in my career, something I’m you know, realizing one of those gifts or talents that I talked about, is that I really do see myself as an advocate for creating engaging learning experiences. A lot of that is born of my own experience with less than engaging courses or workshops or learning So it’s it’s important to me to advocate for that I think learning should be fun and positive and creative and engaging. And I think folks with ADHD can really be a guide to that to help remind us of how important that is not only for learners with ADHD or other learning differences, but I think that benefits all learners as well. 

Lillian  5:20   

Absolutely, absolutely. And that so that already shapes who you are and how you want to create learning experiences for your students. So you know just shapes how you see the world.  

Karen: 5:35 


Lillian: 5:37 

I think there are a lot of strengths I must say I have a family member that has is diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and the strengths I see are so impressive. And this is a teenager who is the most energetic especially around, keeping younger children engaged and has so much energy that I am overwhelmed by how positive his influences in the lives of others. 

Karen: 6:10 


Lillian 6:12 

 And it is you know, it has such a stigma around the those letters ADD and ADHD. And, boy, I would like to join the bandwagon and be one of those proselytizers about how many wonderful things there are and, and, and additional good points there are about how many things you can do, how hyper focused you can be, how many, how productive, it makes many people how focused. It’s just something that I think is often misunderstood. So, how can we use that as an advantage? 

Karen  6:43   

Absolutely. You know, the thing that stands out for me is the idea generation. So folks with ADHD, which, you know, I don’t want to, I don’t want to sugarcoat it. It can be extraordinarily challenging, especially when you don’t have tools. I do have tools and I want to help other folks get tools. But folks with ADHD generate so many ideas and are so creative and certainly we need help. I actually have recently started working with a coach someone who helps me prioritize and organize all of those wonderful ideas so that they don’t overwhelm me. And but, you know, certainly it’s such an asset to to have that creative energy and to be able to generate lots of ideas in my work. 

Lillian  7:30   

Absolutely. And you are, you’re prolific and I’ve learned so much so I got to know you, actually, via Twitter at first because we both teach in first year seminar first year experience and you were so kind, you know, some late night tweet about first year seminar and you were so kind to say, oh, I’ve done some of that I can help you and answered some of my questions. And then I was very lucky to be a student or a participant in camp COOL, camp operation online learning.  And, and loved every minute of it learned so much over the summer. So I would have to say, you and several of your colleagues, their prolific ideas were fantastically helpful. Okay, so you have two things that I wanted to talk about both of them that recently I’ve learned from you, so of the many ideas that you have to recently I’ve learned from you, and that includes trauma informed pedagogy, and the 99 tips for creating simple and sustainable educational videos, your book that just came out in April, yes. And you have, let’s see, spoken about these things in lots of different areas. And I’ve listened to a couple of the podcasts you’ve been on and, and seen a couple of your presentations and I thought that it was very interesting how these two things seem to relate as well about how creating videos can be very helpful in, in helping students in creating trauma informed pedagogy. So I wanted to ask you about that, how videos and the use of videos helps with some of the things you already talked about, which are the executive functionings. Like, how do you focus on things? How do you follow a long series of directions? How do you determine which thing goes first? And those are kind of interrelated. So I guess my first question is, can you talk just a little bit about what is trauma aware pedagogy or andragogy, I saw you in your book talked about those two words. And maybe you want to talk about why you choose pedagogy or andragogy and then go into trauma aware pedagogy. 

Karen  9:52   

Sure. I tend to use pedagogy as a catch all I think folks are most familiar with that term. For those who don’t know pedagogy tends to mean, I think it technically translates to child leading, and andragogy translates to adult or grown up leading. What we know is that, you know, there’s no fine line, there’s no distinct line in between those two concepts. So, pedagogy, I think of kids as needing more direction, and adults might have, you know, more independence in their learning. But certainly there are cases where those don’t apply. So I’m not of the mindset of only using andragogy to talk about adult learners because, you know, as an example of that, I work with a lot of faculty learners in the virtual learning environment. And if you haven’t taken or taught an online course, and you’re maybe less comfortable in the online environment, that is really quite a stretch. So to assume that folks don’t need a lot of directions and a lot of support just because they’re adult learners, I think really sets them up to fail. So it’s really important for in that example, to be very, you know, supportive to provide lots of directions, lots of encouragement. And, you know, just one of the reasons that I don’t that I don’t lean heavily on andragogy and just use pedagogy as a catch all. So, and now, I’ve already forgotten what the question was. Can you, we were I think we’re talking about a definition of trauma was where we wanted to go. 

Lillian  11:32   

Yeah, let’s start with what is that definition and get into what is trauma aware pedagogy? 

