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Communication, Inclusivity, and UDL

Lilian Nave
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Dan Hasan

What's in this episode?

Communication, Inclusivity, and UDL with Lillian Nave. As a UDL coordinator and host of the ThinkUDL podcast, Lillian brings a vast amount of insight into inclusive and engaging practices in the classroom and in course design. And as a passionate proponent of good pedagogical practice, she had plenty to talk about with us on the subject of communication, both face-to-face and in the new normal of remote settings. Whether designing learning activities or creating the best sort of assessment, instructors have to make choices every step of the way, often knowing that the desired and effective outcomes may differ. In this conversation, we talk about some of these choices, things we do consciously and unconsciously, which have an impact on our teaching, and learning experience. 

Transcript

Welcome back to the Learning Experience Lab, where we're gathering insights and inspiration from frontline educators around the world. I'm Dan Hasan, your host, and I'll be walking through the innovations and implications related to technology in teaching and learning. In episode 5 today, I had the opportunity to talk to Lillian Nave of the ThinkUDL podcast, about communication, inclusivity, and UDL, which is Universal Design for Learning, plus how these elements come up in course and activity design. Thank you Lillian for joining us, I learned a lot, and realised just how much more there is to think about in learning design. As a new podcaster myself, I started out asking about a recent episode on Lillian's show. I really hope you'll enjoy the following conversation!


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[Lillian] So talking to a wonderful colleague out in San Bernardino, California, who is working on how to reframe how we teach about neurodiversity. So autism, ADHD, and really leveraging that as a strength and reframing that in the working world as well. So she had a long career in the, in the private sector, and just highlighting those wonderful ways that neurodiverse people think and how that's helpful for companies and helpful for learning activities and educational settings, and to leverage that as a positive. So I'm really excited about that one that's coming out soon.

[Dan] I'll be sure to tune in, I saw you had an earlier episode about neurodiversity, and I had actually no clue what it was about.

[Lillian] Right? It needs PR, right?

[Dan] Yeah, exactly.

[Lillian] So that we can really reframe learner variability and learner difference. And the way that higher education is right now is if you have a student who's different, they are a problem. So you get more work, you get a letter from an accommodation office or a disability office. And it's more really more time more work and something you haven't planned on. So if we can begin to change that understanding of neurodiversity, and say, actually, this is a benefit to your students, it's a benefit to you. If you can keep those students in mind from the very beginning, then you're actually going to have a better outcome for all of your students, if you are keeping the vast array of learner difference in mind, as you are planning your course if you put it into the design. So it also works for people you didn't even think of. So one might have the option to give a response in a written form in an oral form in a video form right on. And you may have thought to do that, because a student is much better at speaking than they are writing. And if your goal is not to have them be perfect writers, if your goal is really just to know that they understand the material, then does it matter which form it comes in. And that might help your student who is dyslexic or has dysgraphia, or something like that. But it also is going to help your student who is a full time parent, or who has time constraints, or who has any number of things that happened in the world today, that having an option as to whether to record your voice or to write it down or speech to text. It's going to everybody

[Dan] I remember, even back when I was in primary and Middle School in the UK, we had that there were so many posters in classrooms. That's what I remember from my primary and middle education, that we had a poster that said, the different forms of learning you had auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. And I thought, yeah, wonderful. There's an awareness of the people learn in different ways. But I haven't really seen much done with it since then, actually. So I'm really interested in our you've encountered and develop these ideas about different representations, and modalities of learning, and also how it links into UDL, I think.

[Lillian] Yes, and one of the things that I want to make sure that I distinguish, too, is a difference between learning styles, which is really a myth about that you have to do different styles or that people are only learning a particular way. But providing options so that students can choose how best they can interact with certain materials. So a lot of people have kind of gone really far with the learning styles idea. And it's just, it's um it's not. It's not UDL. So let me let's make that distinction to Universal Design for Learning is a design principle based on neuroscience that allows for multiple means of engagement. That's one part which also includes motivating students, the First thing I think we need to do so students know why they are learning what they're learning. The second part is multiple means of representation. So, having a really accessible materials. And the final part is that multiple means of action and expression, which is the assessment part. So that's what I'm talking about. Is it possible? Could you get what you want from your students via an oral presentation, a written paragraph, or maybe a little short film? And if that's not going to change what you want from the students, if you just need to know that they can put these three ideas together. And it doesn't matter how they show you, then having options is great.

