UDL is essential in post-secondary pandemic learning

The shock has passed, the sadness comes and goes, and the stretchy waistband pants are becoming a mainstay. Your college or university is staying online for the rest of this academic year, as well as summer, and you wonder about fall 2020.

While the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic persists, it may be time to settle into an educational environment that will be more online than previously imagined.

Warning: You will not get through the same amount of content during this pandemic. Please do not try.

Related content: 10 ways to stay connected when going remote

The most important learning that your students/learners will remember right now is how the authority figures and teachers in their lives dealt with this adversity. Lots of communication, as much empathy as you can handle, and establishing the expectation that every person is doing their best is what students will remember. So, instead of hoping for teaching and learning as “normal,” and when you are ready, try something new.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can offer a unique lens or path toward a semblance of normalcy in this abnormal time.

UDL comes from an educational framework first conceptualized in architecture with Universal Design – creating spaces that are accessible to all – and the challenges of special education, where learning and teaching based on the “average” student was not effective.

In this pandemic, nothing about schools or students is average. A framework that considers wide differences in human behavior and teaches to every student is critical now more than ever. UDL provides a framework to reach every student through online teaching by utilizing neuroscience for learning and following the 3 main principles of engagement, representation, and action and expression.

The first step for educators seeking to transition to an online and effectively teach all students is to start with the concept of engagement. There are a variety of ways people can begin teaching and learning online. But it is critical to start by addressing the sadness, anxiety, and destabilization that results from school closures and the loss of the in-person connections and community they create.


5 key components of successful online courses

Two months ago, nobody would have predicted that education at every level, from kindergarten through graduate programs, would either shut down or move to online courses.

Most teachers don’t have prior experience or professional development in teaching online courses effectively. While it might seem like a simple transition to post slides or a recorded lecture online, teachers need to be intentional with course design to effectively mirror what students experienced in the classroom and make the transition as smooth and successful as possible.

Related post: Adapting to online learning in a pinch (Part 2)

Synchronous over asynchronous

Online education is fairly synonymous with asynchronous learning. Most people assume the move to online courses means students are logging on to the learning management system to take reading quizzes tied to their assigned textbook chapters and posting in the discussion board in line with weekly modules as their schedules allow.


10 best practices for live virtual teaching

Switching from teaching in-person to teaching online presents both unique challenges and opportunities.

At Relay Graduate School of Education, we run an online campus alongside our in-person campuses and came up with 10 practical tips from our veteran online faculty to support those making the switch to the online environment for live instruction.

Related content: 3 ways to stay connected when going remote

1. Prepare links to your materials and share with your students in advance. This ensures students have what they need and can revisit resources later if needed. Also, this step can preempt any challenges that would otherwise come up during class.

2. Utilize a small group feature to get folks talking and engaging during class. As the facilitator, you can pop into different groups–just like walking around your classroom–to join in.


4 best practices around diversity and inclusion in higher education

The next generation of employees will be more diverse than ever before, and that’s a great thing for business. According to a McKinsey & Co. study, companies with greater ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have better financial returns than their peers, and companies with more gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to outperform their competitors.

Similarly, institutions of higher learning should consider the multicultural workforce of the future when planning for recruitment and programming; doing so will encourage a more creative learning environment, pushing the student body to experience different viewpoints and prepare for life after graduation—and increasing the values of their degrees.

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Education, student-body diversity in higher education is important not only for improving economic and educational opportunities for students of color, but also for the social, academic, and societal benefits it presents for all students and communities. Students report less discrimination and bias at institutions where they perceive a higher commitment to diversity. The report also found that higher education improves social mobility for minorities; on average, African Americans and Hispanics who completed four-year college degrees earn double compared to those who only earned a high school diploma.

Colleges and universities need to emphasize both diversity and inclusion. While “diversity” translates to minority representation, “inclusion” means striving for minority involvement post-enrollment by providing equal access to opportunities and encouraging representation across majors.

4 ways your institution can strengthen its commitment to diversity and inclusion

1. Be a strong advisor
Many minority students will need help planning for academic success. For example, in 2016 more than 57 percent of bachelor’s-degree recipients from California State University, Fullerton, were the first in their families to graduate. Lacking a family member who can show them how to successfully navigate college, students like these need strong guidance on course selection, study habits, and managing their finances. Enlisting well-versed counselors is a must, and advisory programs should continue past freshman year.


Do students feel prepared to learn online?

While most college students say they feel they have the tools they need to learn online, they remain anxious about their own skills in managing their learning in an off-campus environment, according to a new survey.

