The challenge: To train educators on UDL and inspire transformation in higher education

A George Brown College team, led by Ravinder Brar (now Director, Education and Partnerships at Say Yeah), approached us to discuss how we could help them design and deliver a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) certificate program.

The certificate aimed to build UDL capacity at scale across Ontario institutions through the lens of change management and ultimately build a sustainable community of practice.

The team had robust course material ready; the unique challenge they faced was translating that material into a course that was accessible, flexible, and highly engaging for all participants—and could be accessed by learners at different institutions.

They were looking for a partner to help them push beyond the limits of most professional development training programs through a combination of tech and eLearning expertise. We were happy to help!

The Say Yeah approach: Enabling UDL training at scale

To accomplish GBC’s goals and meet its requirements, we designed and delivered the following solutions:

  • a custom course platform to fulfill GBC’s training goals and ensure the course was portable and shareable across Ontario institutions
  • UX-led integrations to craft an accessible and engaging learning experience for course participants
  • project management, planning, and coordination to support and leverage the work of a team of content creators, instructional designers, editors, technologists, and other stakeholders

Let’s look at each solution more closely.

Custom course platform

The platform we designed allows for integration with a variety of learning management systems (LMSs), ensuring course adaptability and portability across Ontario institutions. The intuitive and lightweight content management system enables instructional designers, educators, and content managers to make course modifications and seamlessly manage edits and updates without coding experience.

We collaborated with the GBC team to co-create custom course assets and modules to explore and practice the UDL principles of Engagement, Representation, and Action & Expression as stipulated by the UDL training model.

Building a custom platform ensured we were able to retain the broad course material and enhance the existing community of practice.

UX-led integrations

Our aim was to facilitate full access to content for all users in a variety of formats to promote choice and agency. We utilized web-standards-based and custom code to allow learners to personalize the course, and make it more accessible, portable, and manageable.

The intuitive interface was designed to help learners easily navigate course modules and activities across multiple device screens.

Tools and additional resources like worksheets, references, PDFs, and accessible interactions and assessments were introduced to keep learners engaged and extend their learning beyond the course platform.

By incorporating features such as text, images, quotes, videos, callouts, and activities in multiple formats, we expanded the program in ways that improved accessibility, engagement, and fulfillment of learning outcomes.

Let’s look at a few of these features more closely.

Course feature highlights

Library and glossary

The reference library and glossary of terms allows learners to find and filter source material used throughout the course based on key lenses such as accessibility, antiracism, curriculum design, and more, while offering on-demand access to resources and key terms as they work to apply UDL in their day-to-day.

Assessments and interactions

We incorporated flip cards, quizzes, and scenario-based assessments to enable course participants to put their learning into practice, demonstrate their understanding of learning outcomes, recall information, and build confidence in their learning progress.

The hotspot widget

The hotspot widget was developed to allow users to explore perspectives from past participants of the course. This widget was designed with accessibility in mind, allowing course participants to navigate by mouse, touch, keyboard, or screen readers.

Project-management and coordinating a diverse and engaged set of stakeholders

Through regular communication, sharing collaboration, and an intuitive content management interface, we supported the work of team members responsible for instructional design, subject-matter expertise, and content management to help them navigate the process of creating an accessible, interactive online course successfully and with confidence.

We also reduced risk and concerns by prioritizing open communication and support in shaping the course structure, interactions, assessments, and overall course delivery.

“Throughout the entire process, Say Yeah’s full-service support provided exceptional project management support, guiding us seamlessly and transparently through each step.”

~ Mandy Bonisteel, George Brown College

Outcome: a new educational standard-of-practice across Ontario

The course, established through a combination of curriculum planning and instructional design, has led to the adoption of UDL practices across numerous institutions, including George Brown College, Centennial College, Northern College, and many more.

The project’s objective to upskill employees and empower them with the tools required to design accessible and inclusive learning environments has been realized through a combination of best practices, including:

  • a digital playbook to enable participants to leverage and incorporate the UDL principles, equity, and inclusivity in their everyday work
  • facilitated learning through a structured course program and access to subject-matter expertise
  • establishing a community of practice across each training cohort to bridge theory to practice and facilitate peer-to-peer learning

The collaborative effort of the George Brown College team, Say Yeah, and our funder, eCampusOntario, was instrumental in positioning UDL as the higher education standard in Ontario and beyond.

Do you have a learning and development challenge or opportunity?

Let’s talk about how your organization can transform its professional development programs and offerings, and turn training into a competitive advantage.