Think UDL Podcast

We've teamed up with Think UDL to bring you podcast episodes centred around designing and implementing strategies in post-secondary settings, with learner variability in mind.

Episode 119: Contextual Pathways with Lee Dale

Lee Dale is the founder and CEO of Say Yeah!, an educational tech company based in Toronto, Canada. Lee saw the accessibility gaps in online education and decided to do something about it, he created his company Say Yeah! to help unlock the potential in everyone. In this conversation, we discuss instructional design, using technology thoughtfully, and creating contextual pathways in online learning. If you have wondered how complicated teaching itself is, we discuss the various roles that are needed for online learning to be successful which include the subject matter expert, the educator, and the role of technology in online learning.

Episode 118: Badges, Modules and Praxis with Thomas O’Shaughnessy

Thomas O’Shaughnessy is an Assistive Technology Officer and UDL Project lead at the University of Limerick in Ireland. In this episode, Thomas outlines how UDL has bloomed at the University of Limerick with a national UDL badge, faculty and staff training, and large-scale awareness and implementation of UDL. Thomas has been championing the implementation of UDL and creating more accessible and inclusive educational spaces for all and shares his great work with us today.

Episode 117: Accessible Library and Information Science with Rachel Combs

Rachel Combs is a Disabilities Accommodations Consultant and Professor in the School of Information Science at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. In this conversation, Rachel and I discuss her work with Project ENABLE which stands for Expanding Non-discriminatory Access By Librarians Everywhere and which seeks to raise librarians’ understanding of the library and information needs of disabled students and develop programs, services, resources, and technologies to meet those needs. We also discuss what she is doing at the University of Kentucky to reach all students and patrons and decrease barriers to access for all. You’ll find resources associated with this conversation on the ThinkUDL.org website and thank you for listening to this conversation on the Think UDL podcast.

Episode 116: The UDL Gears with Loui Lord Nelson

Loui Lord Nelson is an author, leader, consultant, and educator in  Universal Design for Learning in a global context. She is also my esteemed friend and colleague as well as the host of two podcasts on UDL, UDL in 15 minutes and UDL Research in 15 minutes, both of which cover a multitude of subjects focussing on UDL around the world mostly but not entirely focussed on K-12 . Together we cover a lot of UDL ground and I am so happy to have her on the Think UDL podcast today! In this episode we discuss a fabulous new resource Loui has created to help all of us understand and implement Universal Design for Learning a little better called the UDL gears. Through this tool, Loui has created an accessible visual representation of the mindsets, skills, and practices of UDL practitioners. And in this conversation we discuss how these three things are related and how we can dig a little deeper into them together. You’ll find a link to the UDL gears and some supporting materials on the resources page for this episode on the ThinkUDL.org website.

Episode 115: UDL at Scale with Tom Tobin.

Thomas J. Tobin is a founding member of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Teaching, Learning and Mentoring as well as an author, speaker, and consultant on UDL, evaluating online teaching, copyright, academic integrity, and alt-ac careers (non-traditional and non-faculty career paths). Not only that, Tom is my long standing UDL friend whom I have already once interviewed in episode 3 of the Think UDL podcast. And he is back on the show again to move us far forward from that conversation way back in 2018. In fact, this conversation is about how to systematically implement UDL at scale. Tom has been doing a lot of research and work on how universities and systems can be successful in implementing UDL at large, not just in classrooms or in departments, and he has some sage advice and actual real evidence of what has already worked, and what we all might be able to do to accomplish this goal. It is an incredibly helpful and enlightening conversation based on so many conversations that Tom has had with UDL practitioners around the world! And let me also say now, too, that Tom says by the end of this episode that he wants to hear from you and your strategies and successes in implementing UDL at scale. So please look over the resources for this episode and reach out to Tom, too!