[Dan] Yeah, that was about the assessment. And the action was actually going to hear my next question, because, well, for some context, I think feedback fruits, I don't know how much you know about us. But we've especially taken interest in the why the motivation, the engagement, 8.3 8.4, the this idea of collaboration community, I mean, with the feedback tools that we're developing, and institutions are piloting or partner with us they're using, that's really the focus, like the driving point where we try to understand and also sometimes advise on what's going on. But when you talked about having multiple representations and assessment methods, I started thinking, is it not a big challenge for teachers to include so many different sorts of rubrics and considering limited resources and time to come up with an assessment method, which can inclusively assess and tackle these different forms? Right?

[Lillian] Right. Okay. So there's good news is that you really don't need to have different rubrics. In order to have an assessment, you would like to have that rubric be the same. So that you're checking for? Do they understand this? Have they researched it? Well, you shouldn't have to have multiple rubrics. And if it's a well planned assignment, you do give options, but the rubric really will remain the same. So if somebody has spoken it or written it, really, it makes you think about what do I really want from my students? Or what do I want from this assignment? So one of the things we talk about a lot and Universal Design for Learning is, what is the goal? So it really helps our professors actually to narrow down their focus and determine what is the point of this assignment? And if the point of the assignment is to write a five paragraph essay, then that should be the rubric. Like it should be about writing and you haven't, it doesn't have an introductory paragraph, does it have a concluding paragraph? Does it have three points? Does it have references, right, that would be the rubric. But if the point, or the goal of the assignment is to demonstrate an analysis that you can analyze a work of art, you can analyze a, an article, whether that's spoken or written, or, you know, maybe even created, animated short, that, you know, explains that it really helps us as instructors to focus on what do I really want. And we find out, oftentimes, that we had put in a bunch of barriers for our students that got in the way of their learning. For example, I wanted my students to explain to me how my, let's see, one of the things that I've taught before is about looted art during World War Two, right? So students had to kind of tell the story of how a work of art was stolen. And perhaps, you know, repatriated, if I said, Okay, you have an oral presentation on the last day of class, and you are to explain the story of what happened, you know, and what were the ins and the outs and the legal problems, etc. And I have a student who is, has anxiety, who has a speech impediment who has any has a sick relative on the day of the final, right? What have what I've done is I've created some artificial barriers for that student to explain their knowledge. If I want to know just have they researched the story, and they know what's happening, then they could write The paper and they could I usually have them create a documentary film. And they could do that asynchronously, then that could be shown during class when we're having our final presentations. And it really helped me to determine what is it I want the students to do. I want them to really get into the research, I want them to be creative and how they're doing the research. But it doesn't matter to me if they're an incredible speaker in front of slides in performing in front of 20 other students, that's not it's not a public speaking class. Really, it's a research and kind of an introduction to these larger international problems and, and how art is important. So I would have been creating artificial barriers for that student, if I said, oral report time, but, and I made that the point. But that's not really the point. But we used to do that all the time. I used to do that all the time. And so we might be assessing a student really on their performance, but not on their knowledge.

[Dan] So instructors then are really more required to think about what is being assessed, and not necessarily dictating the style of presentation or style of Yeah, expressing this content. But really, if you're giving them the freedom to present it in video and text in audio even. Yeah, you don't necessarily need different rubrics, I'm saying that. And I mean, personally, I think I'm terrified of the idea of having to, but it's not having of creating a video to to express what I usually put down in an essay, but then again, maybe not my friends, but even people 510 years younger than me are making tik tok video Snapchat videos, they're learning the skills to be able to do these things with, yeah, 510 years ago, it wasn't necessarily a mainstream thing to have the access or the ability to edit videos, but now it really is. And yeah, the more educators and education can get on top of these trends, and yeah, the access to technology we have I think, the better honestly.

