LUDIA: Supporting the Implementation of UDL

Tuesday, July 2, 2024 No comments

Meet LUDIA: Your AI-Powered Universal Design for Learning Partner
Hi everyone! I am curious if you have explored LUDIA, the AI-powered Universal Design for Learning (UDL) assistant. LUDIA is a specialized chatbot on the Poe platform designed to provide suggestions for making lessons more accessible, offer strategies to address common learning challenges, and even give examples of integrating those ideas into your course designs and teaching.

If you have used LUDIA:

  • What was your experience like?
  • Did you find its suggestions helpful for your teaching or design practice?
  • How does it compare to other AI tools you have used for lesson planning or UDL implementation?
For those who haven't tried it yet, what are your thoughts on using AI to support UDL in your courses or trainings/workshops? Do you see potential benefits or have any concerns? 

Feel free to share your thoughts = )

Guidelines for Integrating New Technologies in STEM Courses

Thursday, June 6, 2024 No comments
As you know, the field of education is constantly evolving. As educators, it is important that we stay informed and continuously strive to develop high-quality courses that provide students with the knowledge and tools they need for successful careers. New technologies offer exciting opportunities to enhance learning and engage students in innovative ways. However, successfully integrating these technologies requires more than just following the latest trends; it means we need to do some thoughtful planning and have a strategic approach to integrating these new technologies. 

STEM word cloud

Here are key guidelines to assist educators in seamlessly integrating new technologies into their STEM courses, fostering enriched learning experiences for all. By adhering to these principles, educators can effectively incorporate innovative tools, cultivating an enriched learning environment that equips students for the challenges of today's world. 
  • Align with Learning Objectives
  • Ensure Accessibility and Equity
  • Evaluate Available Technologies
  • Explore Open Educational Resources (OER)
  • Start Strategically
  • Encourage Continuous Learning through Professional Development
  • Provide Comprehensive Support
  • Encourage Active Learning
  • Assess Impact and Effectiveness
  • Engage in Collaborative Community Partnerships
  • Facilitate Collaboration

Let's start by breaking down ea
ch guideline to understand how it can be implemented effectively.

Align with Learning Objectives

When integrating new technologies, ensure they directly support your course's learning outcomes. The chosen technology should enhance students' understanding of STEM concepts and help them achieve educational goals. For example, if your goal is to improve problem-solving skills, consider using simulation software or interactive coding platforms.

Ensure Accessibility and Equity

Select technologies that are accessible to all students, including those with disabilities. Consider the compatibility of the technology with assistive devices and provide alternative access methods when necessary. Promoting an inclusive learning environment ensures that all students can benefit from the new tools and have the opportunity to succeed.

Evaluate Available Technologies

Given the expanding list of educational technologies, it is essential to thoroughly evaluate their relevance to your curriculum, ease of integration, cost, and potential impact on student engagement and learning outcomes. Before integrating new technology, research whether it is a supported tool for your campus or if it will require additional paperwork to include it as needing internal support. If possible, conduct pilot tests and gather feedback from students to identify the best fit for your course.

Explore Open Educational Resources (OER)

Make use of accessible OER, open-source software, and online resources to supplement your course materials. These resources can significantly reduce student costs while providing high-quality educational content. Open textbooks, multimedia content, and online courses can enhance the learning experience without adding a financial burden.

Start Strategically

Begin the integration process with a focused approach, introducing one or two technologies that closely align with your course outcomes. This allows both instructors and students to gradually become familiar with the new tools, minimizing the risk of overwhelming them. As confidence and proficiency grow, you can expand the integration to include additional technologies.

Encourage Continuous Learning through Professional Development

Actively engage in professional development opportunities, both internal and external, to enhance your understanding and proficiency in utilizing new technologies. Workshops, webinars, and courses on the latest educational technologies can provide valuable insights and practical skills that improve teaching effectiveness.

Provide Comprehensive Support

To ensure students can use the new technologies effectively, provide training resources such as tutorials, help guides, and hands-on training sessions. Establishing opportunities for ongoing support, like help desks or online forums, can help address questions and challenges as they arise, ensuring a smoother learning experience.

Encourage Active Learning

Utilize technologies that promote active learning and student engagement. Incorporating interactive simulations, collaborative platforms, and multimedia resources can create a more engaging and interactive learning experience. These tools encourage students to apply concepts in real-world scenarios, fostering deeper understanding and retention.

Facilitate Collaboration

Incorporate technologies that facilitate student collaboration. Tools like online discussion boards, group project platforms, and virtual labs can encourage teamwork, peer learning, and exchanging ideas. Collaborative learning environments help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills while building a sense of community.

Assess Impact and Effectiveness

Continuously evaluate the impact of technology integration on student learning and engagement. Collect feedback from students and instructors to gauge the tools' effectiveness and identify areas for improvement. This ongoing assessment helps inform future decisions and ensures the technology remains a valuable asset in the educational process.

Engage in Collaborative Community Partnerships

Engage with colleagues, online communities, and professional networks to share best practices, resources, and funding opportunities for technology integration in STEM education. Pursuing grant opportunities and collaborating with other campuses can enhance the scope and impact of technology integration efforts. These partnerships foster a network for ongoing support and innovation, contributing to the overall advancement of STEM education.