Episode 114: HEQCO’s Key Recommendations with Rachel Courts and Ken Chatoor

Rachel Courts is a Researcher at HEQCO, the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario and Ken Chatoor is a Senior Researcher at HEQCO as well. Together with their co-authors Jackie Pichette, Ofure Okujie and Ryan Tischoff, they have extensively researched UDL in Higher Education in Ontario and written a fantastic and extremely helpful work for any UDL practitioner entitled, HEQCO’s Dialogues on Universal Design for Learning: Finding Common Ground and Key Recommendations from the Sector. In this episode, Rachel and Ken outline how they and their colleagues assembled the ideas for this practical work. We discuss the thoughtful ways that the authors and collaborators researched and collected stories and information from their colleagues about the use and implementation of UDL in Ontario’s higher education institutions including their challenges, opportunities and successes. And from this they have produced recommended strategies for others to implement and institutionalize UDL in their universities. You can view HEQCO’s full report in the resources section on the Think UDL web page for this episode along with the other resources that we mention throughout the episode. Thank you for tuning in to hear how you can implement UDL successfully in your institution with the help of my guests Rachel Courts and Ken Chatoor.

Episode 113: Equity Frameworks in a UDL Course in Context with Joanna Friend.

Joana Friend is a Professor in the School of Early Childhood and Faculty Facilitator in the Teaching and Learning Exchange at George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Over the last several years, she and her colleagues have put together a fantastic course on Universal Design for Learning that is couched within their own context and within larger equity frameworks. In today’s episode, we discuss the context surrounding the impetus and creation of the course as well as what has been learned through various iterations of the course in the last several years. If you are interested in creating a course for your college or university, you will be enriched by this discussion which provides a step by step process including questions to ask, ways to facilitate the learning experience, stakeholders to consult, and general advice on how to attempt something in your particular area. Everything is context specific, so we will delve into George Brown College in particular, but this discussion is helpful to replicate in any context. You’ll find several resources about this course, Universal Design for Learning: Inspiring Equity and Inclusion in Higher Education, on our web page for this episode.

Episode 112: Simplified, Authentic and Engaging Library Science with Amanda Nichols Hess

Amanda Nichols Hess is an Associate Professor and Coordinator of Instruction and Research Help, as well as the Liaison Librarian to the School of Education and Human Services at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. She has researched, written about and created many resources for library science that focus on UDL. In today’s conversation, we will look at the role of the librarian on campus and how she has incorporated UDL into many different areas, from small projects to campus-wide initiatives. Even if you are not in library science, you’ll benefit as an instructor to hear how collaboration with librarians on your campus can bring benefits to both you and your students. Amanda has supplied her work as resources and you can find them on our website ThinkUDL.org for this episode.

Episode 111: Digital Ethics in ePortfolios with Kristina Hoeppner and Kevin Kelly.

Kristina Hoeppner, M.A., is the project lead for the open source portfolio platformMahara, working atCatalyst ITin Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington in Aotearoa New Zealand. She traded hemispheres and careers in 2010 and enjoys supporting and working with the New Zealand and worldwide community of educators, learning designers, and education innovators in both formal and informal learning settings to create positive and supportive learning environments. Since 2019, she has been a member of the (Association for Authentic, Experiential, & Evidence-Based Learning)AAEEBL Task Force on Digital Ethics in ePortfoliosand, since 2021, a member of the Executive Committee ofFLANZ(Flexible Learning Association New Zealand). In September 2022, Kristina started the podcast ’Create. Share. Engage.’ in which she interviews members of the portfolio community to share their stories in a contemporary medium, making these stories accessible beyond academic articles and conference presentations.

Kevin Kelly, EdD, works with colleges and universities as a consultant to address distance education, educational technology, and organizational challenges. He also teaches online courses in the Department of Equity, Leadership Studies, and Instructional Technologies at San Francisco State University, where he also previously served as the Online Teaching and Learning Manager. Kevin is a member of the AAEEBL Board of Directors and the AAEEBL Task Force on Digital Ethics in ePortfolios. He co-authored with Todd Zakrajsek the 2021 Stylus book,Advancing Online Teaching: Creating Equity-Based Digital Learning Environmentswhich is featured in episode 55 of the Think UDL podcast. In today’s podcast my guests explain the ethics of ePortfolios and how they are aligned with UDL principles. It turns out, there is a lot of overlap between the two! Kevin, Kristina, and their colleagues on the task force have done all of the heavy lifting so that you don’t have to, and you’ll find links to the digital ethics for ePortfolios on the Think UDL web page for this episode.