Karen  11:37   

Sure. So I and you mentioned trauma informed before, I think it’s important to mention I’ve increasingly been using trauma aware in that in the Missouri model is an organizational model of trauma in has four phases. And trauma informed is like the gold standard, right? So that’s where you get after years and years of work as an organization. You’ve completely transformed the culture to focus on supporting folks with trauma and understanding trauma and you’ve really re-envision the way that you do everything. That’s the end game. We are… Trauma aware is where you start. Okay, certainly higher education. I don’t know of a trauma informed, higher education institution, I think we’re kind of barely starting the trauma aware process, which is fine. That’s where we are. Trauma awareness basically means that as you know, individuals working in these institutions, we can define trauma, and we can talk about its impacts. It’s a pretty sort of low-level starting point. And again, that’s that’s where we begin, we start where we are. So trauma, awareness, helping, it helps to get a definition of trauma. There’s different definitions out there. For me, trauma means something bad has happened and it sticks with us. So that persistence is sort of a defining factor of trauma, versus something that we’re able to brush off. So, you know, a very simple example would be getting a flat tire in most cases is really stressful, right? But it’s not something that stays with us versus getting into a serious car accident, right? Both of those are bad things, but the car accident in many cases might persist. It might stay with us, it might show up, not only physically but emotionally mentally. We might be anxious about riding in cars, we might be in more extreme cases, re-experiencing that traumatic incident. So something really bad happens and it sticks with us. One of my, a person I consider her teacher Bessel VanderKolk talks about trauma as being something that is unbearable. And because it’s something that we cannot bear, we, you know, we have these mechanisms to keep ourselves safe and functioning and that often means that we choose to kind of push it down or push it back. Some folks in The trauma literature talks about the wall. So we push that exposure, because we cannot bear it because it is unbearable, we push it behind that wall, which is a very smart thing to do. Our brains are incredibly smart and they’re trying to look out for us with that can lead to is, you know, persistent challenges and that we aren’t, we haven’t resolved the trauma, we haven’t gotten a treat it we’re just kind of pushing it down, which is what we often need to do to get through it. So something bad that persists or something that’s unbearable. Those are some good starting points. 

Lillian  14:32   

Okay. All right. So how does that trauma impact executive function and self regulation? 

Karen  14:39   

Yeah, so we can, might be helpful for folks to now bring this into our current circumstances.  And we, you know, there were folks who before this global pandemic would have said trauma is universal. The data shows that it is incredibly, incredibly prevalent in our population. Now we are going through these unthinkable circumstances. And most folks, I think now would agree that that trauma is universal. So what you’re what you’re hearing from folks is that they aren’t sleeping. Obviously, our relationships that we are grateful for being able to retain them. Virtually, our relationships have been impacted and that we aren’t able to, in most cases freely, you know, visit with folks hug folks, you know, in depending on our comfort level, a lot of that, you know, that social support has been blocked off. And we are, you know, absolutely struggling with mental health, depression, anxiety, all sorts of challenging things. So folks are recognizing this, this impacts our ability to do our work and to get through our day with, you know, the very basics of deciding what I’m going to do next. So that is, you know, really going to challenge us, I think in higher education and that I think of teaching and learning as both incredibly dependent on those exec function skills, the ability to again, focus, concentrate, and make decisions are all really going to be impacted by these traumas. So the thing I think is worth mentioning there, it sort of ties back to what I said before as our brains and our bodies are doing exactly what they need to do. They’re reorganizing to keep us safe. So they are perceiving this, you know, these multiple threats in our environment, and they are focusing on the threat to you know, these threats to our survival, which makes absolute sense and that the parts of our brain that folks you know, that do executive function work are getting sort of less attention or less energy. So it’s, you know, I think that’s important to mention, there’s nothing wrong with you, you aren’t doing anything wrong if you are, if your executive function skills have decreased, you’re doing everything you need to do, you’re focusing on what’s most important. And to, you know, to some extent, those things are outside of our control, in that our brains were have, you know, evolved over many, many years to focus on survival. So, you know, what I would add to that is that we need to really give each other grace. I think of, I’ll just, I’ll just bring it up because I just can’t seem to not bring it up. You know, I look at the the conversation about the hyflex model of requiring teachers to, you know, juggle these 19 different things in the classroom, which would be challenging on a good day. 

Lillian  18:00   

Right, when there wasn’t a global pandemic. 

Karen  18:02   

Yeah. But to to, uh, you know, and I’ve, I’ve heard Brian the guy who is credited with sort of bringing hyflux to the forefront talk twice now I’ve, you know, I want to learn, I don’t know everything but yet 

Lillian  18:17   

Yup, he was on our podcast as well. 

Karen  18:19   

yeah. Very nice, very nice man. And both times I’ve one of the things that stuck with me is that he has he’s been asked about this, and he has said, you know, it might, you know, it’s not for every circumstance. And I certainly think this is an example of that. So that’s, you know, one example that comes to mind when I think about from a teaching perspective, to ask folks whose executive function is really offline, by and large to do something that demands high levels of executive function is incredibly problematic. It could have very drastic impacts on folks, mental health and well-being, it is not evidence of a culture of care, and it’s not the time to do it. So, you know, I that’s one example that pops up around the impact of of trauma and executive function as it comes to teaching in this moment. 

