Using Google Suite for the Universal Design of Learning

Design for gardining Website interface displays tools and supplies as icons
This Google Drawing was created for a doctoral mini project on an interface design task for developing a gardening website with one of my peers in an online course. This was created prior to my understanding of accessibility issues. Notice that not all icons are labeled. This would not be accessible to all. Additionally, alternative text would need to be embedded with each image.

Google Suite,  along with the Chrome browser’s Omnibox and useful extensions, can be used to enhance the teaching of all learners with universal instructional design principles. Google Suite is the new name for these features: Google Apps (Docs, Forms, Sheets, Slides), Classroom, and Drive. This blog focuses on the use of technology to augment instruction through differentiation via scaffolding, formative assessments, and student collaboration. Google professional development opportunities and teacher resources are also addressed.

There are several efforts to design education with universal design in mind. Palmer and Caputo (2003) proposed seven principles for universal instructional design (UID): accessibility, consistency, explicitness, flexibility, accommodating learning spaces, minimization of effort, and supportive learning environments. The UID model recognizes those needs for course design. Its main premise is equal access to education and extends this to all types of learners and not just those with disabilities. For example, all learners can benefit from multi-modal lessons. Palmer and Caputo’s principles should be kept in mind as you develop differentiated instructional learning scenarios with Google Suite. See my blog post to learn more about universal design.

My College is a Google Apps for Education campus, which means we have unlimited storage on our Drive and seamless access to Google Suite through our school Gmail. Speak with your Google Suite administrator to learn about the features and functions of your access, as some institutions like my alma mater block YouTube and Google+. 

The following scenarios address possible technology solutions for teaching all learners. For instance, scaffolding supports different learners’ preferences, as well as the needs of lower performing students. Formative assessments are important to obtain ongoing feedback on student performance; use these often. They can be formal or informal (practice tests, exit tickets, polls). Formative tests promote active learning, which leads to higher retention of information learned. Use the following list to add your ideas and scenarios for differentiated lesson planning.

Scaffold Learning Google Tools & Features Formative Assessments Your Ideas & Scenarios
Provide visuals for structure, context, or direction & just-in-time definitions Google Drawings, Docs’ Explore tool, & Drive Students make their own graphic representation of a concept or complete guided tasks with the frame provided by an instructor.
Provide authentic speaking practice prior to oral test/presentation Google Docs’ Voice Typing, Chrome Browser’s Omnibox for a timer, & Drive Students work individually or in small group turn-taking voice typing their scripts/stories on Google Doc within a timed parameter on a split screen.
Check for comprehension to obtain data to drive instruction/remediation Google Forms, Sheets, Classroom, & Drive (Alternative: Google Slides new feature allows for asking questions & polling question priority live from slide.) Students take a quiz on Google Forms to demonstrate knowledge after a lesson (exit ticket) or homework. Instructors receive Form responses in a Google Sheet. Sheets has Explore tool for analyzing data for visual display for data-driven discussions among teacher cohort/supervisors. Auto import grades from Forms to Classroom gradebook.
Students use app with embedded choices to check their own grammar Free Chrome extension, Grammarly and/or app Students correct errors in their first writing drafts on the app or within online writing platforms (e.g., wiki, blog, or email). Grammarly is also available for MS Office and Windows but not for Google Docs. Use its app to check Docs or other writing formats by pasting content to New Document.
Hi/low peer collaboration and/or tutoring Google Apps, Classroom, & Drive Students share settings on project Docs, Drawings, etc. to collaborate via text comments or synchronous video chat sessions.

Resources for Digital Literacy Skill Training

  • Did you know that Google provides lesson plans for information literacy?
  • Do you need to teach your students how to refine their web searches? See Google Support.
  • Internet Safety Tip- Recommend that students use incognito browsing on Google Chrome when conducting searches to reduce their digital footprint. See Google’s YouTube playlist, Digital Citizenship and Security, and their training site for more information.