[Lillian] Well, you bring up a really good point. So that too, could be like you just brought up a barrier, you're not so familiar with creating a documentary film, right. And we can't even assume that our, you know, our generation of learners, even though they're making tic Tock videos, and they're making selfies, it, you know, all this stuff. But we can't assume that they're magical, wonderful at making videos. So if that's part of the rubric, like I want them to be able to not give a presentation orally, but they're supposed to do this documentary film, that means I need to scaffold their learning. So another part of universal design for learning is breaking up larger projects into smaller chunks. And so throughout the semester, that would include coming up with your topic early, doing your research, checking in on that, getting your storyboard together, and we have a workshop on that. Then I am invited to our university, we have a documentary film services, we have a workshop on here is the software that we have for free at the university. Here's how you learn how to edit everybody, you're going to try and edit this short documentary right now. Here's how you add a title, here's how you add sound. Here's how you put it together. And so that a novice student would be able to have the skills by the end of the class to perform well. And we can't just assume that you're going to know or you're going to figure it out by yourself. So, you know, UDL also makes us think about, well, what is the skill? I want them to know? And am I giving the students the tools for them to be successful along the way? And are they accessible? And are they you know, at the right level for our students? And some of my students, you know, that day where we do video editing, they know it all, you know, they Yeah.

[Dan] You're gonna run across these geniuses? Yes, it's funny because I've been doing UDL without even knowing it. I was doing an internship with a middle school in the Netherlands. It was in Dutch, so it was really pushing the limits of my abilities. But there was an integrated science curriculum, there's something called NLT nature, life and technology roughly translated. So it's kind of bringing in biology, chemistry and physics. And one of the projects, one of the modules so we say for the students was to do something about water pollution and the water management and ecosystem in the Netherlands. And they don't know how much you know about the Netherlands but water at the sea is like an integral part of society. Yes, and I wanted them to be able to do the project like words in the book, but have different assessment methods, they could write an essay, they could do their project, but I wanted to have them make a video will have the chance to make a video. And so putting together this different assessment method, I started realizing that I needed to include resources and workshops and materials on video sound editing, and it was becoming so much more instruction, I was wondering if the content was then being left aside. So I was really running into a problem with trying to convince the teachers that all the extra time and effort spent on guiding students to be able to express themselves in this potentially new way. Mike, they're not leave the mics, they're not leave them with enough time to go over the content themselves. Is that something familiar to you or?

[Lillian] Right? So that's when we have to do this design thinking what is important to us as the instructor. And it sounds like you were also teaching new skills. And so some of the goals was that of that project was for the students to be able to express themselves clearly. And you gave a lot of options for them to do it. And if some students weren't very comfortable, or they didn't have a cell phone, or you know, a access to a way to do it themselves, and they had other options that would allow for them to be successful, and still cover the content or be able to express an understanding of what you wanted them to know. And it is just a choice I think we have to make with our students is determining, okay, what is it? We want them to get out of it? And then what are we willing to, to? To cut out? If it's, if it's too much right, and to know what they're able to do? And what we can do to help?

[Dan] Do you have any particular thoughts on the strengths of the video format? over the essay, perhaps? I mean, certainly, we seem to be moving into a more multimedia world, more access to these screens everywhere. But also, as well as consuming all that information producing it the the tools and accessibility is increasing exponentially is, Are there certain things which are more attractive, or allow you to express more with video as opposed to the traditional written essay?