Episode 110: Teaching STEM Students with Dawn Tamarkin

Dr. Dawn Tamarkin is a Biology Professor and Chairperson in the Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at National University which has multiple campuses with its main campus in San Diego, California. Almost half of the enrolled students at National University are in the military and many are first generation college students with an average age of 33 years, and most students attend National University online. Dawn is also the founder and CEO of CellZone, Inc., a company that makes models and other manipulatives for science instructors to help students better understand and connect with learning complex science concepts. We will discuss how Dawn accidentally became a business owner through her own UDL teaching journey. In today’s conversation, Dawn will explain her theories about how STEM students learn a bit differently from, let’s say humanities students, because of the course material, how she started making models because of a particular need in her class, how using hand-held manipulatives has changed her teaching, and what shifts we need to make in our own teaching to help our students thrive. She also provides several free resources that she created with a National Science Foundation grant that outlines how to teach STEM courses using UDL. You’ll be able to find those resources on the ThinkUDL.org website.

Episode 109: Implementing a UDL Practicum for Faculty with Jim Stachowiak

Jim Stachowiak is the Accessible Technology Strategy and Operations Lead in the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Jim brings a depth of knowledge in disability services and information technology to the creation of a very successful UDL practicum at Northwestern University that has brought really fantastic results. In today’s episode, we discuss how this came about, who all is involved, how to implement it, and how others can replicate a UDL Institute successfully on their campuses. And what is really exciting is that Northwestern has made this UDL Practicum free and available for anyone else to use! You will find a link to this UDL Practicum on episode 109’s resources at ThinkUDL.org. Thank you for joining us to learn how to spread the good word about UDL on your campus! 

Episode 108: Engaging Cultural Teaching with Tolu Noah

Dr. Tolu Noah is a faculty developer, speaker, educational technology specialist, and the Instructional Learning Spaces Coordinator at California State University, Long Beach. She is an incredibly engaging speaker and conversationalist as you will hear today, and has created a list of resources that accompany this episode that you can find on our website ThinkUDL.org. In today’s episode, we discuss how to engage students in face-to-face and online courses before during and after synchronous class times, the use of various reflection strategies, and how to model vulnerability and build trust and rapport in the classroom when talking about difficult subjects. Indeed this episode is chock full of so many ideas, you may want to refer to the episode resources often!

Episode 107: Interventions in Film & Media Studies with Bridget Kies

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

Episode 106: Systematic UDL Application in Disability and Diversity Programs with Zebadiah Hall

Zebadiah Hall is the Vice President in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming. Previously, he worked in Cornell University’s Office of Disability Services and his graduate work has focussed on Universal Design for Learning and how to apply the UDL principles systematically. He brings a wealth of knowledge in UDL, Disability Services and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to our conversation. We discuss how UDL can be applied systemically to the practices of a university, including the intake of students for disability accommodations, how to organize a disability office using UDL, how intersectionality affects DEI work, how to approach difficult topics equitably, avoid cancel culture, and practice free speech in all its forms.

Episode 105: Collaborative Neurodiversity Institute with Sarah Mooney

Sarah Mooney is the Associate Director of the Learning Effectiveness Program at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. The Learning Effectiveness Program is an academic support program for students with learning disabilities that supports learning and neurodiversity at the University of Denver. Since 1982, the LEP has developed innovative and comprehensive supports for their students and serves over 350 students each year. Together with the Office of Teaching and Learning and representatives from across campus including Disability Services and Faculty Affairs, they have put together a very successful Neurodiversity Institute for the faculty that is growing and improving the teaching and learning landscape as well as student success broadly at University of Denver. In this conversation we learn all about the Neurodiversity Institute and discuss the impetus for such an institute for faculty, the collaboration across campus that has made it a success, and the long-standing student-focussed support program for neurodiverse students from which it came. We also hear advice and encouragement from Sarah for implementing something similar at your institution.

Episode 104: More Fluid Mobile Learning with Christina Moore

Chrisitina Moore is the Associate Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Christina has been on the podcast once before to talk about Online Faculty Learning Communities on Episode 38, and she is back on the podcast to talk with me about her book Mobile-Mindful Teaching and Learning: Harnessing the Technology That Students Use Most. In today’s episode, we discuss how learners interface with materials, instructors, and each other through mobile devices, define characteristics of fluid learning and talk about learning ecologies and how they are all important steps to understanding mobile-mindful teaching and learning. We talk about creating ecosystems for learning and how to encourage social learning through well-designed learning environments. Christina is full of ideas to take away barriers for students by using the technology they have right at their fingertips.