Accessibility Resources for Assistive Technology

  • ChromeVOX – Google’s screen reading extension for the Google Chrome browser and the screen reader used by Chrome Operating System (OS).
  • TalkBack – This is Google’s screen reading software that is typically included with Android devices. Due to the design of Android and its customizability by hardware manufacturers, TalkBack can vary and may not be included on some Android devices.
  • Screen Magnifier – This is the screen magnification software included with ChromeOS. The magnification function in ChromeOS doesn’t have a unique product name like other platforms.
  • Hey, Google – This is Google’s personal assistant, which is available in the Google Chrome browser, ChromeOS, and many Android devices.

Professional Development for Educators

Other

References

Palmer, J., & Caputo, A. (2003). Universal instructional design: Implementation guide. Guelph, Ontario: University of Guelph.

Instructional Design Graduate Assistantship Provided Apprenticeship

Dr. Rogers shows participants the various learning activities provided in StudyMate program
Sandra trained faculty at the University of South Alabama on various software programs such as Respondus’ StudyMate shown here.

This year, I’m celebrating my 5th anniversary as an instructional designer (ID). Prior to this career path, I was an educator for 18 years, so the transition was not difficult. As I reflect on the success I’m enjoying at Spring Hill College (SHC) now, I want to acknowledge the invaluable practical experience gained as an instructional designer during my doctoral program at the University of South Alabama (USA). I had a graduate assistantship with the Innovation in Learning Center (ILC) at the USA for 2 years.

Besides benefitting from tuition remission and a stipend, the apprenticeship provided me with the opportunity to work beside skilled IDs,  collaborate with a dozen of my classmates, and interact with faculty and students to address their needs. The assistantship purposefully had us cycle through various project teams, train-the-trainer sessions, and production tasks. Specifically, I was able to add these experiences to my resume:

  • Assisted the director of online learning with designing, developing, and delivering professional development and teaching tips for faculty to support student online learning via Sakai learning management system (LMS);
  • Moderated and maintained the online competency-based certificate course for faculty (Sakai 101: The Basics Online) and the orientation course for students (USAonline Student Course);
  • Supported the LMS administrator by answering technical calls from faculty and students; and
  • Served on the accessibility, resources, and USAonline teams to produce corresponding questionnaires, job aids, video tutorials, and reports (to include photography).

This apprenticeship grounded my doctoral studies, as I was able to think of developing trainer scripts based on Gagne’s 9 events of learning. See my previous post on a Pixlr workshop training plan.  Additionally, the formal and informal interactions with my peers provided opportunities to learn from each other, as the ID program is an interdisciplinary one. For example, my peers had advanced degrees in engineering, English, math, sociology, and IT. Many of my peers and co-workers from the ILC continue to shape my understanding of ID today through networking, professional development, and subject matter expertise on research interests.

If I didn’t have this well-rounded training and hands-on experience along with my doctoral coursework, I probably wouldn’t have had such as good start at my current workplace. For example, I was the first ID hired with a degree in the field at SHC. The previous person serving in the capacity of ID was actually the learning management system administrator and instructional technologist. All of the framework for collaborating with instructors as the ID (e.g., Online Course Design Guide, benchmarks, needs assessments, knowledge management, training), needed to be created from scratch. These documents initially relied on my ILC work experience but have since shifted to include the mission and identify of SHC. Nevertheless, I’m forever indebted to the ILC and my cohort of peers during my graduate assistantship!

Universal Design for Learning

Accessibility_Logo
Logo by Christy Blew of the University of Illinois for Educause, 2012

Universal design (UD) refers to the consideration of the needs of persons with disabilities in regards to physical spaces and objects; it has since grown into an initiative for education called the universal design for learning (UDL).  The original Principles of Universal Design (1997) are equitable use, the flexibility of use, simple and intuitive use, perceptible information, tolerance for error, low physical effort, and size and space for appropriate use. See the UD poster. The Center for Universal Design described it as a design that doesn’t need adaption for persons with disabilities in perceiving the content or operating the program. Adaption is key to equal access to education because to avoid having a student wait weeks while you provide a specific accommodation such as closed captioning to a video lecture. Instead, be proactive and have your first unit and/or introductory video captioned (or audio transcribed) in advance of the start date of your course. Another UDL educational correlation with the original UD principles is providing mastery test options or dropping the lowest grade for tolerance of error in the web-enhanced course.

