Certificate in Learning Differences and Neurodiversity​

Course Syllabus
LDN 640—Leveraging Universal Design & Learning Technologies for Student Success

This course is the part of the online professional certificate program in Learning Differences and Neurodiversity (LDN) offered by Landmark College, with specializations in “Executive Function,” “Autism Online and on Campus,” or “Post-Secondary Disability Services” (coming Fall 2022).
How can we offer students learning opportunities that are not “one-size-fits-all”? This course explores how to leverage Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to create flexible, engaging, and effective eLearning solutions—whether through online, face-to-face, or blended instruction. Designed for technologically savvy and not-so-savvy educators, the course “walks-the-talk” and immerses participants in novel learning approaches as both the medium and the message. As a project-oriented course, participants choose an eLearning technology to explore and evaluate from the perspectives of diverse learners—and diverse educators—and share their findings using that technology. This course employs and models innovative, UDL-based eLearning approaches to maximize participants’ opportunity to master the learning objectives:
  • Varied Technologies—Instructors deploy a wide variety of common and emerging eLearning techniques and technologies throughout the course.
  • Active Digital Participation—Participants learn and demonstrate use of eLearning technologies as part of their assignment.
  • Persona Embodiment—Each participant identifies a distinct “persona,” representing a particular set of disabilities, challenges, learning characteristics, and/or skills, and participate in synchronous and asynchronous discussion from the perspective of this persona.

Three graduate credits will be awarded per course for students achieving a grade of 80% or greater.

This is an 8-week online course. Each week is a module that includes a variety of resources, readings, online discussions, and multimedia activities designed to engage participants in the course content. The course also includes 6 online synchronous sessions scheduled primarily in the evenings (Eastern Time). We will make every attempt to accommodate individual schedules, but participants should plan on attending at least 5 of the 6 synchronous sessions.

The course objectives align with professional standards in the field of LD, specifically the standards for special educators established by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). We have chosen to align to the “Advanced” set of Preparation Standards, as this higher-level set of standards more closely matches the level of content and expertise required of a graduate level course in the field. The CEC Advanced Preparation Standards are linked here, or can be found on the CEC’s website: www.cec.sped.org.

ObjectivesCEC Advanced Preparation Standards
Implement UD principles and UD guided practices using current and emerging technologies with a variety of course materials and teaching products, including handouts, readings, and assignments.2.0 (2.1-2.3), 3.1, 3.2, 3.3
Discuss the range of access issues from challenges to opportunities, for eLearning.2.3, 3.2, 3.5
Articulate a critical perspective on a wide range of information streams (e.g., texting, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest) and their use with students who learn differently.2.3, 4.1, 4.3
Investigate, assess, and catalog tools/services for teaching with technology, to support the development of a personal eLearning toolbox.3.4, 4.0, (4.1-4.3)
Develop an understanding of topical issues in educational technologies and learning differences addressing self-directed constructivist pedagogies.2.2, 2.3, 3.3,4.3
Evaluate your own professional development within the context of this course with respect to practical applications and lessons learned.3.5, 4.3, 5.0, 6.4, 6.5

Week/Module 
1• eLearning environments and application of universal design
2• Understanding the needs of diverse learners in eLearning: universal design and students with LD, ADHD, and autism
• Synchronous session Talk Time: TBD
3• Current and emerging practices in eLearning
• Synchronous session Talk Time: TBD
4• Leveraging synchronous tools to create effective, engaging virtual classrooms
• Synchronous session Talk Time: TBD
5• Deploying asynchronous tools to create and sustain learner communities
• Synchronous session Talk Time: TBD
6• Designing materials to support independent learning
• Synchronous session Talk Time
7• Adaptive learning
• Synchronous session Talk Time: TBD
8• Wrap-up

Details of the module format are as follows:

  • Engagement Activities [graded]—An engagement activity will be posed at the start of each module as a query or scenario to get us thinking about the topic as a group, and to help to create a community of learners by understanding each other’s perspectives and engaging in a discourse. You will post your own insights, observations, and respond to someone else’s post.
  • Objectives—Each module will start by articulating the objectives for that module. The objectives will list anticipated learning of the topics that will be addressed in each module.
  • Instructional Content—This is the instructional content to support the module topics. (Example: viewing/listening to presentation slides; readings, assignments, targeted website browsing, creating your own library of resources.)
  • Talk Time [graded] (select modules)—Talk Time is the synchronous meeting time for the course. During this time, we will address queries and points to ponder for discussion. These live discussions will be hosted via Canvas Conferencing tools. You will be able to link to discussions directly via Canvas.
  • Challenges [graded]—Challenges are activities meant to synthesize and apply what you have learned in each module to your specific educational environment.
  • Additional Resources and General Comments—A resource repository on universal design and technology will be created and added to by all members of this learning community. Recommendations to this forum is not graded, but regular contributions to this section can result in 5 extra grade points for the course.

A new module will be made available every Friday morning. Preceding module postings should be completed at the latest by Sunday evening.

The final course grade is determined by the following five categories of assignments.

  1. Persona Definition—During week two of the course you will choose a “persona” that you will represent throughout the course. This persona will be a fictionalized student with distinct learning needs and representing a unique combination of learning disabilities, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and/or general at-risk factors. You will be scored based on the quality of your definition of the persona. In addition, your scores on other components of the course will be impacted by how well you apply your persona’s perspective, as described below under each assignment description. In essence, we’re scoring your persona for showing up! (10 points; worth 4% of total grade (weighted))
  2. Engagement Activities—Each of the modules has a graded engagement activity. You will post an original response and at least one response to someone else’s comment. For full credit, your postings should follow the specified directions for responses and be posted by the end of the day Wednesday of that week’s module. You should plan on participating in all engagement activities. (8 in total; worth 24% of total grade (weighted))
  3. Talk Time—During Talk Time (synchronous meeting via video conferencing) we will discuss questions and comments presented by course participants and the instructor. In these sessions, we are looking for your active participation and thoughtful engagement. There will be 6 Talk Times in all; you should plan to participate in at least 5 of these synchronous sessions. (5 of 6 in total; worth 24% of total grade (weighted))
  4. Challenges—These assignments will follow each of the modules and require students to think critically about what they’ve learned in the module and apply it to a hypothetical, or real work/life situation. During the final three weeks of the course, the challenges consist of deep consideration of the technologies that your fellow participants are demonstrating and evaluating as their final project. (8 in total; worth 24% of total grade (weighted))
  5. Final Project: Technology Evaluation and Demonstration—This is the final project of the course and is intended to be relevant to your current or future professional role. This assignment requires you to evaluate an eLearning technology from the perspective of universal design and share your findings with the other participants using that technology. You will be provided with a list of candidate technologies to choose from; alternatively, in consultation with the course instructor you may choose another technology. This assignment is to be completed within the second half of the course, with the specific dates to be determined in consultation with the course instructor. (50 points; worth 24% of total grade (weighted))

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