[Lillian] You know, I think there's two answers. One is, it's an individual choice. So some students are able to express beautifully with their words, in a poem in spoken word in an essay, in just their choice, and of words, and their ability even to tell a story, even if it's not, let's say an academic essay, maybe it's a short story or work of fiction. And so I don't think that there's necessarily an absolute difference between the images. And in written word, it's kind of a choice between the strengths of some students, and also, whoever is digesting this information. And, you know, I, in the midst of the pandemic, I get screen fatigue myself. So if I could just listen to a podcast, rather than watching a webinar, I might choose to do that, too. However, the other answer is, we are very deeply moved by emotion. And having lots of ways for our senses to be immersed in something I think is helpful. So being able to see a movie with a soaring musical accompaniment, or something like that maybe helpful in understanding a point or, or bringing somebody along on that ride that we want to take them on. But I think it's, there's a lot of individual choice that goes on with how we're going to react to that. So I'm not going to privilege one over the other because sometimes Now we do have screen fatigue, and just having the options. So if, like if somebody sends me a TED talk, I love watching TED talks, you know, they're short, sometimes five minutes, and like, I think the most is going to be 20 minutes mostly. Sometimes I will watch it because it might be really important for me to see the images. And sometimes I will press play on my laptop and start doing something else, you know, shuffling papers and listening to it. And then there are also other times where I am going to skip right to the transcript. And I say, Oh, this is really interesting to me, but I kind of want to hit the high notes and find out if it is something that I already know or I know a little bit about. I want to see this particular table. So again, having those options is it's gonna fit. I think just that maybe that's the time of day, you know, early in the morning, I might be more excited about something. And then as the afternoon wears on, and I need a cookie, I might need to take a walk and listen to the podcast

[Dan] Or something like we agree that Yeah, I again, I'm not going to try and like favor video over written word. But at the end of the day with video, you're bringing together sound audio and potentially also text. So for those multimodal learners who prefer one sort of style over the other the auditory or the oral presentation over visual, perhaps they can kind of pick and choose a little and I noticed myself, I greatly enjoy consuming educational entertainment videos on YouTube, which I don't understand at all. They have nothing to do with my domain or my career or anything, but I sometimes put them on in the background while I'm doing something else, put them on 1.5 or double speed, and then pause when a keyword hits my brain. So there's all these different ways. Also, sometimes having them on the television, while I'm writing an essay or something, there's different ways that not just the direct, but the peripheral information is coming in and kind of feeding, I hope growing and teaching me something because ...

[Lillian] And I must say it's the choice, right, you have the choice to stop it to go 2.0 speed, which is how I watched most videos, myself, and I listened to podcasts on 1.5 speed. And that just works for me, sometimes I'll need to rewind or listen to it again. And that is just what's so important is we have those options. And two things that made me think about is one, my daughter is a sophomore in college, so she has this semester chemistry, physics, and biology. And many of it has been thrown online, right. So they're not in the classroom, and they're so and these, you know, just like me, in my teaching, we're making videos, and we're trying to get this information out that we usually would have been doing in front of a live audience. But my daughter said that she usually loves the sciences, she's a real, she's gonna be a biology major, she loves it. But it's really hard for her to concentrate for a long time and listen to this audio, this video, watch this video, and there is no choice to speed it up or slow it down. And there's art not captions. And I've you know, my brain is exploding with my, you know, UDL. And it's made it more difficult experience for her. But also at the same time, it made me think of a very recent article about zoom fatigue, and why we get overwhelmed because in, in our conversations or in our meetings, and when we are really trying to concentrate. And if you're looking at people's facial movements and eyes, and you're getting eye contact, and you maybe you've got five or 10 different faces on the screen at the same time it's wearing and it's a lot of cognitive load. And it makes you tired. And I know, maybe this is a lot of information for your listeners. But when I do a whole interview on the podcast, I'm sweating, like nobody's looking at me, you know, I, I mean, I have the one person who I'm talking to, but I get you know, my body and emotional energy is very much activated. So it's like I just went out for a jog. And I get all sweaty about it. So we may think it's very passive, but it's still a very active ...

[Dan] ...interaction areas. Yeah, I'm incredibly interested about the move to online and the effect on communication, the cognitive processes, perhaps. But I was thinking as you were talking, is it less? Or is it more cognitive load, to be able to not just see this one face, but also sometimes look at the camera. Sometimes I'm typing my notes. So my eyes are going all over the place, obviously, now what's a good thing is that we're face to face. So we never have to worry about breaking eye contact or body position too much. But then at the same time. So you've got multiple people at the same time. But then there's other parts like I can see you from the shoulders up. And when it comes to meeting you in person, perhaps there's going to be a whole like 90% more of the body to then take into account but that's what we're used to. We're used to the whole body, the whole face and the whole non digital the acoustic voice right. So in what A year, maybe two years, we've been adapting to having pretty much all of our conversations online, is that less or more cognitive load than what we're used to, for however long we've been living, all our interactions being in passing? I wonder.