There are several efforts to design education with UD in mind. Palmer and Caputo (2003) proposed seven principles for universal instructional design (UID): accessibility, consistency, explicitness, flexibility, accommodating learning spaces, minimization of effort, and supportive learning environments. The UID model recognizes those needs for course design. Its main premise is equal access to education and extends this to all types of learners and not just those with disabilities. For example, all learners can benefit from multi-modal lessons.

I recently attended a webinar by Dr. Tobin in which he recommended these instructional strategies for UDL:

  • Start with the text. It can serve as the script.
  • Make alternatives available such as a PDF instead of Microsoft Word so they can use the feature in Adobe products to read aloud the text.
  • Allow students to select their type of assessment choice.
  • Go step by step to break information into small chunks and provide still images for illustration when possible.
  • Set content free. By this, he means to make sure it’s shareable and not tied to your choice of tool/software. Ex. MP3 audio file as output instead of the Audacity file, which students would have to know how to use to open/play. The benefits of these strategies reduce cognitive load for all learners.

UD for the web isn’t only for education. Legal aspects include the web design standards created by the WWW Consortium (W3C) for information technology. They produced the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG), which are promoted globally.  I use their Web Accessibility Initiative website, as a reference at work: http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag.  Additionally, US federal laws include policies for equal access to Web-based information and technologies such as Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Access Board standards.  The Access Board standards are based on the WC3’s priority checklist.

Here are a few resources on UD:

References

Palmer, J., & Caputo, A. (2003). Universal instructional design: Implementation guide. Guelph, Ontario: University of Guelph.

The Center for Universal Design (1997). The Principles of Universal Design, Version 2.0. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State University.

Gagne’s Instructional Sequence for Podcast Learning Module

Title page to tech project

The following instructional design strategy is based on Gagné’s (1985) nine events of instruction in which he provided a format for designing effective training by correlating internal cognitive processes with that of external instructional activities. Many K-12 school systems utilize his sequence of instructional events as a framework for lesson planning. I have previously blogged about Gagné’s work.

These are the instructional events adapted from Gagné to teach k-12 students how to upload an audio file to publish a podcast channel on Podbean.com:

1. Gain attention by first showing a short video of the purpose and meaning of podcasting by Lee LeFever.

2. Inform student of the learning objective(s).

3. Stimulate recall of prior learning by reminding them of the images and vocabulary for technical terminology. Use a KWL chart to make meaningful connections to the sample podcast and informational video with their personal experiences. Have them share these experiences with their peers.

4. Present the content in a demonstration screencast depicting examples from the actual Podbean site to enhance the retention of information. In this way, learners will be more likely to apply the information to their
own project and internalize the content.

5. Provide learner guidance by utilizing callouts (arrows, highlights, & focused lightening), labels, and screenshots in the demonstration or recorded presentation. Use a how-to guide to support the presentation and provide for students with different learning preferences scaffolded instruction. These components will help students stay on track.

6. Elicit performance by having students follow the instructions in the how-to guide and/or presentation.

7. Provide feedback by having students conduct a self-assessment or peer-assessment of their performance with a checklist. Students can read each other’s user profiles and hear the final audio products when they share the links among themselves via email.

8. Assess performance by having students submit final project link to an instructor via email.

9. Enhance retention and transfer to the task by having them send their podcast to another student and have each of them upload it to their own, therefore, replicating the process again. The teacher could also send them an audio file to upload after a week has passed to have them revisit the steps. Encourage students to upload podcasts on a monthly basis in order to rehearse the skill, and therefore, submit to long-term memory.

