Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone with Universal Design for Learning

Join internationally-recognized speaker and author Dr. Tom Tobin for practical use-them-tomorrow strategies to increase student access to learning—without having to change what or how you teach.

Date & Time:

Tuesday, October 16, 2018
11:45 AM - 1:15 PM


St. Paul Campus: McNeely Hall, room 100
Lunch will be provided.

Dr. Thomas J. Tobin


Dr. Thomas J. Tobin

About the Workshop

This interactive workshop radically reflects on how faculty members and course designers can adopt the Universal Design for Learning framework in order to create learning interactions that:

  • provide students with better access to learning;
  • offer learners more time for study and practice in their busy days;
  • save faculty members time and effort in the bargain

This workshop uses active-learning techniques and provides take-away resources for participants to re-frame accessibility and inclusion conversations. You will learn practical use-them-tomorrow strategies for increasing student access to learning—without having to change what or how you teach.

“Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone” is structured as two sessions with breaks in between, each of which scaffolds to build on the ideas and skills from the previous learning. This workshop posits diversity in its most inclusive form: instead of relying solely on providing accommodation services to learners with disabilities—which is most often a last-minute, ad-hoc, reactive process—adopting UDL as part of an institution’s culture of course design, teaching practices, and support services allows all learners to benefit, regardless of their place on the ability spectrum. 

In the first part of our workshop, we will talk about what UDL is (and isn’t), and how a simple mental shift can help us to reach out to our learners and give them just 20 more minutes for study and interaction in their busy days. You will learn what Universal Design for Learning is all about, especially as newly revised for higher education (CAST, 2014). You will discover how to implement UDL in the design of your course and service interactions, creating spaces for best teaching and support practices to take place—in the classroom and beyond. This is best accomplished through an incremental approach, using a “next 20” series of milestones—achievements that can be attained in the next 20 minutes, 20 days, and 20 months (Tobin, 2014).  

In the second part of our workshop, we will examine the linked concepts of learner variability and construct relevance. From cultural and linguistic proficiencies, to unbridled enthusiasm for study, to anxiety about the challenges ahead, students vary. Reducing cognitive, linguistic, executive, and affective barriers is of vital importance as students negotiate university expectations differently, according to their widely ranging background experiences. 

You will leave the workshop with practical, hands-on strategies for expanding learner access and increasing student persistence, retention, and satisfaction—an outcome for which we have 30 years of evidence-based practice and research.

About the Presenter

Thomas J. Tobin is the Director of Curriculum and Programming for the Distance Education Professional Development department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as an internationally-recognized speaker and author on topics related to quality in technology-enhanced education, especially copyright, evaluation of teaching practice, academic integrity, and accessibility/universal design for learning.

Since the advent of online courses in higher education in the late 1990s, Tom’s work has focused on using technology to extend the reach of higher education beyond its traditional audience. He advocates for the educational rights of people with disabilities and people from disadvantaged backgrounds.Before joining UW-Madison, Tobin spent seven years in the Learning and Development arm of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, and then served for five years as the Coordinator of Learning Technologies in the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.

He holds a Ph.D. in English literature, a second master’s degree in information science, a professional project management certification, a master online teacher certification, and recently completed his Quality Matters reviewer certification (he tells his nieces and nephews that he is in 41st Grade).

Tom serves on the editorial boards of eLearn Magazine, InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching, the Journal of Interactive Online Learning, and the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration.

His books include

  • Evaluating Online Teaching: Implementing Best Practices (2015) with Jean Mandernach and Ann H. Taylor.
  • The Copyright Ninja: Rise of the Ninja (2017).
  • Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education (2018) with Kirsten Behling.
  • Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers (in press, 2019) with Katie Linder and Kevin Kelly.

Tom was also proud to represent the United States on a Spring 2018 Fulbright Scholar fellowship, under which he helped Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary to develop its first faculty-development program, and he provided workshops and training to six other universities throughout Hungary.

To make an accessibility request, call Disability Resources at (651) 962-6315.