Lillian  19:11   

You know, in our conversation too, he was very clear that it took many iterations in a perfectly sort of normal ish world to get to where that high flex model worked. And and he was very clear as like, it may not be right and it may not be the best thing for right now. But it was such a very interesting model. I think you and I both think, I I think you’re saying this he was a lot of administrators like it but the the teachers this not necessarily because it’s a it covers a lot of things that I’m sure a university would like to see covered. But it’s really a difficult ask at this point for many. Certainly some can do it but it’s a more of a difficult ask, I think, for all the things that you’ve just said about executive function, 

Karen  19:58   

and I just think teachers We need to be realistic about what’s going on in people’s minds and hearts and bodies right now. And, you know, there’s a lack of awareness about how brains work in higher education. And this is a great example of that, putting that on folks right now has the potential to re traumatize folks who are already, you know, living through a trauma. So I’m very much against it. I can’t say, you know, in every single case, I don’t know every specific instance. But by and large, it’s, I think, a good example of a lack of awareness about the impact of trauma on teaching and learning. 

Lillian  20:40   

I appreciate that I think our listeners will appreciate that too. Especially that idea of giving people grace that we need to give ourselves grace. If we’re saying, I’ve got to do this, I need to do this for my students. I have to cover all these bases and then realize that may not be the best thing for ourselves and eventually then for our students, it’s not going to help us if halfway through the semester, we just can’t, you know, do the same thing that we said we were going to do. So give ourselves a little bit of that grace. So that, the executive function and self regulation, those are two important parts of the UDL guidelines. So self regulation is under that engagement part asking our students to, to know how they’re doing to think about how they’re moving forward to become expert learners. And the executive functions is on the action and expression side of the UDL guidelines about how to plan how to set appropriate goals, how to achieve those goals. So these are two things that are really important to be aware of in this trauma aware pedagogy. So things like the ability to plan, the ability to focus attention, the ability to remember instructions. And then juggle multiple tasks. All those things are impacted by trauma. However, there are things that we can do. And that’s what our UDL guidelines help us to do is say, point us in the right direction. How can we help our students with being able to plan being able to focus attention, remember instructions and juggle multiple tasks? So how is it then that you see making simple and sustainable videos are going to help that in these executive functions and self regulation? 

Karen  22:30   

Yeah. And something came to mind is, as you were going through that, I don’t, you know, I really think we need to balance grace, simplicity, with also keeping folks actively engaged to the extent possible in their lives, in their work in their courses. So we know that a sense of purpose is incredibly important to our health and our well being. So there’s all kinds of research and data about what happens when we lose that sense of purpose, that sense of meaning in our lives. It’s not a good thing. So I think, you know, as you’re asking that question, I think it’s important balance between flexibility and structure in our courses. What that looks like, for me in my classes is that I’m saying to, you know, I’m incredibly flexible with deadlines. And I’m also saying to my students, I want to keep you on track towards your goals. I want you to finish this course, to the extent that you are possible. So I’m going to be flexible with deadlines, but I’m also going to encourage you to meet those deadlines. So I think that it’s really important that we don’t, you know, I’ve seen a lot of folks talking about flexibility and that’s incredibly important in It’s a trauma aware strategy and structure is also a trauma aware strategy. So to bring that, you know, back to videos, there’s, you know, countless ways that we can use videos to support our students. Well, maybe not countless, but I guess 99 right. 

Lillian  24:18   

Let’s just count 99 . 

Karen  24:20   

although, you know, I have a little list of blog posts to write of like tip 100 or tip one on one thing, so yeah, things that have come to me since it’s been published. But, um, you know, that a couple things come to mind. Connection and relationships, of course, are fundamental to our student success and always got to mention to our success as faculty, we’re looking for those spaces of mutuality. So when winds work, things that benefit our students and that benefit faculty, so, building relationships in our online courses, that’s something I do through my videos. What I think is interesting to mention there in the context of trauma is that trauma absolutely impacts our relationships, right? It impacts everything. But it is absolutely a very normal trauma reaction to be hesitant to, to trust. And one of the, you know, the things I like about videos is that it really puts things on students terms, right? So there’s a lot of choice in these videos that we make for them. If we’re, you know, if we’re coming from a standpoint of connectedness and humanizing in our in our videos, so, you know, when I’m creating a video for my students, encouraging them to be successful in the course and to, you know, share with them, how they can navigate these challenging times. Some students might, you know, on, you know, Tuesday, you might not be ready to process that right. But I can watch you know, I can watch it on Wednesday because you know, if you’re like me every day, every day brings new adventures. And so there’s a lot of choice in how students want to engage with the video, which is, choices are an incredibly important part of trauma awareness. You mentioned the ability to to pause and playback, right. So if you’re struggling with focus and concentration, and again, I think it’s important to distinguish, for me focus is about getting started being able to draw our attention to something and concentration is sticking with it. So if you’re making, for example, a video tutorial about an assignment, students can pause that and playback they can watch it two or three times if they need to, if things just you know, they watched it on Tuesday, and it didn’t quite land because they were having a really tough Mental Health Day on Tuesday, they can return to it on Wednesday and know that it’s there, they can go to a specific section of the video and rewatch it. Which I think not only is that giving them that information, but I think that’s incredibly, you know, we need to be more a bit more aware of, of reassuring folks and taking, taking some of the pressure off. You know, putting pressure on people right now is just so not good. You know, I had a deadline the other day and I needed to take some time off and the editor I was working with said “Karen, please, I need you to be well, please don’t hesitate to take the time”. Just him. I still just him saying that took the pressure off. And I was I I met that deadline. If he had said, Oh, no, I really need it by then I don’t, it would have overwhelmed me and  