[Lillian] Recently I've read about some of that, which is, our it has changed, it has changed how we interact with others, because like, right now we have to be seated. Or else we need to be walking around with our laptop or whatever, right? If we were having a conversation in a room, we might be seated around the table, we could stand up, I could look somewhere else and not be outside of the conversation. If I'm right now I've turned my face away from my computer, and it's quite, you're like, What's happened? I've done it? Sure, right.

[Lillian] Yes, exactly. So if we were in an actual room, if we were in a meeting, you know, there might be times when somebody may sit back in their chair. And that's what I'm doing right now. And kind of looking up in the sky and thinking about what I might say next. And that gives me a chance to break from that very intense face to face contact. So yeah, so I think there is a big difference. And we are constantly searching for these, like bodily cues and clues to see if our ideas are hitting or what's happening and meet multiple people at the same time. And additionally, here's the other part that I like about what we're using right now is my face is tiny, on this platform. And usually when I'm on zoom, you can see, like, you can see yourself now you can hide that easily. But when I'm teaching, I noticed when we're on gallery view, if my students can see themselves, there's a lot of room right now I'm playing with my hair, and I'm making make sure Oh, is it? Okay, let's make it look, oh, it's around my ear, I've ...

[Dan]  got to change. Honestly, if I have my video shown, then I'm looking at myself way too much as my hair, okay, so I always try and hide my tail, make it minimal at the top. So it's not a distraction. Because in the end, at the end of the day, in a quote unquote, normal conversation, you're not going to be confronted with your own face in the mirror, unless you hold a mirror up to you while you're having a conversation.

[Lillian] So you're really weird.

[Dan] Yeah, I'm not sure if it's late to narcissism on my part or something, or just that it's something I'm not used to. But yeah, if I'm looking at my face, in the call, then I'm looking at my face. So I always try and get rid of it so that it doesn't become a distraction.

[Lillian] Right. So I mean, that has really changed how we are having these interactions, we are intensely conscious of our own self, and how we look, as we're trying to have a conversation and intensely concentrate on are they getting what we are trying to put out there. And then we can't move, we're kind of stuck in the same place in front of your desk or your your camera. And there's not the real movement or spatial kind of thing. And we're not inhabiting that same space.

[Dan] So you talk about intensity and fatigue. And yeah, I mean, I've just had a conversation, an interview with someone who was using our tools, and I had to keep apologizing because I was typing while I was talking and saying sorry, for the little breaks. Sorry, I need a breather to, to kind of make excuses for the fact that while we're in a call, and we're staring directly at each other's faces, I have this unconscious feeling, I think that we need to keep a constant badminton back and forth. And if there's a break in conversation, something bad is happening. But no, I'm going to take five seconds now and just sit back and relax and not say or think of anything. And that's okay, because a conversation in the quote unquote, normal natural way wouldn't be a constant back and forth. There are breaks, there are pauses, as you said, as you mentioned earlier, you can sit back, you can look away. And when you're in a meeting room or something or sitting on a bench with your friend, you know that that's a natural break a natural reflection moment, even a distraction moment, and that's okay in a conversation. But now that, okay, this isn't just a conversation. This is a scheduled interview in my Google Calendar, where I've joined a program so I can specifically talk to you we're not just meeting on the street or in the classroom. It's such a different environment. And I think it's really important that we do become conscious and that we do talk about these things very explicitly, very specifically, and have them out there. Because Yeah, you mentioned also that we've become more conscious of ourselves and our communication, but it's also about the technology, the interface, the infrastructure itself. having an impact the, the more data we gather, the more we document it, the more understanding we can have of it, and then the better we can use, I think.

