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Course Overview

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 5 months ago

SPED 220: Universal Design for Learning-

Implications for Career Assessment and Transition

Summer 2007 - 3 graduate credit hours






 Contact Information

Fran G. Smith, Ed.S. CVE (fgsmith@vcu.edu)  | Visiting GWU Adjunct Faculty | (O) 804-827-1406 (H) 804-967-9244 (Fax) 804-828-7495

Susanne Croasdaile, Ph.D. (sscroasdaile@vcu.edu)  | Visiting GWU Adjunct Faculty | (O) 804-828-8179 (H) 804-784-0494

Office: Virginia Department of Education Training & Technical Assistance Center | School of Education | Virginia Commonwealth University

Face-to-Face Office Hours: @ the conclusion of class

Electronic Office Hours: daily | By email  | Online via Blackboard at http://www.blackboard.gwu.edu | Online via wiki at http://universaldesign4learning.pbwiki.com

Phone/Synchronous Office Hours: Make appointment by email or phone call


 Course Description

This course provides an overview and introduction to universal design for learning (UDL), including contemporary issues, applications of digital and assistive technologies, and tools for developing a comprehensive plan for UDL delivery. The design of curricula and learning environments that can meet the needs of all learners is a challenge. Often, attempts are made to retrofit a situation or environment and attempts to restructure or adapt fall short of offering a more holistic solution. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a new educational approach for teaching diverse learners through flexible applications of technologies, instructional networks and manipulation of digital content. UDL is based upon brain research from the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) that supports the success of using a mixture of technologies to enable students with diverse learning needs to become successful in instructional situations. The major theme of UDL is that instruction and assessment approaches should include alternatives to make them accessible and appropriate for individuals with diverse backgrounds, varied learning approaches, abilities and disabilities. UDL also correlates highly with the philosophies of Howard Gardner’s theory on multiple intelligences.

 Course Objectives

This course is designed to provide an overview to the areas of universal design and universal design for learning. Participants will be introduced to these revolutionary approaches in education and recognize the implications for instruction and assessment services. This course is intended for educators, practitioners, administrators, human services providers and others concerned with an effective and affordable match between differing approaches to learning and instruction. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Delineate between the concepts of universal design, universal design of instruction and universal design for learning
  • Learn skills needed to apply universal design for learning (UDL) to practice
  • Learn and use technologies that support UDL in assessment and instructional settings
  • Learn design techniques for making electronic media accessible
  • Apply UDL to assessment and curriculum planning
  • Develop action plans for continuous integration of UDL into practice
  • Understand the federal laws related to disability accommodation and accessible electronic media
  • Identify the resources to access technology services, online support and further training opportunities
  • Recognize the basic principles, techniques and strategies for conducting effective home, school or community evaluations for maximizing a universally designed approach
  • Identify assistive technologies that support the UDL philosophy
  • Utilize the Internet to locate resource information, contacts and strategies
  • Utilize and incorporate distance education resources to stay abreast of cutting edge trends in UDL

 Course Format

This will be a blended course of 5 face-to-face meetings with the remainder taught online. The format of the course will include classroom presentations, interactive PowerPoint slideshows, case studies, hands-on technology based activities, demonstrations, teacher presentations of UDL successes and team presentations of UDL action plans. Plans will also include opportunities to bring in guest expert lecturers and video broadcasts of UDL experts from around the country into the classroom. Class participants will have the opportunity to learn and evaluate a number of cutting-edge software and web-based technologies that support the UDL approach and make electronic media accessible. Finally, class participants will become members of the CAST National Consortium on Universal Design. This online discussion format and will follow participants as an ongoing resource to stay informed about emerging research and resources. 

 Course Prerequisites

Basic computer literacy is a must to be successful in this course. The Educational Technology Leadership Program at GW University offers a good review of the basic computer information needed for success in this type of course. This course requires students to have access to electronic mail and the World Wide Web. Most course materials will be posted online for use during the weeks of face-to-face instruction and web based lessons. Requisite skills should be acquired to operate these technologies without instruction. In addition, students will be required to submit all assignments in a word processed document as an attached file or posted to an electronic discussion forum as provided.  

 Course Texts and Readings


 Required Texts

  • Rose, A., Meyer, D. H., & Hitchcock, C. (2005). The universally designed classroom: Accessible curriculum and digital technologies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
  • Rose, D. H. & Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching every student in the digital age: Universal design for learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development. Online resource - http://www.cast.org/teachingeverystudent/ideas/tes.
  • American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th ed. Washington, DC: APA. Online resource - http://www.apastyle.org. The 5th edition has several new additions and changes. The American Psychological Association offers several resources on their website that may be of benefit to the student including APA Style Tips and ordering information for the APA Style Helper.