The complete learning module (teacher guide, CCSS, pretest, KWL chart, student checklist, rubrics, vocabulary PowerPoint, how-to guide, & posttest)  is available for sale in my TeachersPayTeachers store, Teacherrogers.

(Note. Gagné’s 9 events of instruction are italicized. These do not need to be done in this exact sequence, as this is an iterative process.)

Reference

Gagné, R. M. (1985). The conditions of learning. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.

Elements of Cooperative Learning and Their Application to Distance Ed

Embed from Getty Images

 

According to Wikipedia, the cooperative learning theory has been around since the 1930s and discussed by researchers from diverse fields such as philosophy and psychology. Cooperative learning involves strategic group practices and elements to aid critical thinking.  As an educator, I’m most familiar with Kagan’s (1985) approach to cooperative learning. Additionally, I learned about Palinscar and Brown’s reciprocal teaching method; their article on Reciprocal Teaching of Comprehension-fostering and Comprehension-monitoring Activities (1984) predates that of Kagan’s work.  Johnson and Johnson researched and wrote about cooperative learning activities in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. I learned about their work in my doctoral coursework on instructional strategies.

Johnson and Johnson (1994) were the first to describe the following five essential elements of cooperative learning: positive interdepence, face-to-face (F2F) promotive action, individual & group accountability, social skills, and group processing.  The following lists their elements and how they can be implemented in online courses.

  1. Element of Cooperative Learning: Positive Interdependence

Course Design– A) Provide example of project team roles. B) Another layer to this is to then divide the content assignment into specific components and assign them to team members.

Resources–  I modified the list that Dr. Dempsey shared in our doctoral course on instructional strategies at the University of South Alabama: team leader, timekeeper, idea monitor, QA monitor, and Wild Card (for the extra item that varies according to the content or situation).

Difference from F2F Instruction: A) Not all students will be able to meet F2F on campus due to geographic distances. B) Not all students will see information (login) at the same time. Delays can cause emotional distress to team members and create psychological distance.

2. Element of Cooperative Learning: F2F Promotive Interaction

Course Design- Include synchronous sessions with live audiovisual possibilities.

Resources– Use virtual meeting spaces such as BigBlueButton, Skype, Google+ Hangout, & Second Life

Difference from F2F Instruction: A) Students can discuss items freely without being in earshot of the teacher or other teams. B) Students need technical skills to be able to participate online. C) Meetings can easily be recorded for review.

3. Element of Cooperative Learning: Individual & Group Accountability

Course Design– Create rubric for individual and group tasks explicitly described.  Ask student to complete a peer evaluation of team members according to their assigned components.

Resources- Teacher asks students to create this for greater understanding of the requirements.

Difference from F2F Instruction- No real difference except for no F2F lecture mode to explain rubric.

4. Element of Cooperative Learning: Social Skills

Course Design– Teachers model social skills with teacher talk.  They shape students’ behavior by providing praise when appropriate actions are taken.  They provide rubrics that describe the actions such as how many times to post in forums and to whom.  Students set up their own agreed upon ground rules.

Resources– Netiquette: There are several versions out there.  There’s even a multiple-choice test that scores a students’ netiquette knowledge automatically.

Difference from F2F Instruction– A) Etiquette rules differ. B) In OL, every student gets the opportunity to respond. C) For OL, there’s a larger chance of procrastination due to the “absence” of the traditional classroom routine, physical building, seeing friends in the hallway to remind you, etc.

5. Element of Cooperative Learning: Group Processing

Course Design– Ask students to create their own set of group rules and definitions. (This was another Dr. Dempsey idea.) Monitor group work by asking to be added to their collaborative project sites.

Resources– Use Web 2.0 tools like wiki, clog, and/or Google Drive to collaborate.

Difference from F2F Instruction- A) Must decide on which synchronous and Web 2.0 tools to use and create accounts. B) Meetings include the World Map for time and date. C) May be grouped with someone that you will never meet F2F (I’m unsure of the psychological ramifications but certain this plays a role in online behavior).

