About UD FLC

Mission

The Universal Design Faculty Community’s mission is to foster scholarship, learning, and teaching for meeting the needs of diverse students.

Goals

  • Make learning accessible for all students
  • Improve teaching skills in order to achieve higher student success
  • Increase faculty collaboration across disciplines
  • Practice and implement the Scholarship of Teaching
  • Acquire skills in applying universal design principles
  • Publish results of the UD FLC

FAQs

What is a Faculty Learning Community?


How is an FLC different than other professional development activities?


What if I feel that I have nothing to contribute?


How much of my time am I expected to give?


Are there other projects/tasks that I am expected to do?


What does the teaching project encompass?


What are the benefits of joining this FLC?


What is Universal Design?


Are there some examples of how instructors have used universal design in their courses?


Who benefits from universal design?


Does universal design eliminate the need for accommodation?


What is the difference between universal design and assistive technology?


What is a Faculty Learning Community?

A Faculty Learning Community (FLC) is a network of instructors from different disciplines working together to enhance teaching and learning in higher education. The community utilizes the scholarship of teaching in order to advance the field of teaching in higher education.


How is an FLC different than other professional development activities?

Not only does an FLC bring faculty together for the purpose of improving teaching and learning, but FLCs also build community. In fact, a key component of the FLC is the community aspect.


What if I feel that I have nothing to contribute?

The purpose of an FLC is to learn from each other and improve higher education teaching at the same time. As an expert in your field, and you probably possess more knowledge about teaching than you realize. Being a part of an FLC allows you to build upon your strengths. But remember, just like any project, what you put into it is what you will get out of it.


How much of my time am I expected to give?

Members of the FLC are asked to consistently attend meetings every other week from March through June. The meetings will last for about two hours, and members’ schedules will be considered when finalizing the meeting dates and times. Time spent outside of the meetings will vary depending upon individual needs.


Are there other projects or tasks that I am expected to do?

Each member of the FLC will choose a teaching project that applies Universal Design. Once the FLC is established, the majority of the time during the meeting will be used to discuss Universal Design and members’ ongoing projects. Because this is a grant-funded project, there will be instances when you will need to respond to short surveys or participate in interviews.


What does the teaching project encompass?

As a member of this FLC, you will have the opportunity to select a focus course or project to try out teaching strategies, assess resulting student learning, and present your findings to the FLC. Examples of teaching projects include course portfolios, action research, learning audits, and overhaul or development of a course.


What are the benefits of joining this FLC?

FLCs benefit both faculty and their students.

  • The FLC can be useful (both professionally and personally) for faculty seeking tenure. Professionally, they can share advice about the tenure process and strengthen their teaching component. Personally, the FLC can be a place to reduce stress and integrate their family and academic lives.
  • FLCs allow members to encounter and embrace diversity in multidisciplinary perspectives, teaching, and learning. In fact, it is not uncommon for faculty members to realize that diverse students have different needs and perceptions regarding learning.
  • Student learning increases. Instead of wondering why students do not understand a concept, faculty members focus their attention on figuring out how to help the students understand. The importance of covering course content becomes secondary to helping the students know or understand the content. Better course discussions, increased student engagement, positive student evaluation comments, and higher quality writing assignments result.
  • Interaction among the different disciplines is typically limited. However, FLCs give faculty the opportunity to forge collaborative research relationships with faculty in other disciplines.
  • Because the FLC utilizes the scholarship of teaching framework, members are able to research, present, and publish articles about teaching.
  • Plus, you will receive the book, Universal Design in Higher Education: From Principles to Practice, to facilitate your learning, as well as funding for participating and implementing your teaching project.


What is Universal Design?

Ron Mace defined universal design as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.” Universal design is not a lowering of standards or a “one size fits all” model. Instead, universal design is about increasing learning accessibility by providing options. Within an educational context, universal design has several synonymous terms: universal instructional design, universal design for learning, and universal design for instruction.


Are there some examples of how instructors have used universal design in their courses?

Yes. Instructors from many disciplines have utilized universal design. The following are some examples from the Ivy Access Initiative:

  • A math/statistics faculty member began providing handouts of overheads to the entire class so that students could use them for reference and review. He also began to deliver his lectures more carefully, by replacing general terms like "this" or "that" with more specific descriptions, by pausing where appropriate, and by making eye contact with his students.
  • A composition faculty member began audio taping his class so students could review class discussion and the professor's instructions about completing assignments.
  • A sociology professor revised her syllabus to specify the objectives more clearly, and added a research project in addition to the midterm and final exam in order to diversify the types of work that affected the final grade in the course.
  • A computer science professor started to begin each class with a forecast of the key concepts to be discussed that day and why they are important in the course material.
  • An introductory physics course administers the midterm exams in the evening, allowing all students up to 2 ˝ hours for a one-hour exam.

  • Who benefits from universal design?

    Because universal design maximizes accessibility to learning, it benefits all students, including students with identified disabilities, students with unidentified disabilities, culturally diverse students, linguistically diverse students, and other nontraditional students.


    Does universal design eliminate the need for accommodation?

    No, universal design does not eliminate the need for accommodation. However, because universal design eliminates many barriers, some students will not need any additional accommodation.


    What is the difference between universal design and assistive technology?

    Both universal design and assistive technology increase accessibility for students who have disabilities. However, universal design differs from assistive technology in several ways. Universal design alters the environment and information, while assistive technology lets the individual adjust to an unaltered environment or information source. With universal design, the burden of changing things rests with the designers. With assistive technology, the burden of changing things rests with the users. Universal design serves many people at once, and assistive technology is individualized. Lastly, assistive technology is usually more costly than using universal design. However, keep in mind that universal design will not entirely eliminate the need for assistive technology.