Return to Online Learning

A colourful illustration depicting a webinar on desktop and laptop computers.As schools and tertiary institutions in parts of Australia return to online learning, making the experience workable, inclusive and meaningful for all students is at the forefront of many educators’ minds.

Online learning requires educators to be active and directive in facilitating learning. Setting guidelines and expectations up front is paramount to include and engage all students. Just as in the face-to-face environment, when we educate online, relationships are still at the heart of learning. Creating a presence in the online environment is a key element.

Katie Novack and Tom Thibodeau share ways to create an online presence in their book UDL in the Cloud. They also show how to identify potential barriers to learning, develop a detailed syllabus that inspires and motivates students, and delivery strategies and help to scaffold students’ time management skills.

Inclusive Schools Australia has done some of the preliminary thinking with a one-page quick-start guide to inclusive online learning. It gives examples of specific activities aligned to UDL checkpoints.

Then, to go deeper, Educause provides the transcript and slides of a webinar they hosted by CAST. It aims to support educators to reach all students in the time of COVID-19. The learning shares how UDL can be applied to remote instruction. It discusses some best practices and provides resources to integrate UDL into courses and programs.

This is valuable for considering ways to address access, build meaningful learning, and support independence in course or program design under the current conditions.

The National Center for Assistive Education Materials has a dedicated resource hub for information on assistive technologies. This is useful information on how to use assistive technologies or other resources to support learners to access online learning. The site hosts webinars focusing on tools and resources to support the transition to remote learning in response to COVID-19. The list of resources is extensive. Of particular value are the webinars on making accessible videos, captioning videos and making documents and slides accessible. Recordings, slides and handouts are available to watch or download.

Read more about UDL and online learning in a previous post.