[Lillian] And you also bring up something that's different culturally to, and that is how conversations are handed off between people. And that can be that can vary widely. So in some cultures, it is quite usual for you to sort of be stepping on the back end

[Dan] interrupted yet just

[Lillian] excited, right? And you're engaged. Yeah, right. And then, and then other cultures too. It's a bit rude to do that. And a conversation would be, I'm going to slow down my cadence right now would be far more measured. And it would show appropriate amounts of respect for someone to allow for a sentence to end, and then give a moment of reflection, before anybody tried to express their or to offer their insights. So that it might be I'd like to think about that for a moment. And then I'd like to address it, because your words were so important to me. I want to ponder them before I'm able to explain what I think.

[Unknown Speaker] Yeah, that's around me to interrupt. I mean, like, the point that you bring is really resonated with me, because yeah, like, like, because from my culture as well, it's not a habit to interrupt the conversation. So we also need to wait for, like, yeah, like for others to finish their turn before we like, we also need to digest the, like the content of the conversation, and then we provide the ask if we can close the questions. But they're like that spring, like, like the point. So like, have you encountered that issue in your class? And is that like a problem when like, there's so many different types of compensation, and then like, your students come from different cultural backgrounds, and they process the discussion, and then they like the communication differently? And like, have you encountered that? And, like, how did you like, like, managed to resolve it?

[Lillian] Right. So fantastic point. And what has been so interesting about this pandemic, and going online, is we are seeing that students who normally would have been silent in a large classroom, are able to communicate and are able to better participate in a discussion, because they can think and write and maybe put something in the chat. Whereas in a, let's say, a seated actual live discussion class, it's only those students who have a pre-election hit, I'm going to be the first to raise my hand, they can think quickly on their feet, so to speak. And they might not have the best ideas, that maybe they're just they're very competent, and they might raise their hand first and want to be called on. However, there may be five other answers that are in that classroom, that would add to the discussion that might have a more nuanced understanding, but we don't get to them. Because of we're just, oftentimes we hate silence. We don't have that silence in the classroom. So we want to fill it, we usually wait less than a second, for students to answer your question. So some of the things I've seen is asking if you're in that CD classroom, and then I'll get to the online classroom. If you're in the CD classroom, and you want to get more from and more from your students and allow for those students who need to process things. Maybe they're slow processor. They're brilliant, right? They've got wonderful things to say. You say, Okay, I'm going to ask this question. I'm going to wait. And if you have an answer, I want you to raise your hand. And I'm going to wait until I see five hands. And then I'll call, you know, a couple of those. So that it's not just automatically we're going to get to that first answer. And then if now if we're looking at the online, oh, my goodness, this has opened up so many possibilities, asynchronous discussions, you get all the time you need to watch the lecture, rewatch the lecture, and read, read or listen to readings or any number of things. And then you get a chance to process it and then you can say your answer. Or if we're in a, let's say, a live synchronous zoo. class, I can put a put a question up on the screen. I can ask students what they think about it. And I can have them answer and a great technique is say, I want to know your answer to this. How are you feeling? What do you do you agree or disagree? to agree and what, please write your answer. So that they're not seeing anybody else's answer until everybody has had a chance to process and and say what they think so everybody can now we can't do that in a seated classroom. Alright, everybody, tell me your answer all at the same time. Wow, what a great advantage. And that could be cultural. It could be learner variability, learning difference, maybe an auditory processing issue. So especially if, if it's only a sound, and we don't have closed captions, then some students are going to be left out, some students are going to be privileged. And also those cultural things about some students don't know that they're supposed to, you know, answer a question right away, they might need to ask permission, right. So being really clear on our directions, I think is also really important. So that students know how they can interact in a way that is most comfortable. So going back to that, maybe a live synchronous zoom situation, again, you can say, here's this question, I'm going to say it, I'm also going to have it up on the screen, or I'm going to put it into the chat. And everybody's going to take one or two minutes to formulate your answer, write it down, put it in the chat. And then if you'd rather, you know, come off the mic, we're going to, you know, come off of mute, I should say. And if you'd like to see your answer, you can do that as well. But everybody's had a chance to think about it, and then react to it.