Lillian: 27:42  

Yeah, panic sets in.  

Karen: 27:44 

So I think that’s a nice feature of videos in the in this moment in time is that, you know, I don’t have to grasp everything right in this moment. Right. There’s a little bit of pressure taken off. I can watch it on my own terms when I choose to when I’m feeling focused. And I know that it’s not going anywhere. It’s still there. If I want to look back on that, I think that’s a really nice bonus to videos in this moment in time. 

Lillian  28:10   

Absolutely. All of that flexibility and multiple means are all important UDL guidelines. And you know, having closed captioning or transcripts for those videos is also helpful to allow for students who maybe want to read the directions or have that that copy next to them while they’re doing it so they don’t have to go back and forth in the video but just having all those options or again, a UDL guidelines or principles, multiple means and that, I guess goes back to your first point is it’s choice, choice on the student. How is it best going to help them they can determine if they watch it right before if they watch it five times if they read the transcript or all of that is going to be helpful because our students have very different lives. Crazy, you know, live sometimes working full time. Sometimes taking care of other people and now in the pandemic, lots of other structures, lots of things that may be impeding that ability to pay close attention at a particular time. So having easy to get to, rewatchable videos in multiple forms, I think is genius. So we cannot underestimate how important that is for our learners in online hybrid and hey, even in seated classes, having those things that students can see over and over again, or use I think, is super important. 

Karen  29:36   

And I do want to, you know, follow that with a little plug that we always want to be mindful of, of faculty success in faculty, mental health, and you know, it can, it can be very, you know, you can want to make all these videos for your students, because you do, you’re like, Wow, this is great. That sounds great. Sign me up. I’m going to make ten videos today, please Don’t do that. Keep it you know, keep it simple and sustainable. So, you know, making one video is a great place to start, keep them short. You don’t need to be fancy, you don’t need to get any special technology, speak from the heart. You know, captions are great, I use screencast o Matic, which I find that’s my system right now that I find that’s really an easy way to add captions and I keep it simple, but you know, just just be mindful of your own overwhelm, and potential for overwhelm. And we, you know, as we’re going through this, I know we want to do what’s best for our students, and we’ve also got to take care of ourselves. 

Lillian  30:46   

Yeah. Two things that our conversation sparked in me is that flexibility and deadlines are really important. And just yesterday, I realized that I didn’t have, let’s say a schedule like a, a recurring schedule for my students that’s coming up soon. And so I’m taking what I learned from another faculty developer, Lindsay Maslin, also from Michelle Pecansky-Brock about setting up those schedules, I made an infographic that kind of set out the schedule of two days, we’re working on discussions, and there’s a deadline. But I still don’t like that word. But I want just like you said, I want them to be able to finish the course well, so we need to start the discussion by a certain time. And then we take a day off or two to think reflect, and then go deeper in the discussion. So kind of go back to and work on things. So I set up a schedule where it’s two days soft deadline, at four o’clock on a Friday, we start on a Wednesday, and then a couple days off to think let it settle, and then another deadline on Tuesday, and then we start the next week on a Wednesday with a synchronous kickoff, which would be recorded, and so that sets up they always know there’s just two deadlines Friday at four Tuesday at four. And there’s not going to be any other time that they are responsible for it. But I also want to add in, and I haven’t I’m probably gonna have to tweak this is it as a soft deadline, or, “hey, I want you to meet these deadlines”. But if there’s something, know that you can, you know, you can talk to me or we can set it up because there’s enough time in between that one could you know, something happens on that Friday, you can put it in on Saturday or Sunday and not be so far left behind. So trying to set up that structure, but allow for flexibility is, I guess I’ll be honest, a new concept for me, because I used to have due dates that were at 11:59. And sometimes they were on Sunday, and sometimes they were on Tuesday and I can see how that’s difficult to not have that schedule. I certainly like a schedule. And now during this time when there aren’t schedules, it’s really ,it’s really hard to Know what day it is. I keep calling it blurs day because it seems like yeah, a different day. 