References

Johnson, D., & Johnson, R. (1994). Learning together and alone, cooperative, competitive, and individualistic learning. Needham Heights, MA: Prentice-Hall.

Kagan, S. (1985). Cooperative learning. San Clemente, CA: Resources for Teachers, Inc.

Palinscar, A.S., & Brown, A.L. (1984). Reciprocal teaching of comprehension-fostering and comprehension-monitoring activities.  Cognition and Instruction, I(2), 117-175.

Gagné’s 9 Events of Instruction for English Language Lessons

Embed from Getty Images

Note: Gagné’s instructional events have been widely adopted for instructional design purposes in multiple disciplines.  For example, K-12 school systems utilize his instructional events as a framework for lesson planning and evaluation. See my blog post on Gagné to learn more.

Teacher Preparation: Review lesson and consider content that requires scaffolding (support) such as bringing in realia or images of uncommon words, prepping for reviewing grammar or pronunciation rules, or considering practice activities and resources. These 9 events are iterative meaning you can jump around. For example, you might need to gain attention or provide feedback at different moments in a lesson. Also, ongoing assessment should occur for formative assessment checks in addition to summative assessment (test of everything they learned) at the conclusion.

  1. Gain Attention: (Simple strategies) Show images or items you plan to discuss in lesson. Practice pronouncing them. Ask if they are familiar with them. (Complex strategy) Role-play activity with ESL teachers to demonstrate situation.
  2. State Objective: Write the objectives on the board and check them off as you cover them. This helps the learner know what has been covered. Simplify the language of the objectives, so students will understand them. Use drawings for beginning levels. See list of verbs for language objectives below.*
  3. Stimulate recall of prior learning: Have you ever_____? Share experience. Tell me about ____.  Use brainstorming to illustrate information on white board. This will tap into their prior knowledge and ready their brain to receive related information for enhanced storage and retrieval.
  4. Present content: Direct instruction of lesson. Provide examples and nonexamples.
  5. Provide learner guidance: Accommodate learners as needed. Answer questions (consider ‘wait time’ across cultures may from a few seconds to minutes before a response). Guidance can be as simple as a head nod for accuracy or other total physical responses such as going up on your toes when a syllable is emphasized in a word.
  6. Elicit performance: Participants do the task individually, pairs, or whole group. Use gaming activities to make learning interactive (e.g., Hangman, Spelling Race, Mime for Guessing Game).
  7. Provide Feedback: Answer questions and assist participants one-on-one. Provide clarification verbally and in writing. Check workbook. Provide answer key and let them check their own answers in pairs.
  8. Assessment: Ask some basic recall and application questions. Ask higher order questions for analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Assessment can be as simple as raising hands for polling questions. Alternative assessments include performance or production of artifact (drawing, essay, pamphlet).
  9. Enhance retention and transfer: 1) In one word, how can you use what you learned today in your life/work? 2) Use language strategies to practice what you learned today. Which strategies will you use? Recommend appropriate strategies listed in my blog post. 3) Review newly learned material at start of next class for retention.

I prepared this instructional sequence for novice ESL teachers to prepare their lessons. I’ll definitely be adding to it. I’d love feedback/input from my ESL/EFL peers!

*Language objective verbs (Excerpted from Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2012) focus on the language functions.

Listening – tell, role play, identify, review, label, describe, define, name, match listen, recognize, pint, show, follow

Speaking – name, discuss, rephrase, summarize, explain, tell, use

Reading – preview, read aloud, find compose, construct, create, design, elaborate, specific information, identify, skim, test, infer, predict, hypothesize, invent, design explore Evaluation – choose, decide, recommend, select,

Writing – list, summarize, ask and justify, defend, support answer questions, create sentences, state and justify opinions, write, contrast, classify, record

Vocabulary Development – define isolated words, define words in context, find words and construct meaning

References

Echevarria, J., Vogt. M., & Short, D. J. (2012) Making Content Comprehensible for English Language Learners: The SIOP® Model. Pearson Education, Inc.