Episode 103: Active Learning Online with Joanne Ricevuto and Laura McLaughlin.

Joanne Ricevuto is the Assistant Vice President of Instructional Success at Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and Laura McLaughlin is the Director of Graduate Education at Neumann University in Aston, PA. Together they have co-authored the bookEngaging Virtual Environments: Creative Ideas and Online Tools to Promote Student Interaction, Participation, and Active Learningpublished by Stylus Publishing. Laura and Joanne have put together a jam-packed resource for online instructors that discusses the many roles an online instructor must take on to lead an effective course. They also offer multiple ways to interact with students in synchronous and asynchronous settings. I have already enjoyed this book so much and I was honored to be asked to write the foreword for it. Join today’s thoughtful conversation and learn about multiple ways to engage your students online!

Episode 102: Upskill, Reskill, Thrive with James McKenna

James McKenna is a speaker, learning consultant and author of the just released bookUpskill, Reskill, Thrive: Optimizing Learning and Development in the Workplacepublished by CAST professional publishing, the very same people who brought us the UDL guidelines! In this conversation, James draws from his varied background in the military, education, and professional learning to outline a new approach to learning and development. No more staff training where everyone blindly clicks through choices without even thinking! We delve into learning in the modern world, and who our contemporary learners are. He explains how to create emotional, intellectual, and strategic connections for your learners and why it is important and even discusses the difference between friction and rigor.

Episode 101: Build Engaging Courses Right from the Start with Tim Van Norman

Tim Van Norman is an Instructional Technologist at Irvine Valley College in Irvine, California, which is part of the California Community Colleges system. He also hosts his very own podcast called The Higher Ed Tech podcast. Today, he will be discussing his personal views on instructional design and educational technology which are not associated with or speak for Irvine Valley College. In today’s episode, we talk about not just how students learn but where they learn, how we should think about deadlines, especially in relationship to one’s Learning Management system, where the work should be put in to improve a course (will it be early or later and how much), and what are his suggestions for engaging educational technology for online and in-person learning.

Episode 100: UDL Critiques with Eric Moore

Eric Moore is the Director of Learning Technology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD. He is also the founder and owner of Innospire Education Consulting through which he consults with organizations on UDL, instructional design, and accessibility. Eric also was my very first guest on the Think UDL podcast back in 2018. And as this, the 100th episode was approaching, I asked him if he wouldn’t mind talking with me again about the state of UDL and how it has progressed and changed in higher education since our first conversation. And since we have been working on an article with some esteemed colleagues on various critiques of UDL, we thought it would be a needed conversation for the public to hear. So in this episode, we will discuss the various critiques we have heard as UDL practitioners in higher education over the last 5 years and offer some answers along with some further discussion in a way that seeks to further strengthen UDL in higher education and beyond.

Episode 99: Can Tech Help Create Belonging? with Rachel Kruzel

After over ten years working as an Assistive Technology and Accommodations Specialist in Disability Resource Offices at various higher ed institutions, Rachel Kruzel is now the Higher Education Specialist at TextHelp where she supports colleges and universities to implement accessibility based solutions to help create more inclusive, equitable, and accessible learning environments for all students. During her time in higher ed, she built and developed assistive technology programs at both schools she worked at, as well as coordinated the provision of accommodations. Rachel is a national expert in the areas of assistive technology, digital accessibility, accessible course materials, and accommodation provision around testing and notetaking. In this episode, we discuss how technology helps, hinders, and relates to access, inclusion and belonging. We discuss a culture of collaboration on campus and how technology can be a catalyst for change on a campus that values diversity, accessibility, and inclusion.

Episode 98: Multiple Means of Music Education with Reba Wissner

Reba Wissner is an Assistant Professor of Musicology in the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia. Reba recently presented at a musicology conference about her UDL interventions in her college music courses and I had heard of what she is doing through another professional organization, so I was very excited to connect with her on this topic. In today’s conversation, Reba and I discuss not only the “what” of multiple means of representation when it comes to music education courses, but also why we need to do this right now, and how to do this. And don’t worry if you aren’t in the music department, we also talk about the ideas surrounding this and offer some great ideas if you are interested in diversifying your course! The resources we mention can be found on the ThinkUDL.org website for episode 98.

