Creating communities of practice: learning from a UDL project to engage students with academic reading

Michelle Malamo (School of Education) and Dr Sarah Pittaway (Library and Information Services), University of Worcester

This session builds on ongoing research conducted between the School of Education and Library Services. The first stage of our research took a technological, solution-oriented approach where we embedded accessibility tools, into module Resource Lists. Inspired by Universal Design for Learning (UDL) we sought to remove what we saw as environmental barriers and to create options for multi-modal reading that would open out reading opportunities.

In practice, we found that although the environmental barrier was removed, a more challenging attitudinal barrier was thrown up in its place, namely teaching staff’s lack of confidence in their digital capabilities. This session will reflect on how these attitudes can be framed by the ‘fortress of academia’ and how a UDL approach can help challenge this and contribute to research-informed teaching. Using case studies, it will also demonstrate that UDL is not always centred exclusively on the student, but on the communities of practice around the learner. To learn more about this project, view the video below.