Nugget #13: Celebrate Good Work

Take Time To Celebrate Good Work

There are only two more days of instruction this semester then on to finals to complete the spring semester. Hopefully you’ve found a way to work at least one of the UDL or Accessibility nuggets into your course this spring. Congratulations and well done!

Our team has been busy with applications, finalizing research publication papers, hosting a workshop, and all of the other work that comes with the end of a semester. So, to avoid adding one more item to your to-do list, we wanted to summarize our UDL Nugget topics from this last semester so you could jump into any of the topics as you wrap up this semester and begin to plan for the next. We thank you all for your support and interest thus far. We’re excited to get back into UDL topics with weekly nuggets next fall!

Onboarding Forms

At the end of January, we encouraged you to Use Onboarding Forms to Understand Your Students Needs We provided an example of a semester onboarding form that you can use to proactively gather information about your students, their needs, and preferences. The Dig Deeper section highlighted ways such a form could allow students to submit their Letter of Accommodation, but also ask about interests, their comfort level with subject material, and other data about workload, assignment timing, and grading methods. 


In February, we really focused upon accessibility tools and best practices. In Use an Accessibility Checker to Improve Course Accessibility, we suggested using available accessibility checkers, particularly the one built into the rich text editor of our learning management system (LMS), to make even small changes to improve navigation of educational content and effective learning for all students. We also shared a variety of other accessibility resources for our campus LMS. In our dig deeper section, we suggested you encourage students to utilize the accessibility checker for their discussion board posts to take an active responsibility for accessibility in their learning community.

We discussed alternatives to color for information design in Use More Than Color to Highlight or Differentiate Pieces of Information. We recommended best practices to use text treatments, lines, patterns, and icons to reinforce importance rather than the use of color to solely communicate information. We introduced the idea of alternative text and descriptive text for graphs, images, and digital dashboards in the Dig Deeper section. And we introduced a few tools for testing color contrast when color is used. We also suggested tools for student use to control color contrast and suggested encouraging student use of color checkers for their own content creation.

In Know and Share About Assistive Technology for Students and Faculty, we defined accessibility tools and gave examples. In the Dig Deeper section we urged you to encourage students to use our school’s Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) accessibility tool resources, we suggested you do your own exploration of these tools. We provided a contact at DRES for further questions about specific tools, we linked to their ‘Try It Out’ webpage and included a link to policy pages.

UDL Foundations

In March we introduced the three pillars of UDL in Learn About the Foundations of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and included a brief history and four fun facts. In the Dig Deeper section we presented about the theory, best practices, and tools of UDL. We included a plethora of links: 20 Accessibility Tips, lecture-related software, UDL Guide from Yale, Interactive Module on UDL from Vanderbilt University, Cornell UDL resources, links to the latest research, an encouragement to hear from practitioners and join available UDL communities (CITL, UDL Team, UDL Podcast, Canvas Commons).

Course Organization

After spring break, we focused on some best practices around course organization and tools. We started with Course Organization – Syllabus and focused on how organizing your course with an effective syllabus can elevate your students’ understanding of the semester and course content. We covered topics of syllabus formatting, the use of inline topic links, and the use of multiple pages if hosting the syllabus in an LMS. We included fun facts about syllabus use and history. The Dig Deeper section highlighted the available supports for our school: DRES resources and guidelines and the student counseling center. We also included research information about syllabi and examples.

Next we tackled the Use of a Course Calendar and Scheduler. We provided a short discussion of what information should be included on a course calendar: due dates, deadlines, and progress in course content. We encouraged the use of the LMS built in calendar, explicit about deadlines and important dates, calendar feed to export to google calendar to provide students an alternative way to manage courses, be sure to include course staff office hours, fun facts, research on calendar tools, links to canvas and google calendar guides

Then we wrapped up course organization with Tools, Built-In Features, and Share Resources to Keep Your Students Informed and Engaged. We highlighted methods and tool types that enhance learning, provide multiple pathways to knowledge, and gave a long list of available tools available to both instructors and students. Tools included online discussion forums, remote meetings, multiple ways of engagement, video platforms, assessment tools, roster management tools, appointment tools, and survey tools. The Dig Deeper section provided a non-exhaustive list of links to examples of each type of tool and links to relevant support documentation.

Thank you for all of your feedback and support this school year! We’ll return next fall with more UDL Principles and tips for applying them to your instruction practices.

-UDL and Accessibility Group