Equitable Means Accessible: Using Universal Design for Learning and Student Development Theory to Inform Online Pedagogy

Equitable Means Accessible: Using Universal Design for Learning and Student Development Theory to Inform Online Pedagogy

Kathryn R. Green, Steven Tolman
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7802-4.ch007
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The continued growth of online learning provides more educational opportunities to a diversity of people than ever before. In fact, Smith and Basham report that K-12 students with disabilities are opting for online learning environments at remarkably high rates, a trend unlikely to diminish as those students matriculate into postsecondary education. However, growth of educational practice is not always part and parcel of the growth of educational opportunity; too often, the latent shortcomings of traditional classrooms and teaching practices are heightened in non-traditional, virtual spaces. This chapter examines current models informing accessibility in education and explores the creative application of emerging pedagogical research and practices that support inclusive and accessible instruction across an increasingly diverse learner base.
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In 2018, it can be hard to imagine a time when terms like accommodations, accessibility, ADA compliance and so on weren’t part of the professional lexicon for educational practitioners at all levels; however, our relatively quick adjustment to such terms and the underlying policies as routine belies how truly recently American education (and society writ large) began to address and subsequently shift its view and treatment of individuals with disabilities and disabilities in teaching and learning spaces. Indeed, even modern social justice movements focusing on important diversity, equity, and inclusion work often neglect individuals with disabilities (particularly those with invisible disabilities) as valuable members of inclusive communities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Multimodal Content: Educational content and approaches that utilize diverse methods of sharing information, especially in relation to digital technologies (e.g., text, audio, and visual means of representation).

Learning Contracts: Recognizing that adults learn best when directly involved in their learning, Learning Contracts establish a mechanism for the adult learner to take ownership and responsibility for what and how they will learn. While these Learning Contracts can take many forms, they often include the opportunity for the adult learner to select the type of assignments they wish to do in the course; thus, they can choose the most meaningful learning activities for themselves.

Andragogy: The pedagogical approach focused on teaching adults by meeting their unique needs as learners.

Educational Technology: The study of the roles and applications of analog and digital technologies with respect to human learning and educational practices.

Student Development: The ways in which college students grow and develop personally, academically, professionally, and socially during their enrollment in higher education.

Educational psychology: The study of social and cognitive processes as they relate to the science of learning; the application of psychological theories and concepts (e.g., constructivism, behaviorism) to how and why learning occurs.

Accessibility: The concept used to describe the degree to which practices and environments are able to be understood and utilized by people of differing abilities.

Teaching Online: Using the internet and related technologies to create a digital classroom in which the instructor teaches students as they would in a face-to-face classroom. Students who learn online in this way are often referred to as “online learners,” “distance learners,” or “e-learners.”

UDL: Universal design for learning (UDL) is a framework informing accessible and flexible teaching and learning practices. Specifically, this framework is predicated on ensuring learners have multiple means through which to engage in the processes of learning.

Adult Learning: The process by which adults learn formally and informally. For the purposes of this chapter, adults are considered to be college aged students and older.

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