Karen  33:04   

Yeah. So, um, you know, to that point about about schedules and deadlines, I think that our students are going to start getting the message about whether we are going to come down hard on them about deadlines, or we’re going to be flexible and caring, they’re going to get that message from from day one. And that is a message we communicate to them not only when we’re talking about deadlines, but also in every communication we have with them. So you know, they’re going to pick up on those those cues from moment one, so that first email that you send out to students, they’re going to know is is this professor going to care for me or is this professor you know, am I going to feel like they’re, they’re coming after me. So just, you know, being mindful of, of our tone and being encouraging to students, doing you know, appropriately to the extent we feel comfortable sharing that we are in this too, we are challenged too, maybe share a quick story with them about a deadline you missed, and that you, you know, got it done a few days later and how you communicated with your, you know, supervisor or colleagues about that deadline to model that for them is is really important. In addition, I think we should be very, you know, direct with them and say, these are deadlines because I, you know, these deadlines are in place because I care about you, and I want to help keep you on track. And if something comes up, please do not hesitate to let me know, if students you know, don’t let you know, a big part of online teaching is doing outreach. So if you have students who miss deadlines, you can email them a couple days later and say, “Hey”, and we don’t say, “what’s wrong with you. Why did you miss this deadline?” We say, “I’m concerned about you. I see you missed a deadline, what can I do to help?” and in many cases, in my experience, students are so great. For that, and you know, they were sick or someone else was sick, or they’re an essential worker, and they had hours tacked on whatever the case may be, and they’re, they’re eager to get caught up. So just, you know, really being mindful, recognizing our shared humanity. And I think setting that tone throughout our communications with students is is helpful to keeping students on track within a flexible model. 

Lillian  35:26   

Oh, absolutely. I’ve been thinking a lot about that flexibility and deadlines, too. And when I was taking the camp COOL over the summer, there were, I think you guys struck exactly the right balance because as adult learners and some of us were teaching or doing other things, you know, at the same time, it was really the only person who we’re letting down is ourselves if we’re not, you know, putting in the effort or getting it in a particular time. And there was one point in the in the summer and the camp where You asked us to think about making a video, and thinking about presenting to our students. And I remember having to think about it for a long time, like, I’ve had this kernel of an idea, but it really took a long time for me to come up with what it was going to look like and how to do it, and then finally do it. So I really appreciated having a flexible deadline. And the time to think about it, and probably is one of the better things or more, I guess, breakthrough things for me is coming up. And it was a video about spelunking, and how I wanted to take my students through a cave or something like that. And that, that ability to kind of wait on it and think it through and then do it when I was, thought I finally had it together, you know, not making a deadline where it would not be as good, But coming through when I was really ready. And I know we can’t do that for like oh, wait for All right, we can’t do that. But allowing for that flexibility.  

Karen  37:03   

Well we probably could. But that’s another conversation.  

Lillian  37:09   

Gotcha. But, yeah, so allowing for for the good work to come through, 

Karen  37:13   

Right. Certainly. I think that’s it. I remember that video and it’s a fantastic video and it sparked awareness for me about it, you know, what I remember about that video is that you were in conversation with your students in that video and I had my own little aha moment. And that’s probably you know, that’s on the list of tips to be tip 100 or tip 101. There’s a there’s a dramatic difference between a video where you are presenting to your students in a video where you are in conversation with your students and the types of videos that I write about and encourage folks to make, you are in conversation with your students. Those are what Michelle Pacansky-Brock would call humanizing videos and you know, it’s I think it takes time to figure that out because there’s so many people out there telling us to make this this, you know, high tech, high production value, presentation style video. So, you know, it absolutely makes sense to me that that you needed some time to get there. And you absolutely did. And you had a conversation with your students. And you know, that’s, that’s a, that’s a big aha moment for a lot of folks making videos how to how to talk to that little, little green dot and see your students there and speak to that. And I think, you know, the point here is that things take time and who am I to say, you know, with what, what amount of time it’s going to take for different learners. So I think, you know, we do have, we do have some deadlines we have to meet in most of the courses the way they’re structured, but we can build in some flexibility. Absolutely. 

Lillian  38:49   

Great, right. One of the the, and I will put a link to that spelunking video. Finally. 

Karen  38:57   

Oh, good. I’m so excited. Yeah. I think that a lot of folks will resonate with that wonderful video. 

Lillian  39:04   

I hope so. It was it was that silly side of me too, so, and a local cave. So I was playing around with zoom backgrounds, but a local cave and we’ll see and hopefully the students will find that inviting and not super duper silly, but hopefully. 

