Spring 2018 Teaching Effectiveness Institute


Universal Design for Learning: Beyond Accessibility

Thursday, January 11, 2018
8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. 
Sky Room, Holmes Student Center

by Tom Tobin, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Links to download session resources and handouts are available below


Universal Design for Learning, or UDL, promotes 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 your course design and teaching practices allows all learners to benefit, regardless of their place on the ability spectrum. In this workshop, you will actively engage in reflection and conversation to consider how you can adopt UDL to create learning interactions that provide benefits for all students and broaden our focus away from learners with disabilities and toward a larger framework that is inclusive of all learners. Specifically, you will be able to:

  • incorporate Universal Design for Learning (UDL) elements into your learning interactions (and help faculty and staff colleagues to do the same)
  • design/retrofit existing course components and interactions using UDL principles
  • expand your use of UDL elements beyond the legally-required minimum of accommodation

Thomas Tobin

Tom Tobin, Ph.D., is an independent faculty developer and professional consultant in State College, Pennsylvania and serves as the Conference Programming Chair at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is an internationally-recognized speaker and author on topics related to quality in distance 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.

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 article on "Best Practices for Administrative Evaluation of Online Faculty" (2004) is considered a seminal work in the field. He has recently authored Evaluating Online Teaching: Implementing Best Practices (Wiley, 2015) with Jean Mandernach and Ann H. Taylor, as well as a comic book on copyright titled The Copyright Ninja: Rise of the Ninja (St. Aubin Comics, 2017). He is currently working on books on Universal Design for Learning and alternative academic careers.

Tentative Agenda

Time Topic
8:30 a.m. Check-in, Refreshments, and Networking
8:55 a.m. Welcome
9:00 a.m. Program begins
10:15 a.m. Morning Refreshment Break
12:00 p.m. Wrap-up, Questions and Answers, Conclusion
Institute Evaluation


Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center


The following resources were shared by the presenter during the institute and are available for download:

Registration Information

This institute is open to NIU faculty, instructors, and SPS and Civil Service staff. Participants will receive institute materials and a certificate of participation. Due to the expensive nature of the institute and the advance notice needed for arranging food and materials, please register by the deadline and plan to attend the entire session. Advance registration is required.

Registration Deadline: Thursday, January 4, 2018. Online registration is closed. If you wish to register, please call 815-753-0595.

After you register, if you are unable to attend, please cancel your registration by Monday, January 8, 2018 at facdev.niu.edu/myprograms so that those on the waiting list can be given the opportunity to attend the institute and/or institute costs can be reduced.

Photo Credit: Beau Lebens

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions? View answers to commonly asked questions below.

open all close all

The Teaching Effectiveness Institute is open to all faculty and SPS/ Civil Service teaching staff at NIU.

The Teaching Effectiveness Institute is typically offered as a full-day workshop or two half-day workshops, centering on a teaching-related topic. We invite presenters who are well-known for their expertise and experiences in higher education teaching. The institute will engage faculty and provide material that will be immediately applicable in their teaching. The institute is geared toward those who are new to teaching as well as experienced faculty wanting to learn about new and exciting teaching topics.

Yes, if the presenter makes their handouts and presentation materials available electronically, we will make them available after the event. Contact the center at facdev@niu.edu for further information on receiving institute handouts.

It would be helpful to bring a pen and some paper or a small notebook to take notes. We want you to be relaxed and comfortable, so please dress casually. Bring a sweater or jacket in case of room temperature changes. Feel free to also bring any snacks or lunch if you have special dietary needs as the refreshments we provide may not meet your dietary needs.

There is no fee for attending the Teaching Effectiveness Institute; the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center offers the institute free of charge. However, it is expensive to provide the food, materials, AV, and presenter needs, not to mention the time our staff devotes to planning and executing the program. The center does not receive student fees or grants to fund the Teaching Effectiveness Institute and other programs. Therefore, we would appreciate that you attend the entire institute. If, after you register, you know that you will be unable to attend, please cancel by the deadline so that those on the waiting list can be given the opportunity to register and/or program expenses can be reduced.

If you have purchased a blue or red parking permit, the parking deck on Normal Road is the most convenient parking location since the Teaching Effectiveness Institute is held in the Holmes Student Center. If you do not have a parking permit, you can park in the visitor pay lot located on Carroll Avenue for a daily fee. Click here to view a map of all parking lots at NIU's DeKalb campus. For more information, visit the Campus Parking Services website.

The institute includes morning refreshments, including a continental breakfast, coffee, tea, and juice. Refreshments at our programs are provided as a courtesy and as our budget allows. Therefore, food choices may or may not meet your particular dietary needs -- you are welcome to bring any special snacks or lunch. 

We understand that the week before classes is busy for many faculty. We encourage you to attend as much of the Teaching Effectiveness Institute as possible, but you may leave if you have other commitments.

Last Updated: 1/11/2018