2014 OAI Innovation in Teaching Award Winner Dr. Elizabeth Berquist


I have noticed in my six years at Towson that
we definitely have learner variability in our classrooms. We have students that have
all sorts of abilities and I want to try to tap into those. And what looks like success
to one student might be very different for another so the UDL framework provides faculty
members in higher education with the flexibility to offer multiple means of representation,
action and expression and engagement for their students. On a more academic level, I really
want to push my students to do things differently. When I went to college I had a phenomenal
experience. Many of my products were paper based, though. And now, we do have traditional
research paper we do write traditional lesson plans but those products were really preparing
us for the way that life was 15 years ago. Now, our world is really different. I want
my students to be able to solve problems, I want them to be able to collaborate, I want
them to be able to work together, I want them to understand that there are thousands of
emerging technologies out there that they can use to show what they know in ways that
are much more powerful then what we traditionally expect in the classroom. We need to harness
what we know about affect strategic networks, recognition networks, and we need to apply
that knowledge of the way people learn to our classrooms. It doesn’t matter if you are
in the college of Education, Business, Health Sciences. Anyone can use that UDL framework
and think about their instruction with a very different lens. It’s bigger than a lesson
plan, its bigger than a unit. Its about looking at your entire learning environment, and seeing
what options you’ve put in from the beginning to support your students. We talk about 21st
Century learners, we talk about the power of collaboration. So if we are asking students
to solve a problem in our class, why do they have to answer that problem in a traditional
research paper? Lets have them build a website, lets have them build a wiki, lets have them
use screen capture to create some digital content, to go along with the written content
because that is a lot more powerful and its a lot richer, and it gives students different
ways to shine and that cuts across every discipline. Its not about fixing students anymore. Its
about fixing our curriculum to fit the needs of our students.

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