Karen  39:22   

I am a big fan of silly and videos and I think if you’re having fun, it will come across in the video and you know, there’s a lot of videos out there we are not having fun and it it comes across so be real be human speak from the heart be silly, and the rest will fall into place.  

Lillian  39:41   

Yeah, I had to take it, like five different tape takes because to stop laughing from the beginning. It took a while. Okay, all right. So another thing I want to ask is something you brought to my attention also over the summer in camp COOL. And that’s that community of inquiry and the three different types of presences in a community of inquiry, and how well making videos for students can help support each of those areas. So maybe you can give us a little explanation of that, and, and how videos might help in in creating those presences. 

Karen 42:22 

Sure so, in the communicative inquiry or COI model, we talk about teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence so, a simplified version of that, that a lot of folks like to talk about is for the social we would talk about peer-to-peer connections, for the teaching presence we would talk about student-to-teacher connections, and then for the cognitive we would talk about student-to-content connections. So that might be a helpful way to frame it. So, one of the things you can do, just a little tip is when you’re designing your online courses or teaching them, is you can sort of look for those connections or interactions so, where in your course or how in your course are students connecting with each other? In many cases that’s the discussion, but it could also be in synchronous sessions. It could be within synchronous sessions it could be in break out rooms, I’m a huge fan of the chat, um so you can look in your group work, which can be done well although it brings challenges, so looking for those peer-to-peer connections. And then looking for instructor or professor to student connections so where are you connecting with students? Um, that can be through email, it can be through announcements it could be through your videos, and yes of course it can also be in synchronous sessions. And then learner to content so how are students invited to connect with the course content? One of the considerations there is if you are kind of creating, if you’re of the kind of mindset teaching is the filling of a bucket, you know, you’ve created the entire course, you’re saying what matters, um, are you giving students a chance to really connect with the content, giving learners, helping learners to set their own goals, and to have some choice over what they’re going to focus on is a great example of connecting students with content. So, when we bring that back to videos, obviously, those are a great way, they cut across all aspects of the COI model, also mention there’s a fourth lesser known, um, I don’t always mention it but emotional presence which certainly is sort of the fourth element of the COI model though it’s not always included when we talk about it. So videos, obviously, the big one is the teacher presence, so when I create videos, and again, I don’t think this happens if we are presenting at our learners, I think it happens when we’re in conversation with our learners, that helps to develop our presence. So, I talk about this in the book, every time I’ve taught with videos, in the student evaluations, my students always say, I didn’t think I was going to get to know my online professor and I feel like I really know, got to know Karen, because of her videos, they will always, always, always, mention the videos in the context of getting to know me. Which is just so important. And I did, since I’ve been teaching online maybe like the first term I taught which would have been in like 2007, and then one term where you know it was just chaos, um I didn’t use videos and absolutely in that most recent term, it, you could absolutely sense, the difference in the community in my online course. And I immediately was like Oh, gosh I gotta get back I gotta get these videos made. So, they really do work to connect us to our learners and to help us be present in the course when they are done in a way that is engaging, that is inspiring, when we are speaking from the heart, peer-to-peer connections, maybe that is a you know a lesser place where instructor created videos can have an influence although I certainly do talk to my students about developing peer connections in videos, but I will make a little plug here, for not instructor generated videos, but student generated videos, I’ve been using FlipGrid a lot, we used it in COOL, I’ve been using it primarily with faculty learners and it’s a lot of fun there’s emjois and lots of you know colorful tools that you can play with so, I’m a big fan of FlipGrid for connecting peers. In then in terms of connecting students to content, we can create I guess I’ll say the L word, lectures. So we know a lot of folks are leaning heavily on lectures, I think that transition that we just went through to emergency remote teaching, kind of obviously , you know chaos. But a lot of folks went from giving hour long lectures in a face to face classroom to creating hour long videos, or doing hour long synchronous sessions.  

Lillian 45:37 

And what do you think about those?  

Karen 45:40 

I think that everybody has to, I can’t make a judgement about what people need to do to get through the day and to get through that crazy term that we just went through. What I say to folks who share that with me is what, you know I express curiosity, I say what would happen if you split that lecture from  60 minutes into four 15 minute videos. What would that change for you and change for your students? So I encourage folks to at least break it up, if they’re going to lean on that, and my rule of thumb is no longer than 10 minutes but aim for five, in terms of the way our attention spans work. Certainly a 60 minute video, unless you are an incredibly charismatic, you know I wrote a piece once about Brenè Brown’s Netflix special, and it, she’s giving a talk or a lecture and it’s about an hour it might be an hour and 20 minutes long and you know, I was hanging on every word, but most of us are not Brenè Brown so there are folks who can pull it off but I think for most of us we really need to be mindful and if you’re going to use lecture, cut it down, or split it up and break it into smaller sections. The other thing that you can do is use something called Ed Puzzles so let’s say you create, you’re going for that hour long lecture okay you know what can we do to help you and your students? You can bring that into Ed Puzzle and you can interject or input, it’s an “i” word, whatever, you can bring in questions, so the video will pause and a question will come up on the screen and students can sort of answer a multiple choice question, or it has a reflection option so you can have an open ended question. So that would be a nice, if you’re going to lean on lecture, that would be a nice tool to help connect students to the content. If you’re interested in moving away from lecture, you can do things in your videos such as keeping them short and telling stories instead of talking at your students, having conversations with your students in videos. Interjecting lots of questions in your videos so I will often ask questions and I might even say, I want you to pause this and think about this for a minute. So again, that idea that we’re not presenting at people but we’re in conversation with them can help connect our learners to content. And the other thing that came to mind that’s relevance so we always want to invite students’ own experiences and knowledge into the conversations, so one way to do that is to start your videos and whether they’re going in the lecture direction or not, by asking students or asking learners what they already know about a topic, to activate that prior knowledge. So those are just a few little things we can bring into our videos to make them more engaging for learners and more effective.  