Recommended Texts and Readings

  • A number of readings have been posted on the Blackboard course website with citations. To access these online documents, you will enter the GWU Aladin database and be promoted to enter your last name, social security number, and select GWU as your institution. E-reserve readings are assigned as noted.


Recommended Websites

  • The Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)
  • Web Accessibility in Mind
  • The Center for Universal Design
  • A number of websites have been posted on the Blackboard course website; others will be posted on the course wiki.


 Course Activities


Traditional Experiences: Lecture/ discussion, demonstration, hands-on laboratory, student presentations, small groups, guest lecturers


Technical Experiences: Online instruction, website exploration, email, discussion forums, wiki-based collaboration, blog response


 Course Assignments


All written assignments are to be submitted double-spaced, 12-point font, Times New Roman, with 1” margins on all sides, and an appropriately formatted cover page that conforms to the style described in the 5th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Points will be taken off for papers that do not adhere to APA guidelines.


Class sessions will include lectures, PowerPoint presentations, guest presentations, website resources, interactive computer based instructional activities and in-class and online discussions using the Blackboard system and wiki. A variety of activities and assignments will be posted for student completion and count towards a portion of your final grade.


Class activities and online readings will be assigned to support materials discussed and distributed in class. You will be required to participate and react to these readings by replying through discussions both in class and online.


To participate in the distance learning components of this course, students must “log-on” and “interact within” the online course assignments and materials presented. Online participation will be checked on a regular basis. This course will utilize the Blackboard CourseInfo system at GWU. It is the students responsibility to confirm access through Blackboard and the GWU email system. You are to maintain an e-mail account throughout this class. Students will be responsible for checking the on-line course and participating in online discussion formats at the online course location.


You will need some type of portable media to save your digital work. USB or mini key drives are encouraged as these hold large files and will allow you to carry many of the digital materials shared and/or created in class. Since this class is highly participatory, attendance and a high level of participation are important. Missing more than one class will begin to affect the quality of your grade. Repeated tardies will not be tolerated and may also result in reductions in grade points.


The Presentation component of this course incorporates students sharing project work, ideas, and their completed projects via a class presentation on the final day. PowerPoint or multimedia presentations are encouraged with visits to web sites to complement your findings.



Cell phone use is discouraged during class time. If you must have a cell phone with you, make sure you place the ringer in a vibration mode so as to NOT disrupt the class discussion.


Individual conferences with the instructors are always encouraged and clarify mutual goals, help us make sense of situations and find workable solutions. The instructors can arrange conferences during the week of the institute (during lunch or after class), through a video conference call, through a live chat or by phone.


All students are expected to abide by The George Washington University "Code of Academic Integrity". These expectations include the application of academic integrity and honesty in your class participation and assignments. In also includes the expectation that you will listen without bias to the ideas of your classmates, while giving them the opportunity to test out ideas and opinions in an educational environment of trust and openness. The GWU statement on student rights and responsibilities is in The GeorgeWashington University Graduate Bulletin at http://www.gwu.edu/~bulletin/grad/unrg.html.


The George Washington University does not discriminate on the basis of disability in the recruitment and admission of students, the recruitment and employment of faculty and staff, and in the operation of its programs and activities. In order to receive an accommodation for a disability, the student must be registered with the Disability Support Services Office (DSS).


Preparation, timeliness, communication, and participation are key principles for ensuring your optimal learning and contributions to the class as a learning community. Class preparation (readings, team assignments) should be completed prior to each class meeting and all assignments are due on the stated dates.





All assignments are due on the scheduled dates. You must notify the instructor ahead of time if you foresee an emergency problem that does not permit you to complete an assignment on time. Daily attendance in classroom and online discussions is mandatory. Projects and papers should be submitted by email attachment to fgsmith@vcu.edu. Papers will be graded according to project criteria; both paper and rubric will be returned to the student.


Accurate, clear, concise writing is required of all professionals and will be considered in the grading of all assignments. All written assignments will be evaluated for content, clarity, format, and cohesiveness. Points will be deducted for spelling or grammatical errors. The final paper will be graded with attention to the student's adherence to proper APA format. See American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th edition. Washington, D.C.: APA.


Weekly class attendance, prompt arrival, and courteous communication are expected. More than two absences (other than documented illness or family emergencies) will result in the final grade being lowered by one letter grade.




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