Episode 97: Community is the Key to Accessibility with Mark Nichols

Mark Nichols is the Senior Director of Universal Design and Accessible Technologies at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. Mark’s team has had great success in implementing accessible learning materials campus-wide with the help of many offices and fellow advocates on campus. In today’s conversation, we will talk about how to create a culture of accessibility, how he has been able to improve and think systematically about accessible materials at his university, and the various tools, ideas, and programs Virginia Tech is employing to help students achieve their goals and succeed in their academic pursuits. Mark mentions Virginia Tech’s C. A. L. M.  campaign which stands for Choose Accessible Learning Materials in which his team introduces a new accessibility idea periodically on campus with the slogan, “Keep C. A. L. M. and use accessible slides…” (or PDFs or some other tool). He would be happy to share the templates they used if anyone would like to borrow this campaign or learn more. Just reach out to Mark via email which is linked on our resources page for this episode at ThinkUDL.org.

Episode 96: Neurodivergent Workforce Win-Win with Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller is the founder and CEO of Potentia, an organization that not only matches neurodivergent talent with companies, but also works with companies to make sure that the work environments are optimal for their neurodiverse employees, which means neurotypical and neurodistinct employees feel supported and comfortable in their workplace. In this conversation, we talk about why recruiting neurodistinct individuals is a good idea for both employee and employer, how to create an interview and onboarding process that lessens the barriers to hiring ND (neurodistinct) talent, what measures a company can take to create a favorable environment for all workers, including the neurodistinct ones, and how to support these processes. Along the way we talk about why he created this company and why it makes sense! In fact, there is a lot of talk about our “why”s in today’s conversation and it maps so seamlessly onto why UDL is so important in higher education and how the same principles are implemented in the workforce and benefit both workers and employers. We talk about why it is important to focus on your goal and how to do that, and Jeff outlines how Potentia enables companies to hire and retain fantastic candidates by creating an environment where all workers can thrive.

Episode 95: Math, Finance, Economics and Employment Skills with Subhadra Ganguli

Dr. Subhadra Ganguli is an instructor in the Department of Economics, Ziegler College of Business, at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. She has had extensive experience teaching very practical workplace skills in finance and accounting globally and is now sharing her expertise in the United States. In this episode, we discuss how Subhadra has been implementing very engaging, collaborative learning in her classes. We also talk more about why math isn’t just an individual skill or subject. Additionally, we discuss the skills that economics, math and finance students will need once they graduate, and how Subhadra is building those skills in her classes for her students using the UDL principles.

Episode 94 of the Think UDL podcast: Kintsugi, Kelp and Art Therapy with Michele Rattigan and Denise Wolf.

Michele Rattigan and Denise Wolf are both Associate Clinical Professors of Art Therapy and Counseling in the Department of Creative Arts Therapies, College of Nursing and Health Professions, at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In this episode, Michele, Denise and I talk about the myth of perfectionism, teaching interventions to reach a variety of students (with an equally vast set of skills), what to do if you want to include art and creative expression in your classes as to expand your multiple means of expression options but aren’t an artist or an art therapist, how to face skill deficits with a lens of growth and renewal, and we even make a foray into questioning the system of making an art therapist.

Episode 93: UDL and Intersectionality with Denia Bradshaw

This episode centers on the emergence and history of both Universal Design for Learning and the concept of Intersectionality. We will define these terms and discuss similarities and connections between the two, taking particular aim at what has been overlooked and what to do now. We will discuss why using both of these lenses matters in higher education today.

Episode 92: Disability Cultural Centers with Carrie Ingersoll-Wood

Carrie Ingersoll-Wood is the Director of the Disability Cultural Center at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. In this conversation, Carrie and I talk about what in fact a Disability Cultural Center is, and what it is not. It is not your university’s Office of Disability Services. It is very different. We also discuss a little about the history of Disability Cultural Centers, why they are important, what they do, how UDL figures into them, and why we need them in Higher Education now.