Making do with what we have: Using the built-in functions of a Learning Management System to implement UDL
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One of the great challenges in the increasingly rapid and systemic implementation of Universal Design for Leaning (UDL) in higher education is currently the perception instructors have that the demands on their time are already too great for them to be able to attempt a redesign of their content, teaching methods and evaluation formats (Jordan Anstead, 2016). Many of the implementation initiatives in North America and Europe focus on the social justice objectives of UDL and on the inclusive outcomes these can lead to. The post-secondary sector, however, is currently in a situation of such flux, under neoliberal pressures, that instructors feel justified in objecting to change even though they may not be rejecting these inclusive goals per se (Clark, Moran, Skolnik & Trick, 2009). It becomes essential therefore for UDL advocates to acknowledge this reality, and to perhaps shift the UDL discourse on campuses from the conceptual social justice agenda to a more pragmatic, and logistic, discussion around time and resources. This practice brief suggests that the best way to achieve this change is to focus on tools and strategies that align with UDL and are already part of instructors’ reality. It is argued that it will then be possible to establish a constructive dialogue around handson strategies that are sustainable while not appearing burdensome to teaching staff. One such tool is the Learning Management System (LMS) that most campuses in the Global North have already purchased and integrated into campus life and administrative structure, also known in the UK under the term ‘virtual learning environment (VLE)’. (Bradley, Jadeski, Newton, Ritchie, Merrett, Bettger, 2013). This article will seek to highlight features that are contained in most LMSs that align with UDL principles and that allow for a quick and fairly effortless UDL integration in class. The LMS discussed in this paper is Moodle, but it is argued that many of the features discussed are present generically within most LMSs currently encountered in higher education, such as Canvas and Blackboard Collaborate.
This article is openly available at https://ahead.ie/journal/Making-do-with-what-we-have-using-the-built-in-functions-of-a-Learning-Management-System-to-implement-UDL.
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