The findings come from Barnes & Noble Education, Inc., a solutions provider for the education industry. Conducted by Barnes & Noble College Insights the week of March 23, 2020, the survey looked at the perspectives of college students across the U.S. as they move from traditional classrooms to online courses as part of colleges’ and universities’ health and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Related content: Adapting to online learning in a pinch (Part 3)

The survey found students split on readiness, with more than half of students (60 percent) saying they are at least somewhat prepared for the switch to online classes, while the rest are less certain, saying they need time to adjust to the transition. Previous experience with online learning appears to be a key factor in preparedness – students who have taken an online class previously are more likely to feel prepared (70 percent vs. 30 percent).


5 reasons why students can’t pick a college major

College students, especially those in Generation Z, struggle to pick a college major, increasing the time and cost associated with obtaining a degree, according to a study from Ellucian.

Many incoming students are not confident in their career path and nearly two-thirds of students say they feel overwhelmed by the process of selecting a major. This leads students to change their majors without understanding the ramifications–they wind up taking unnecessary courses and delaying their expected graduation, sometimes by multiple semesters.

Related content: Here’s how students pick a college major

Students are looking for more support when choosing a major, selecting courses that work towards completion and transferring from a two-year to a four-year institution. While students most often turn to advisers for help, pathways approaches can simplify choices for students by providing structured, clear paths through college coursework and on to the start of their careers. Additionally, personalized technology tools can ensure that students have clarity into their individual goals and the requirements needed to achieve them.


Getting feedback quickly and easily

To help strengthen support to teachers, coaches, and school leaders in this time of need, Insight ADVANCE is providing its ADVANCEfeedback® video coaching tool, powered by the Vonage Video API, free of charge. As a custom-built solution, ADVANCEfeedback helps teachers, instructional coaches, and school and university leaders connect on a deeper level than off-the-shelf video conferencing tools, by using secure video for self-reflection, peer feedback, and instructional coaching. Powered by the Vonage Video API, it features both asynchronous video, and synchronous video via ADVANCElive, allowing for real-time meetings and trainings. ADVANCEfeedback helps districts, schools, and higher education institutions increase the frequency of coaching, save time and money, and drive educator growth all in one platform.

Insight ADVANCE has developed a suite of products that connects self-reflection, virtual instructional coaching and peer collaboration, and observation in one secure place to permanently impact how all educators involved in teacher growth are supported.


Free plagiarism checker

Unicheck realizes that more instructors and students will need to have instant access to the plagiarism checker.

To assist you in the fight against plagiarism Unicheck is offering to all institutions that have no active Unicheck licenses, they will gladly share free access to Unicheck till June 30.

Please contact us whichever way you find to be more convenient for you:


+1 281 912 0548 (US)

+1 888 231 5356 (US, a toll-free number)


4 ways schools can futureproof networks for an esports takeover

Esports is soaring in popularity in K–12 schools and in higher education as student gamers find a competitive and team-based outlet for their video gaming habits—playing not in isolation but among a community of fellow students.

Esports students aren’t traditional athletes, but they still practice after school, play different positions, wear jerseys during competitions, and compete for trophies and college scholarships. Coaches even suspend players whose GPAs dip below the required minimums.

Related content: What you need to start an esports program

Because esports are so popular, more than 1,200 schools now participate in the High School Esports League, a six-fold increase from 2018. Researchers say esports, or competitive video gaming, has become a US $1 billion global industry. Yet, even as the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting esports tournaments by forcing people to cancel or postpone events, and shift to virtual classes for the foreseeable future, online gaming helps kids stay connected in their new self-isolated way of life.


How 10 institutions are helping to fight the coronavirus

The novel coronavirus has caused a global health pandemic, shutting down physical campus operations at higher-ed institutions across the world.

But at the same time as instruction has moved online, colleges and universities are refocusing their efforts to fight COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Many institutions are serving as testing sites, are donating equipment to help healthcare professional, and are conducting research to try and help solve some of the challenges associated with slowing the spread of the virus. Great Value Colleges has compiled a list, updated regularly, of college and university efforts to help in any capacity.

Related content: Adapting to online learning in a pinch (Part 3)

Straight from that list are just 10 of many examples of how institutions are stepping up and using their available resources to help fight the coronavirus:

1. Florida Tech is currently manufacturing about a dozen medical face shields for healthcare workers per day, thanks to its supply of 3-D printers. The shields are being produced through the school’s engineering lab on the Melbourne campus as well as through its off-campus Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovative Design. The shields will be donated to healthcare workers and first responders in the area.

2. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is joining several other medical schools across the United States by allowing its graduating class to receive their credentials early. The move is in response to New York’s current shortage of healthcare professionals in the fight against the novel coronavirus. The school says it will continue to provide support service to graduates as they begin their careers amid the public health crisis.