Lillian 48:49 

You know, Flip Grid is something I’ve started to use in the remote instruction and I think the first point you made in our discussion is humanizing and Flip Grid allows for that human connection and we can see each others faces, and the students were connecting through that and you can comment on each others so it can be like a conversation back and forth, um and you also made me think of things like voice thread where students can have a conversation if you put up a slide or an image and then you can have students, they can either text or record an audio or do a video, so all of those different ways, you’re making me think of, wow there’s a lot of ways I could use that peer-to-peer social interaction that I didn’t, I haven’t done yet so adding lots of ways for students is going to be helpful.  

Karen 49:45 

Yeah, I lean less on voice thread in that I think there’s a cost attached to it and Flip Grid I think it’s free but you can do a lot with it so that might be a consideration for folks. Worth checking out, set up a test grid, send it to your friends, play around with it, I gotta give a shout out to my partner in crime Clea Mahoney who always challenges me to step out of my comfort zone and she added it to a workshop we did with faculty back in January, and I’m always a little, I have the control stuff so I was like oooh I’ve never done this before and she’s like “Yay let’s do it” and it was fantastic so, channel Clea be willing to try new things it always turns out okay and if you make mistakes, that’s all part of the journey so if you haven’t tried it yet it’s definitely worth a try 

Lillian 50:45 

And I will be interviewing her soon as well. Clea! Yes. Some of the other ways we can make videos engaging is again this may have a cost is H5p is like a puzzle, there’s like voice threads so depending on your institution, it’s quite possible that, our listeners their institution has like a membership or a subscription to voice thread of H5p, and then there’s also TedEd which I think is also free that allows you to import videos, you can make your own video and then add questions or things like that and Ed Puzzle is that a Freemium or completely free? 

Karen 51:23 

It is Freemium, yeah, and the other thing I’ll mention about Ed Puzzle, you can import videos that you’ve created and upload it through YouTube and bring these question elements into your own videos, or, you can find other YouTube videos that someone else has created right? So, someone’s already done a fantastic job, you can bring those in as well, and within Ed Puzzle there’s also Ed Puzzle videos that other folks have already created and shared, so all of this again going back to being mindful of your own limitations your own needs as an educator, and you don’t, so many folks, I love y’all and you are just, you just want to do it all, but it’s okay to say, you know instead of making my own video I’m going to use someone else’s video because there’s a good enough video out there for me to share with my students and good enough is fantastic right now.  

Lillian 52:20 

Yeah. I spent way too long, way too long, looking at several of those tools to add questions, and went down quite a few rabbit holes and then found that at one point, the one I had chosen, started out accessible, and then by the end after I put it through something, I think it was the H5p, at that point it might have changed since then, I lost the closed captioning or I lost some of that accessibility. And as a UDL coordinator, I can’t do that part or at least I need to pull in a transcript or something like that and I noticed in the beginning of your 99 Tips for Creating Simple and Sustainable educational Videos, you make the point early on that accessibility is not a foot note. Have to make sure, why do you say that, can you tell me just a little more about accessibility in your videos?  

Karen 53:20 

Well, we tend to do that, we tend to tack on the accessibility questions we tend to tack on diversity equity, inclusion conversations, as like, as the footnotes, I think we just, we’re all learning in those areas, and I just think we need to do a better job of starting with those conversations and weaving them throughout our discussions and just being a bit more mindful. So certainly, videos, when I started making videos, so that was like I said 2007, I would, I was very much in the accommodations mindset of supporting my learners so that was, and I think a lot of folks were. If a student needed an accommodation, they had to provide documentation and request it and it was all on the student. And I’ve certainly been on that accessibility journey and learned that learning so much and I still have so much to learn and I love to surround myself with people like Clea who is so good at that and who asks those hard questions and makes sure that we are creating accessible content and folks like yourself and so many learners in Camp COOL and people I follow on Twitter, and you know, it’s not always the most convenient and it does take time but I think we can do it and be mindful of our own time and our own limitations. Putting captions on my videos from scratch it does it takes a lot of time so I lean on Screen Cast o’matic I think it’s like 12 bucks a year for the deluxe version, and for a 5 minute video it probably takes me 3 minutes to add captions so it’s absolutely doable, get yourself some tools ask around see what other folks are doing, I look forward to a day when there are even better tools, um, for accessibility, I know those tools are coming. But in the meantime, keep it simple, but that’s another thing to think about if you’re trying to make five videos per week for your students and you gotta put captions on them you gotta factor that into the time plan so maybe you have to rethink that because captions are really important.  

