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Applying the Principles of UDI to Online and Blended Courses

Applying the Principles of UDI to Online and Blended Courses

23 July, 2016

Principles of UDI

Cognitive Access Domain: These Principles support diverse learners in acquiring, comprehending, recalling, applying, evaluating, integrating, and expressing course content in online and technology-blended courses.

  1. Equitable Use
  2. Flexibility in Use
  3. Simple and Intuitive
  4. Perceptible Information
  5. Tolerance for Error

Physical Access within UDI Online refers to methods and elements that support the ease of navigation of course web sites, clarity in the display of course content, and the creation and presentation of course information in several formats to give opportunities for diverse learners to acquire and manipulate course content within a digital learning environment. The following Principles of UDI© were deemed to most directly align with the Physical Access Domain. These Principles support diverse learners in acquiring and manipulating course content in online and technology-blended courses.
6. Low Physical Effort
7. Size and Space for Approach and Use
Communication Access within the UDI Online project refers to approaches and elements that provide multiple chances for interaction and dialogue to engage diverse learners within a digital learning environment. The following Principles of UDI© were deemed to most directly align with the Communication Access Domain. These Principles help diverse learners with interacting and engaging peers and faculty in online and technology blended courses.
8. A Community of Learners
9. Instructional Climate
The UDI Online project web site, www.udi.uconn.edu presents recommendations from faculty and students regarding online and blended learning environments, and additional examples of applying the access domains in digital learning environments.

Application of UDI

Equitable use: Giving students with numerous options to show mastery of the subject (web design, oral presentations, research papers); using alternate sources to explain complex concepts.
Flexibility in use: Utilizing various instructional methods (mind/concept maps, group activities, outlines) to provide diverse ways of learning and experiencing knowledge.

Simple and intuitive: Providing grading rules that clearly lay out expectations for exam performance, papers, or projects; including a syllabus with links to reading materials; adding animated icons to the course website that pop up to remind students of deadlines.

Perceptible information: Choosing reading material and other instructional supports, including websites that are accessible via screen readers, text formatting, zoom text.

Tolerance for error: Taking logs of threaded discussions for students to reference over the course of the semester; providing the option of turning in multiple drafts of an assignment in order for the student to demonstrate his/her learning progress; provisioning of “practice” exercises or tests.

Low physical effort: Fostering maximum focus to learning by being aware of screen structure and layout of website features (breaking down a construct into multiple pages with headings).

Size and space for approach and use: Being conscious of diverse communication needs in deciding to incorporate examples and graphics (moderately combine visuals with text).

A community of learners: Fostering communication among students in and out of class by arranging study groups, discussion groups, project groups, chat rooms; making a personal connection with students through video or phone (Skype, Adobe Connect).

Instructional climate: Adding a statement in the class syllabus affirming the need for class members to respect diversity in order to establish the expectation of tolerance as well as inspire students to discuss any special learning needs; highlighting diverse thinkers who have made significant contributions to the field; providing direct feedback on and share innovative approaches developed by students in the class.

As the result of interviews and surveys with both faculty and students, and an extensive literature review, the UDI Online project team identified several factors that can enhance access to course content for diverse learners. These include explicit expectations, topics that are included in a logical sequence, assignment directions that are straightforward, assessments that are directly linked to course objectives, opportunities for communication and networking, delivering information in multiple formats, that is displayed clearly, and easily navigated. In turn, these factors lead to the development of three “Access Domains”: Cognitive Access, Communication Access, and Physical Access. The definition for each domain, as well as the corresponding UDI Principles is as follows:

Cognitive Access refers to approaches and elements that assist diverse learners to acquire, comprehend, recall, apply, evaluate integrate, and express information within a digital learning environment.