Universal Design for Learning at the University of Vermont

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Videos Accelerate Community Learning. Can Higher Education “Sign-In” to this?

This TED talk intrigues thought to using shared videos to enhance and communicate learning in ways that print can not.  Video’s and the web are accelerating the ways in which we spread ideas and communicate.  Videos can be translated into any language. There are computer programs that automatically put videos into words.

Direct Link to Video :http://video.ted.com/talks/podcast/ChrisAnderson_2010G.mp4

ZACK’S Takes Away’s from Video.

Videos packs more data, and our brains are uniquely hardwired to decode it.

We (our planet) watches 80 Million Youtube hours/day

Rise of web video is leading to “Crowd Accelerated Innovation”

Business/Organizations are wasting Billions of dollars on Print

The crowd dictates desire through shared videos and in turn pushes innovation/learning forward.

Reflection/Discussion Prompt

The concepts that Chris Anderson speaks of makes me think of open learning communities where all information is shared for the better learning of the group.  One concern that I have heard voiced on the topic of  open source and education is that it is not credible and it has no way of being made official.  And to an extent I agree with this.  Information should  be a credited, especially in higher education.  However, this does not mean that higher education organizations should shudder at the thought of sharing intellectual property.  There is a huge amount of value in this structure.  Chris quickly addresses this topic in his video as he champions the use of video as a better medium for transferring information.  He states that organizations are wasting “billions” of dollars a year wasting there time with print.  A bit extreme but his point is clear that videos, especially when used in a cooperative manner, have the tremendous ability to push learning and “Crowd Based Innovation” forward in faster ways than academia and society has seen before.

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Trends in Disability Education

Learning-Disabled Enrollment

Dips After Long Climb

Students Served Chart

Percentage of Students Served (click enlarge)

After decades of what seemed to be an inexorable upward path, the number of students classified as learning-disabled declined from year to year over much of the past decade—a change in direction that is spurring debates among experts about the reasons why.

The percentage of 3- to 21-year-old students nationwide classified as having a “specific learning disability” dropped steadily from 6.1 percent in the 2000-01 school year to 5.2 percent in 2007-08, according to the most recent data available, which come from the U.S Department of Education’s 2009 Digest of Education Statistics. In numbers, that’s a drop from about 2.9 million to 2.6 million students.

Positive Trends (Article Excerpt) – About 80 percent of children who are classified as learning-disabled get the label because they’re struggling to read

To Read More Go to Edweek.org website.

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Teacher Innovation in the Face of Fear

picture of book image

“It was Jane who introduced us to the notion of “cat people.” Cat people are those of us who like our routines and generally stick to doing things the same way unless someone makes us, or convinces us, to do things differently.  There’s nothing wrong with being a cat person; in fact, most of use fall into this category, and most of our students do, too.  The problem is, tendencies, habits, and comfort zones can sometimes get in the way of productive teaching and learning.  Somewhere in our resistance to change lurks a fear.

Fear of failing is the elephant in the teachers’ classrooms – the question we secretly harbor but rarely utter aloud.  Fear of our students’ failure keeps us locked in the same practices that have become comfortable and familiar.  It’s also what keeps teachers in front of the classroom lecturing instead of turning learning over to the learners.  WE can speak of the student-centered classroom, but the worry that students lack the skills to pull it off can prevent teachers from taking those first steps toward productive group work. ” ( Pg 109. Frey, Fisher, Everlove. (2009) Productive Group Work: How to Engage Students, Build Teamwork, and Promote Understanding. ASCD)

In business, innovation and risk taking are the lifeblood of success.  In a constantly changing environment adaptation is key for the survival of a business. Without this, there would be no profit. Education, how ever always seems to take the blame for being the innovation laggard, stuck stagnant in the box of tradition.  I would like to challenge this assumption by challenging our educators to blend what they feel they must teach into the desires of their students.  The learners, these  so called “digital natives” are graduating into this ever changing, ever the more competitive work environment.  That is what they expect. There is no reason to NOT try new approaches to their education.  There is a reason to fear failure but, that is not reason enough to deprive today’s “learners” with a chance for an innovative and progressive educational experience.




Good Technology, Bad Study Skills for College Students

Computers, highlighters, notebooks, flashcards, ipads, pens and pencils are all used to help students study.  But how does someone study?  This article explores research done by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that finds that more college students are using their computers to study, but they are doing it mindlessly.  Furthermore, just because a majority of today’s college students have the tools to study, does not mean that they know HOW to study.

Universal Design for Learning places an emphasis on letting students gain access to more structure to help support and manage their learning experience. Tools such as webspiration.com can help students break down  information into meaningful chunks.


I feel that it’s important for educators to not take for granted that students may not be the best decision makers when it comes to studying.  A lot is going on in the worlds’ of young college students and keeping this research article in mind is important you look up and see a classroom  of eyebrows peering over the backs of laptop screens.

Article Link:
College Undergrads Study Ineffectively on Computers, Study Finds: Students Transfer Bad Study Habits from Paper to Screen

Tool Link:

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A Quick Introduction to Voice Recognition Software

Three easy to use applications for translating your spoken voice into text:

A chart of three voice recognition softwares

A chart of voice recognition software that assist people with writing by processing spoken voice and translating it into digital text.(speech to text)

Click on the image to get a clearer view.

Who is the user?

Doctors and lawyers are known to use voice recognition software to quickly ‘type out’ patient instructions and the like. Individuals with limited arm/hand functions; individuals with learning disabilities, such dyslexia, auditory comprehension/processing, written expression difficulties; individuals with ADD/ADHD all can benefit from speech to text applications.

Things to keep in mind about Voice Recognition software:
•    Voice recognition systems require consistent vocal control, pronunciation and diction.
•    Natural language functions will allow the user to issue verbal commands without memorizing awkward command syntax.
•    Natural language support may not be available on computer systems with unsupported hardware.
•    Voice files can be moved between computers, installed with compatible Dragon Naturally Speaking versions, for greater access to campus-wide resources.
•    Voice recognition systems require  continued correction.
•    Voice recognition systems are best suited for use by patient and motivated individuals willing to commit the time to properly correct misrecognition errors.

This information was taken from a  presentation  at an AHEAD conference.  For a full list of materials and more detailed information on the conference go the AHEAD conference website.

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1 Easy Way to Record Audio While Taking Notes. (UDL @UVM Product Highlight)

UDL @ UVM Product Highlight

Product: Livescribe PulsePen
Website: Livescribe.com
Cost: $159.00 – $190.00 (New $ Used)
Where to Buy: Amazon.com, BestBuy, Target, AppleStore, Staples

What does it do?: This pen allows you or students to record notes and drawings and simultaneously record the audio being lectured or spoken. These notes can then be placed in an audio file for portable use, they can be embedded into a website or a blog and at any point the audio can be referenced from when it was said at the location of recording by clickling on writting. In order to do this you need to use the LiveScribe Notebook Paper.

How it works: Watch this video


brought to you by Livescribe

For more uses and examples go to the Livescribe website.

UDL Benefits:
1.) Record lectures and replay if something was missed.
2.) Just record the audio and take notes later
3.) Share notes with other students.

1.) Post audio and written notes to the web
2.) Highlight important concepts and share to students
3.) Represents the same material in multiple ways: UDL Principle 1.

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