12 techniques of the holidays

Day 11: Rhonda Dubec's Curating Inclusive Content

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Name: Dr. Rhonda Dubec

Area/Discipline: Languages/Teaching Commons

The Technique

One key principle of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is to provide multiple means of representation for students, i.e., to provide content in more varied, multimedia-informed, and interactive ways.

When teaching how climate change contributed to the fall of Rome (in my Latin class), for example, I invite the students to consider current theses concerning the role of orbital mechanics, solar cycles, volcanic eruptions, and the resulting climate instability up to and including the Late Antique Little Ice Age in (a) undermining the stability of the empire’s food supply and supply chains; (b) provoking the movement of peoples that eventually led to the “invasion” of Roman territory by Visiogths, Vandals, Ostrogoths, and others; and (c) weakening the stability of the governing order. To do this, I ask myself,

“How many different ways can I make this information available to my students?”

I provide the necessary class content (teaching materials, activity resources, etc.) in multiple ways that could appeal to all students and that also assists students with sensory disabilities, reading or language challenges, and/or different preferences for learning.

This technique (multi-modal representation of content) also addresses several UDL checkpoints from the CAST’s UDL Guidelines:

  • It offers ways of customizing the display of information (Checkpoint 1.1).
  • It offers alternatives for auditory information (Checkpoint 1.2).
  • It offers alternatives for video information (Checkpoint 1.3).
  • It clarifies vocabulary and symbols [through hyperlinks] (Checkpoint 2.1).
  • It illustrates the content through multiple media (Checkpoint 2.5).
  • It guides information processing and visualization (Checkpoint 3.3).
  • It maximizes transfer and generalization (Checkpoint 3.4).

How I use It

To construct a lesson using this technique, I first curate existing content from online sources and then selectively modify alterable materials with annotations, embedded questions, etc. Where knowledge gaps remain and to reinforce all learning, I use open educational resources (OERs) and/or create the remaining content needed as hyperlinked texts, interactive online study games, etc. This variety of content/media delivery engages students and helps individuals access the material in ways that work best for them.

For example, in the Climate Change and the Fall of Rome lesson, I provide learners with access to each of the elements listed below. I also suggest this order as a pathway for students to work through the lesson, though they are always free to engage the content in whichever order they prefer (autonomy is important is deep learning):

  • Reading: Hyperlinked classical texts and/or academic articles are embedded in D2L. I select and hyperlink any terms, concepts, or references that might be challenging for students, giving them easy access to definitions, supplemental context, etc.
  • Listening: Read-a-longs or audio texts using Librivox are embedded in D2L or linked so they can be accessed using Voice Dream Reader. With these, I often include guided reading questions to focus students’ listening attention. These audio tools also help students learn to pronounce challenging names and terms.
  • Interacting: Interactive maps and timelines with zooming in/out and spoken word voiceover assist students with low/limited vision, but they are useful learning tools for everyone as well.*
  • Viewing: Captioned/transcripted videos with interactive components as well as guiding questions and informational popups embedded on the video timeline (using H5P) highlight essential terms and concepts, provide additional information to extend the context of the lesson, and assess students’ comprehension.
  • Playing: Online or in-D2L games reinforce student knowledge through interactive play. Using Studystack as my main D2L embedded game tool, I invite learners to review terms and definitions, words and glosses, or any other binary information in a low-stress, not-for-marks activity that permits unlimited, randomized re-plays to master the content.
  • Co-creating: Tools like Padlet or templates with guiding questions or partially filled concept maps are embedded in D2L to connect and extend concepts, revisit linkages between ideas and events, etc. I then ask the students to expand upon what is initially provided by adding their own relevant links, images, videos, audiofiles, reflections, etc. to the Padlet or graphic organizer to co-create a final, detailed, multimedia review page for the module, representing a wide variety of perspectives and individualized takeaways from the lesson.

* These can be created in D2L using H5P and then embedded or linked to as the resource allows. Interaction can be further enhanced with the use of hotspots and popups.

Feedback from Learners

“I really liked all the videos that went along with the topic we were learning. It helped a lot.”

“It was a fascinating course with materials I thoroughly enjoyed …The different forms of media utilized, such as cartoons and videos enhanced the content … So many different methods of learning were provided to us (videos, audiobooks, reading).”

“Love how Dr.Dubec puts comics at the end of weekly modules. Makes the content a little more fun, especially with the seriousness of some stories that are given.”

Supporting goal 4

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Goal 4 of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals is “Quality Education”: within this framework, two specific aims of the Global Education Coalition are to “mobiliz[e] resources and implemen[t] innovative and context-appropriate solutions to provide education remotely, leveraging hi-tech, low-tech and no-tech approaches” and “seek equitable solutions and universal access.” Universal Design for Learning (UDL) strategies and online multimedia resources are two set of tools with which to address these concerns.

A short task to challenge you!

Visit the CAST’s UDL Guidelines, and choose “Provide multiple means of Representation.” Click on one of the bulleted Checkpoints that interests you, and read through the suggestions and explanations listed under it.

Is there one suggested strategy that could be incorporated into one of your lessons? How can you use that UDL suggestion to expand the methods of representation in your course?

Press theplus button button to share.

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One Final Task

Is this something you can use in your classroom? How might you utilize it? If you share your results somewhere on social media, please let us know by using the hashtag #12tech21LUDay11.

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12 Techniques of the Holidays 2021 by Teaching Commons@LU is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.