Lillian 55:45 

Yeah and for the free version, you can do Screen Cast o’ Matic for free and upload to YouTube, but you do just have to check, and YouTube will create the closed caption, it doesn’t take too long, so if people don’t want to pay the premium there’s that kind of way to add closed captions. And there’s some easy tutorial videos that I found that tell you how you can fix a YouTube caption if that auto generated caption is somehow off. So yeah I learned that this summer too. It was probably from one of you guys at Camp Cool. I’m pretty sure. So there are ways to make your life easier if you want to make those five videos you don’t have to write our the captions but you can just check and make sure they’re pretty good if you just upload that Screen Cast o’ Matic to YouTube and then you can send it to students with a YouTube link. Okay so, my last question is, your 99th point, or tip I should say, and well you’ve already said it today, because you keep it at the forefront of your teaching and that is from the heart. So I was wondering why that is so important? 

Karen 57:00 

I think that it’s important in that a lot of folks I work with, I think the word coming to my mind right now is perfectionism. And pressure as well. When folks start this video creation journey, that perfectionism that is so pervasive in higher education, what your videos should look like which I talk a lot about in the book, and that message is still out there about what videos should look like. I see posts on Twitter all the time “Top 10 tips for instructional videos” and I think oh, this is great maybe I’ll find something new. And I’ll read them and I’ll think oh gosh I don’t agree with any of these because they’re all focused on technology and production value and this perfectly polished thing, whatever. And that shuts people’s creativity down, and it makes the process of creating videos stressful, and just not enjoyable and not something you can sustain right so I went down that rabbit hole and certainly for about a year I was trying to make that video and it wouldn’t fit and I just found myself avoiding it so what I have found having gone through that process and come back, is that when I speak from the heart, those are the videos that I’m most proud of that when I’m making it, it feels good that’s really important right, like, of course there’s things in life that we all have to do that are going to challenge us and will be uncomfortable but I think as teachers as educators we have to be looking for those spaces of positivity of flow, of where our energy comes alive and for me when I’m making a video like that when I watch it back I think okay it’s not perfect and its good enough and this is what I want to share with my students, I’ll add that I had ane experience this spring and I think I shared on Twitter, I encourage people to make mistakes in their videos and to keep going and to not only make it easier on yourself that you don’t have to 100 takes but also to model mistake making for our students, and I almost always make a mistake I misspeak or whatever, and I made a video and I just happened to very rarely, I didn’t make any mistakes, and I got to the end and I thought oh gosh, I was disappointed that I hadn’t made a mistake and I just think those authentic genuine heart centered videos are so important, those are the videos that I hear form folks that I’ve spoken to them, hear from students I’ve spoken to them, and I think, that you know that goes back to our culture in academia and higher Ed, we are not a heart centered culture we live in our minds quite a bit which is you know problematic on many levels and I think one of the things this pandemic is bringing up for a lot of us is we are having very emotional, physical reactions to what is going on and we can’t think our way out of those we’re going to have to start talking about our emotions and our bodies, and I think one of the things I can contribute to our community is to advocate for that heart centered approach for students, for faculty, and for our leaders. We’re tough on our leaders we of course have to hold them accountable but they’ve, if we’re going to create a culture of care, we’ve gotta care about them too.  

Lillian 1:00:50 

You know, the very beginning of your book you say that this book will turn your humanity from hindrance to an asset, and that’s exactly what you’ve just said now and what our conversation has done we need to see that humanity as an asset and our students will thank us for it.  

Karen 1:01:09 


Lillian 1:01:10 

Well thank you so much Karen for being here and for taking your time to talk to me about trauma aware pedagogy and also creating simple and sustainable educational videos and all of the things that you’ve helped us understand about how they’re important and why they’re important. So thank you very much Karen.  

Karen 1:01:30 

Thank you for having me.  

Lillian 1:01:44 

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 UDL .org website. The Think UDL Podcast is made possible by College STAR, the STAR stands for Supporting Transitions 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 learn more, go to the College website. Additional support is provided by Appalachain State University, where if you call it Appalachian, I’ll throw an apple at ya! The music on the podcast was performed by The Oddysee Cortet, comprised of Rex Shepard, David Pate, Bill Follwell, and Jose Coches. 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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