[Dan] For me, two things came to mind while you're speaking. And one some context first. I'm very new to instructional design, I don't even like to call myself an instructional designer, because I'm so Fresh Off the Boat. I haven't even finished my course at uni yet. But one thing that we've been learning about is trends and innovations in education. And this idea of the traditional idea of a teacher as an expert, transitioning more to coaching, right. And as you were speaking, I was thinking, now these students who traditionally wouldn't say anything in the classroom are having the opportunity to not just interact more, but even interact better than the teacher sometimes because they understand the tools better. They've been used to Teamspeak or chatting when playing video games or on online forums, so that they're more familiar with the tools. Sometimes now the student is becoming the teacher. So there's this theme of equalization, that's somewhat at play when it comes to interaction and communication in the online settings. And then something else you said about having more chance to process lectures and videos. This has come up multiple times in interviews I've had with teachers who have had online lectures, sorry, recorded lectures, or, you know, students giving presentations, but those presentations are recorded, and then uploaded. And then students can watch in their own time. And teachers keep saying to me, the quality of questions we're receiving now is exponentially better than beforehand, because there's this time to process. And that's not something that feedback fruits can take credit for. That's just an artifact of the online situation. But it does seem that with all the challenges that the switch to online is brought, there's proved to be some very good opportunities. Also the ability for this thing of I think there's like mentee and other apps where a teacher can pose a question and then 100 or 1000 responses can come in. And that data can be calculated, it can be collected all at once rather than you, you let me point to the next hand up one at a time. No, we have these screens, we have these interfaces for data now. So even in a traditional lecture hall, in a live lecture setting, that question can be posed and all of those answers appear on the screen. And it's beautiful, because you can see every mind working at once, that ability to optimize how we're using data and technology is really fascinating to me.

[Lillian] Yeah, I must say when I do the technique of asking people to write their answer, but don't press return. I love seeing boom, a huge amount that just scroll by and then I can go back and see trends and I can see that you know, maybe maybe two thirds of the students got it, you know, or two thirds of the students think this is the the way to go on this one or Oh, that's an interesting understanding. And I teach also right now I'm teaching intercultural competence. And so being able to highlight, Oh, isn't that interesting that you see this and somebody else is going to see this. And that's actually going to illustrate our point. So is that if we come from different cultural viewpoints, we're going to see different things in this situation. And we don't want to be biased by somebody who raised their hand and said at first, and then you've, you've forgotten what your first, you know, first idea about the situation was, it's amazing how a simple yes, no, do we include this feature? Or do we use another word, for example, everyone hits return at the same time rather than the answer stream and one by one, such a small simple choice, it seems on the surface, but it can have such a big impact on the overall learning experience. And I was talking with me earlier about how we can possibly write some more articles on our tools. In fact, the features that we have anonymity, for instance, just one feature, not the whole tool, one feature,

[Dan] if you say, Yes, what are the consequences? If you say, no, what are the consequences? So when should you use these things.

[Lillian] And I've noticed some, I do a lot of annotation, when I'm doing presentations, where I'll have a slide on the screen and ask people to annotate. And there's a feature to make it anonymous too. And I think that's important too. so that people can really freely express what they have in their name doesn't show up, or you know, and that changes to how truthful people are going to be and how weak they are. It's a risk, it's a risk to make a guess, maybe you don't know. And I want my students to risk and make a guess. And then we learn from that, we learn a lot more from our mistakes that we do from our successes. making those six those failures. Easy. I want those failures to be easy, but that we can learn from them that it's not a high risk, high embarrassment, you know, kind of shame sort of thing, like when you raise your hand and there's 30 people looking at you and your answer is wrong. You never forget that moment. You know, I never I still remember getting something wrong in second grade. And I had transformed to numbers. Instead of saying when I built I remember the question. When did Columbus discovered America? 1492. And now that question is completely fraught with many other changes, but, and I said, 1942 because it was the year my mom was born. So I just switched those two things. And you know, I was so competent, and I knew it. And I just said, the wrong thing came into my mouth. And I still remember the feeling of shame and getting it wrong. For my team. I think it was some conversate. Some competition,

[Dan] Well, emotional, salient events, they stay with us. That's where we learned the most.

