Monday, November 9, 2009
Module 1 Universal Design
Image by Bill Browning
Recently, I realized that my training program for my student assistants here at the library was not catering to different learning styles and multiple intelligences. My wheels starting turning as to how I could reach students who are more visual learners, and thus, make their training experience here more positive and effective.
I have always believed in hands-on practice whenever possible and that is still my main way of teaching students to checkout (and in) books, DVDs, laptops among a zillion other things that they need to learn (assisting patrons with lamination, checking in/out books from other libraries, and navigating our library catalog). The list of duties is a long one and can be overwhelming for the poor, underpaid college students especially the incoming freshman. ;)
Of course, I immediately recognized that in my circumstance here that my training program needed a redesign so I am hoping that I am moving towards a universal one that any student can become a knowledgeable and helpful student assistant. Certainly, I haven't had a student with a serious disability, but I do see all people as being different with different preferences, learning styles, and problems. As an effective student manager, I am always trying to find what motivates my students and realize how different they all are (even though several have the same major!). Okay, so I am going off on a rant, but basically, I am in the process of creating video how-to tutorials and other tech tools with the help of one my student assistants to strengthen my training methods.
I did explore the website that listed famous people with their corresponding disability. In fact, all of the websites and thinking about the concept of universal design basically made think that we are all so much more alike than different. Most people learn best with hands-on activities that appeal to a variety of senses. I also looked at the Job Accomodation Network and The National Center for Learning Disabilities website, but thank goodness that teachers have special ed teachers who create IEPs because I sometimes realize that some students are having difficulties, but I haven't always been able to figure out how best to help or what the underlying issue is. The JAN site is great for employers whereas the NCLD site has great guidance for teachers.
As for how I would teach introduce Braille to a class...I would get 5 or 6 of those Braille label makers and have students work in groups to labels items around the classroom. It would probably only take a class period or two to make labels for the blind student. Besides random classroom items, some students could work on label a skeleton, a map, or other models. Students could also create models out of common objects that could be used by the blind student (and the ones who aren't blind!) to understand different learning objectives.
Here's the 7 Principles of Universal Design...
1. Equitable Use
2. Flexibility in Use
3. Simple and Intuitive Use
4. Perceptible Information
5. Tolerance for Error
6. Low Physical Effort
7. Size and Space for Approach and Use
This URL has some great tips...http://www.udeducation.org/teach/teaching_techniques/bowe.asp
Definitely something to think about!