Course: Instructor ongoing professional development
Module: Different teaching and learning challenges
1. To Increase awareness of common learning disabilities
2. To gain ideas for making practical adjustments to existing lesson plans to accommodate various learning challenges
The creator of this course is not an expert on learning disabilities. We also do not want to focus too much on learning disabilities but more on a universal design for learning approach. We do want to increase awareness of some common learning disabilities but will make sure that instructors know that we are not in a place to diagnose or label.
- learners are instructors at a multimedia arts and film school
- all are experts in their industries
- most have no formal pedagogical training
- teaching experience ranges from a few classes to many years
- many instructors are still working in their industries while teaching part-time
- some have a lot of experience with technology and teaching technology, some do not use technology to teach and might not be as comfortable
- all have used Moodle to some extent – whether it be just taking attendance and submitting grades, or uploading files and posting URLs
- many of the instructors have requested more training on teaching to students with learning disabilities
- instructors may not be paid for the time they spend doing this course
Objective 1: Common Learning Disabilities
- Matching exercise for learning disability terms and definitions.
Instructions: Please read the following pdf. When you are ready, complete the matching exercise below. You will be asked to match specific learning disability terms with their definitions. Try it without out referring back to the pdf first but if you need help, feel free to refer to the pdf.
Objective 2: Ideas for making practical adjustments to existing lesson plans in order to accommodate different learning challenges.
- Case Study Analysis
Instructions: You can do this individually or find a partner to work with who teaches in the same context as you. Choose 3 case studies. Read or watch the video clips. For each of the 3 case studies, write about 2 accommodations the instructor made for different learning challenges. Write what the accommodation was and what learning challenge(s) it addresses. Write 1 suggestion of another accommodation to do for a different learning challenge. Submit this to the course facilitator.
- Make your own adjustments activity
Instructions: Think of a learning activity that you have done in your class. What sorts of adjustments could you make to that activity? Choose 3 learning challenges and propose some adjustments to your activity to accommodate these 3 learning challenges. Post this in the discussion forum titled “Learning Activity Adjustments”. Once you have done that, read at least 2 other posts. Then go back to your post and add 1 additional adjustment for your activity. Incorporate some of these adjustments into your classes. Try to make a note when you have done it. When you have had the chance to use a few of them, fill out the self-evaluation report and post it to the forum.
Assessment Strategy Rationale
I started with a simple matching activity for my first assessment for a few reasons. It is easy to do and low stakes and will build confidence for students who are experiencing online learning for the first time. Also, for something as objective as terms and definitions, a matching activity is best. They are allowed to ‘cheat’ if they don’t know the answers because the objective is to increase awareness and not to memorize all of the common learning disabilities.
Case Study Analysis
With the case study analysis, I wanted to see if instructors could pick out different in-class accommodations that could be made for the different learning challenges. The point is that the accommodations are subtle and don’t take a whole different plan. We are not doing individualized educational planning, they are just broadening their teaching styles to accommodate the different learning styles in their classes. I gave the option to do it in pairs so that those who are not used to learning online can still have some face to face time with a colleague. It should also help with motivation.
I have a few case studies for them to choose from because I want them to look at different types of classes and choose ones that are most relevant to what they teach. While the activity is somewhat guided, hopefully everyone can choose relevant case studies to their teaching contexts and therefore use what they learned directly in their classes. As this is the first more in depth assessment, students will submit their assignment to the facilitator for feedback.
Make Your Own Adjustments Activity
This activity asks instructors to think of their own examples of learning activities and challenges they have encountered in their classes. As they have done a few activities now, they can post their work to a discussion forum and have more interaction with other instructors in the course. Ultimately, I wanted to keep this assessment as relevant to the instructors as possible which is why I asked them to add another adjustment to their own context after reading some of the other posts.
The assessment part of this activity has 2 parts. The first part will rely on the course facilitator to mark the instructor’s forum post using a rubric. The second part will take a bit longer in that it called for the instructor to do a self-evaluation report after they have had a chance to incorporate some of the adjustments into their classes. This is the most important part of the whole module because “assessment strategies are most successful if they replicate something that the student will do in his or her profession.” (Osika, 2009)
There is potential for another layer of assessment here if time permits. I might put instructors in pairs and have them observe each others’ classes with the intent to look for learning challenges in their classes and to see what they to do accommodate these challenges. Alternatively, a senior instructor or another full time instructor could do this as they might have more time.