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UDL theory into practice: Sinéad Wall

We asked our faculty and staff at the University of Limerick to give us examples of how they have implemented Universal Design for Learning (UDL). In this example, Sinéad Wall, Instructional Designer UL@Work discusses how she created an animated video to help learners at the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board understand a research assignment. 

Summary:

I created a three-minute animated video using Animaker for a Communications QQI Level 5 module to help learners to understand what research is and get excited about doing their own research for their structured report assignment. The three other members of my UDL peer group also worked on different aspects of this module including giving an alternative way of presenting the research, a guided document for working through each stage of the project, and a glossary of helpful terms.    

UDL principles used

✓ Multiple means of engagement

What motivated the change?   

Feedback from learners and other teaching staff showed that learners found a compulsory research project very challenging as most learners had never done their own research before and didn’t feel the project was relevant to their course and struggled to find a topic that interested them. 

Screenshot from an instructional video on 'What is Research?' depicting a woman waving at the viewer
Screenshot from Sinéad's animated video

Which UDL principles I met

Multiple means of engagement 

The main principle I wanted to focus on was multiple means of engagement as I felt it was important for the learners to engage with the project and see how it is relevant to their programme and profession. My aim was to recruit interest in the assignment, and I hoped that the video resource would motivate learners. 

  • 7.2 Optimise relevancy, value and authenticity. The video is based on a character that learners should relate to and it should feel authentic to them. She doesn’t know where to start with her assignment but as she starts to understand what she needs to do she gets more excited and works through some interesting ideas for her research question.  
  • 7.3 Minimise threats and distractions. I was very conscious of keeping the animation simple and not distracting from the main message of the resource. There is no background music or spinning animations. There is no extraneous information. The video is a supportive resource that teachers can use as part of their class and learners can revisit in their own time. 
  • 2.5 Illustrate through multiple media. The simple animation with voiceover and minimal text follows through each step of choosing a topic and developing a research question. It was hosted in MS Stream so captions and a transcript are available. 
  • 3.3 Guiding information processing and visualisation. The information is contextualised and chunked into small pieces through the scenes in the animation with one example used throughout. 

What was the result?   

Feedback was gathered through a questionnaire with two small classes and was very positive. Learners felt: 

  • The video was very supportive 
  • The example of developing a research question was helpful 
  • It was useful to revisit 
  • The pace was good and it wasn’t overloaded with information 

The transcript in Stream was very useful to two learners as English wasn’t their first language. 

Other teaching staff liked using the video as part of their classes and it was included in a learner support resource page. 

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