[Lillian] Yes. And so I want us to be able to learn from our mistakes, but I don't want that damage, that emotional damage that goes along with it, I want it to be we can accept these risks and mistakes, and we learn from them. And it makes us all better. And we can learn from each other's mistakes as well. It's all really important. So the more feedback we can get from each other, the more I can hear from other students. And as you said, students will teach me and that has happened a couple years ago, I said, Let's make a website for our findings. And I am not a website maker. I went with our instructional designer met with him and we came up with a site and I was like, Okay, guys, here's what we have. And I want you guys to populate it. And one of my students has his own business and has his own website. He said, Do you mind if I try it? I said, Go ahead. Oh, 10 times 100 times better. It looks so good. Yeah, so I said, That's much better. I you know, I at least I tried, but you're so much better at this. And so it became a much better project because of leveraging the talents and the differences in the room or in that class made it so much better. And as you said before, Dan, the idea of a the role of an educator had been to be the giver of knowledge, the explainer. And now it's more of a facilitator to facilitate learning and to encourage students to become better learners on their own because That information, there's so much information out there that I don't have to, you know, cover it, let's say or explain it or say it. Because there's a lot of ways to get that information. But it's more of my job. Alright, what do we do with that information? How do we understand that information? How do we use that information? How is it going to be helpful? How do we analyze it? How do we, how do we make the world better? That's what we need to be doing with our students at the end of the day

[Dan] Any fact? factoids, any theory model framework is just a Google away if you know how to do your search terms correctly. So how is education going to change to accommodate the fact that it's not so much about remembering or understanding more about retrieving, locating or organizing this information? It's a minefield, when I talked to my mom about this recently, the fact that you don't need to remember anything anymore, because you can just Google it. She said to me, what if all the satellites go down and your Google Map stops working? And you need to pull out your map? And you've got no idea what page 31 Yeah ...

[Lillian] Yeah, there's definitely still a place for remembering but it's how, what we need to remember and how, you know, and sort of processes and how to analyze I think it really is changing. You know, when I was a student of art history, it was named date, title, artist, period, and place and, and I still remember a lot of those things. And yes, we need those things in the back of our heads. But it's far more important now to understand the larger picture of what's going on and how it fits into the culture. It's just much more nuanced.

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Thanks again Lillian, we really appreciate you coming to talk to us and can't wait to join forces again and revisit these topics. As we touched upon in the interview, elements from UDL can be found almost everywhere that robust course design has been implemented and I'm excited to learn more about the applications and outcomes of this model, which looks to be, as its namesake, a truly universal lens for looking at learning design. Lillian's podcast, ThinkUDL, is linked on this page, as well as her Twitter and LinkedIn handles so you can keep up to date with the amazing work she's doing.

In the coming weeks and months, FeedbackFruits, who makes this podcast possible, will be attending and presenting at a number of events and conferences, which we'll release more information on soon. We're also planning on hosting our own conference at the end of May, so stay tuned to hear more. And you can follow this podcast, the Learning Experience Lab, via all your favourite platforms, and follow FeedbackFruits on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, for more information on anything that resonated. If you'd like to get in touch personally with any comments, queries, or questions, do email me at dan@feedbackfruits.com - I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time, thanks for tuning in to the Learning Experience Lab!

Further readings and references:
  • In case you are not familiar with UDL, check out this comprehensive guide to understand more.
  • You can listen to Lillian’s amazing podcast – Think UDL to gain further insights into the UDL framework and how educators can implement them within the classroom.
  • As we also touched upon the topic of neurodiversity, we would recommend you having a look at this wonderful book by David Pollak.
  • Also make sure to check out our ebook for best practices and strategies on building a social, inclusive online classroom.
Lilian Nave

Senior lecturer at Appalachian State University

Lillian loves to explore what sorts of teaching and learning are being used, how they're implemented and received, and why any of it matters!

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Dan Hasan
Content Creator, FeedbackFruits