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Your Turn

What strategies do you plan to use to ensure that integrating new technologies in STEM courses effectively aligns with your course's learning outcomes, fosters student comprehension, and provides a high-quality learning experience?

The Power of Choice: Transforming Education with Choice Boards and Learning Menus

Friday, April 12, 2024 No comments

Today, I want to talk about something I am truly passionate about: choice boards and learning menus. If you are thinking, "Kristen, is there anything you are not passionate about?" Well, the truth is, I love everything about education and learning! If you haven’t already incorporated these into your teaching toolkit, you’re missing out on something truly special.

So, what are choice boards and learning menus? They are like a menu at your favorite restaurant, but instead of choosing between appetizers and entrees, students get to choose how they want to learn and demonstrate their understanding of a topic. It’s all about giving them the power to choose their own adventure in learning.

Digital Choice Board Instructions

Why do I love them so much? Well, for starters, they make learning fun. When students have the freedom to explore topics that interest them, engagement is high. Plus, they are still mastering those essential skills and concepts—it’s a win-win!

Digital Choice Board Example

But the benefits don’t stop there. Choice boards and learning menus also allow for differentiation, ensuring that every student’s needs are met. Whether it is catering to different learning styles or providing options for varying levels of difficulty, everyone can find something that works for them.

Digital Choice Board Activity Example

Check out this neat idea of using a Learning Menu from the Traveloteacher in which they
break down the activity, providing instructions and examples to ensure students understands how to engage with the Learning Menu effectively.
menu image

The topic of the learning menu is tackling plastic pollution. It contains three sections - Appetizer, Main Course, and Desert, each consisting of three tasks.

The tasks in the Appetizer section are compulsory - students have to complete all of them. In the Main Course section students can choose one task they want to work on. 

The Desert section is optional, however, the activities in this section are simply irresistible and students will most likely be happy to do them.

You can download the learning menu to see how it is being utilized with students. 

Next Steps

So, if you are looking to "jazz up" your learning materials and empower your students, consider integrating choice boards and learning menus into your teaching practice. Trust me, once you see the impact they can have, you will wonder how you ever taught without them. For additional inspiration and ideas, be sure to visit the listed websites for resources and examples to get you started.

  1. How to Use a Digital Choice Board in Your Class
  2. Using Choice Boards for Students to Differentiate Instruction
  3. Digital Choice Board Examples
  4. Digital Choice Boards for Science
  5. Free Digital Choice Board Templates for All Grades
  6. Digital Choice Boards and Interactive Learning Materials for Teachers and Students
  7. Digital Choice Boards

And if you are interested in taking this concept beyond the classroom and into teacher professional development, check out "Teacher PD Choice Boards, Learning Menus, and Playlists". There, you will find innovative ways to engage educators in their own learning journey through these dynamic tools.

Here’s to the power of choice and the endless possibilities it brings to education. Let’s give our students the freedom to learn and grow in their own unique way. Happy Teaching!

Elevating Online Education: A Journey of Passion and Purpose

Tuesday, April 9, 2024 No comments

As an advocate for quality online education, I have found so much joy in collaborating with faculty to develop courses that meet academic standards and engage and empower students. Every step of the process, from the initial brainstorming sessions to celebrating the completion of a course, fills me with enthusiasm and purpose.

My job is more than just a job; it is a deeply fulfilling calling. Working with faculty to create high-quality online courses extends beyond fulfilling professional obligations; it involves building meaningful connections, fostering collaboration, and positively impacting students' learning journey. It is a passion that fuels my every effort, bringing joy, satisfaction, and a profound sense of purpose to my work.

Getting to Know Faculty

Building relationships with faculty members is one of the most crucial aspects of my job. Understanding their teaching styles, passions, and concerns fosters empathy and leads to more effective collaboration. By nurturing open communication and trust, we can work together to design courses that resonate with the faculty's vision and the student's needs. I find joy in taking the time to truly get to know them on a personal level, beyond their academic expertise. This understanding of their interests, passions, and what makes them unique adds a layer of depth to our partnership.

I have had the pleasure of learning about faculty members' families, hobbies, and even their favorite treats. From faculty with grandchildren living across the country that they dearly miss to those with a soft spot for fostering animals in need, or even taking joy in sharing stories about their beloved pets. These personal insights allow us to connect on a deeper level and foster a sense of mutual support. In my experience, discovering shared interests, such as a love for Reese's peanut butter cups or a great appreciation for the taste of the Zeros: Coke Zero and Dr. Pepper Zero, can spark lively conversations and further strengthen our bond. By acknowledging these personal preferences and incorporating them into our interactions, we demonstrate a genuine interest in the faculty members as individuals, not just as colleagues.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of dedicating time to understanding faculty members and their lives outside academia. This practice fosters a supportive and empathetic environment that promotes collaborative success. These personal connections are what make our work not only fulfilling but also deeply rewarding on a human level.