Gagné, R. M. (1985). The conditions of learning. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.

Magis Instructional Design Model for Ignatian Pedagogy

Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Engraving by C. Klauber. Wellcome M0005653

The Magis Instructional Design (ID) Model for online courses was developed by Sandra Rogers (2015) with input from the Jesuits at Spring Hill College, as subject matter experts, and her professor in instructional design, Dr. Davidson-Shivers. It’s unique in that it addresses religion, spirituality, and social justice in addition to intellectual growth.

Jesuit school educators include techniques for reflection within their units of study in order to challenge students to serve others (Korth, 1993). According to one theology professor, Jesuit educators focus instructional activities on experiential learning to engender the cycle of experience leading to reflection and further action. This is based on the dynamics of Saint Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises from which Ignatian pedagogy is derived.

The principles of Ignatian pedagogy include context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation (Korth, 1993). Further action and service to others are for the greater glory of God. Magis means doing more for God’s Kingdom (Ad majorem Dei gloriam). The Magis ID Model is an alternative to existing ones in that it embeds the following Ignatian pedagogical layers into the systematic design of instruction to develop learners into caring leaders by addressing the whole person:

  1. Analyze human learning experience online/offline
  2. Establish relationships of mutual respect online/offline
  3. Tap into learner’s prior knowledge & experience
  4. Design optimal learning experience for the whole person
  5. Assimilate new information
  6. Transfer learning into lifeworld
  7. Encourage lifelong learning & reflections beyond self-interest
  8. Learners become contemplatives in action

Online Community of Inquiry

Designing for a community of inquiry (COI) loop will address the Ignatian principles of teaching to the whole person. A  COI exists when you have social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence. These are essential elements to the communication loop for an online COI (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). This means that learners in an online environment are involved in activities that are cognitively challenging, are able to interact with their classmates, and that teaching is present in some way through words (e.g., text-based discussion), voice (e.g., podcasts), or person (e.g., webcast). The teaching can be delivered by student moderators or the instructor.

Bernard et al. (2009) conducted a meta-analysis of 74 online course interactions and found substantive research outcomes indicating the positive effect on learning when online educators build these types of interactions into their courses: student-student, student-teacher, and student-content. These interaction treatments (ITs) were defined as the environments and not the actual behaviors that occur within them. Through ID processes, one can design and develop these types of environments for distance education. Table 1 displays the main components of a Jesuit education, COI, and ITs, and their interrelationships.

Table 1

Comparison of Jesuit Education and Research-Based Best Practices

Jesuit Education of the Whole Person Mind Body Spirit
Necessary Elements for an Online Community of Inquiry Intellectual Presence Social Presence Teaching Presence
Research-based Best Practices for Interaction Treatments Student-content interactions Student-student interactions Student-teacher interactions

Designing Optimal Learning Experiences for the Whole Person

The Magis ID Model analyzes the type of instructional strategies used in distance education to ensure they address the whole person through cura personalis (mind, body, & spirit). Strategy selection should vary to meet the needs of diverse learners and engender higher-order thinking for cognitive presence. Selection depends on various affordances and constraints such as time and resources. For example, an activity-centered lesson is based on an interactive task and requires collaborative tools and student groupings. Content-centered lessons are passive tasks where the student generally only interacts with the content; the exception being discussions of content. Experience-centered activities require a hands-on approach to developing something or serving/working with others. The learner-centered activity provides the learner with more autonomy over their pursuit of knowledge and includes metacognitive actions for self-regulation of learning; the affordances and constraints for this type of activity are highly dependent on the task. Ideally, online educators should provide active learning activities to enhance cognitive transfer of new information and skills learned to long-term memory.

Contact Dr. Rogers (srogers@shc.edu) at Spring Hill College to learn more about this ID model and how it’s being used to develop distance education courses.