Empathy in Design

Empathy is at the heart of effective course design. Recognizing faculty and students' challenges in the online learning environment enables us to create solutions to promote success. Whether providing additional resources, adjusting timelines, or offering support, empathy ensures that everyone involved feels valued and supported throughout the process.

Patience and Problem-Solving

In the world of education, delays and setbacks are sometimes unavoidable. Faculty members wear many hats and work hard to balance their various responsibilities. Patience and resilience are key qualities when navigating these challenges. We can maintain positive relationships with faculty while working together to overcome obstacles by remaining patient and understanding. Taking a proactive approach to problem-solving ensures that courses stay on track or can get back on track, and deadlines are met without compromising quality.

Building Engaging Content

Collaborating with faculty to incorporate interactive elements, multimedia resources, and experiential learning activities adds depth and richness to the online learning experience. While seeing students actively engage with the material and flourish in their learning it's not solely about academic concepts. It's also about ensuring that students not only grasp academic concepts but also develop the essential career readiness skills they need to succeed in the workforce. By designing courses that integrate real-world scenarios, problem-solving exercises, and industry-relevant projects, we aim to equip students with the practical skills and knowledge necessary for success in their future careers. Whether it's fostering teamwork and communication through group projects or cultivating critical thinking and adaptability through hands-on simulations, our goal is to empower students to excel in the workplace and make meaningful contributions to their fields.

Embracing Creativity and Innovation

The journey of creating online courses is a creative endeavor. It involves thinking outside the box, experimenting with new ideas, and pushing the boundaries of traditional education. By embracing creativity and innovation, we can design courses that not only inspire curiosity but also foster critical thinking, ultimately transforming the learning experience for students.

I have had the pleasure of collaborating with many faculty members who are eager to innovate and explore new approaches to ensure they provide a high-quality learning experience for students. Whether through scenarios, simulations, virtual reality, 3D modeling, virtual labs, or interactive elements, they are dedicated to pushing the boundaries of online education and engaging students in dynamic ways.

Celebrating Milestones

Every milestone, big or small, deserves to be celebrated. Whether it's completing a module, receiving positive feedback from students, or launching a course successfully, each achievement represents the collective effort and dedication of everyone involved. Taking the time to acknowledge these milestones boosts morale and reinforces the importance of the work being done.

Pride in Completion

As a course reaches its completion, there is a sense of pride and accomplishment that fills the air. Faculty members pour their hearts and souls into designing courses that reflect their expertise and passion for teaching. Recognizing and celebrating their hard work and dedication is essential, ensuring that they feel appreciated and valued for their contributions.

Concluding Thoughts

I am blessed that my life journey has taken me on a road that brings me happiness each day, and I am thankful for every person I have worked with since the first day I decided to go into education. Working with faculty to create online courses is more than just a job—a passion and a calling. From the initial consultation to the final launch, every step of the process is infused with dedication, empathy, and creativity. By celebrating both the journey and the destination, we can continue to elevate the standards of online education and empower students to succeed in their academic pursuits.

As I wrap up my post, I want to acknowledge the faculty members who have gone on the design and development journey and have successfully reached the finish line. Whether I have had the pleasure of working with you in the past or will collaborate with you in the future, please know that I will always be your greatest supporter and cheerleader.

Empathy at the Heart of Course Design

Monday, August 28, 2023 No comments
put yourself in their shoes
As a learning experience designer, I work with faculty every day. My favorite part of the job is meeting new people and learning from them. Through my work, I have met many people, and many of them have become lifelong friends. To say I love my job is an understatement.

As a former teacher turned learning experience designer, I am passionate about creating innovative and engaging learning experiences for students. 
Building an online course requires more than just technical expertise and content knowledge. It also requires empathy towards the instructors who will be developing and delivering the courses. Empathy plays a crucial role in understanding their needs, challenges, and goals. 

Why does empathy matter?

Having empathy is like the magic ingredient for setting up a positive and supportive learning vibe. When you take the time to listen to instructors and see their vision, you can design courses that foster strong bonds between them and their students. This connection has the power to boost engagement, motivation, and student success, big time.

Online teaching presents unique challenges for instructors. But when you put yourself in their shoes, you can spot those challenges and handle them like a pro. To help with challenges you could offer resources, training, and support to assist instructors in navigating the online learning environment.

Empathy encourages open communication and collaboration between course designers and instructors. When you really listen to what instructors are saying, you can make their ideas happen, guarantee course success, and mold the student learning journey.

How can having empathy impact course design?

Empathy is the driving force behind course design and development. It helps designers truly get where instructors are coming from, so they can create course materials that resonate with students. This means tailoring things to suit, encouraging teamwork, supporting instructors' well-being, and making those instructor-student connections thrive.

When empathy takes the lead, courses become more than just lessons. They turn into spaces where instructors and students click, everyone's there for one another, and learning feels like a real success. When you weave empathy into the course design process, designers can help build courses that truly amp up the learning experience for students.

red heart


Empathy is a big deal and the heart of course design because it helps us really get where others are coming from. It is like a magnet that pulls people together, making communication and teamwork smoother.

When empathy takes the lead in the design process, it transforms the way you create courses. You create a course that hits home for both instructors and students, which makes for a high-quality learning experience. WIN WIN for ALL!