Dr. Kim Floyd of CEHS’ Department of Special Education, and Dr. Neal Shambaugh of the Department of Learning Sciences and Human Development, are no strangers to collaboration. The pair has worked together to write two textbook chapters, one of which was recently published.
Their newest chapter, included in the Handbook of Research on Digital Content, Mobile Learning, And Technology Integration Models in Teacher Education, is called “Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines for Mobile Devices and Technology Integration in Teacher Education.” The section discusses how classroom technology can be used to support all students, and more specifically, how educators can integrate mobile devices into their classrooms to engage a diverse range of learners.
“Neal and I both have a passion for reaching and connecting with students,” Floyd said. “We both feel that every student can be successful when given the support he or she needs. There is a great deal of work that goes on behind the scenes for classroom teachers and we wanted to highlight a way that would support their success, thus supporting the success of the K-12 learners in their charge.”
For Floyd and Shambaugh, the process of collaborating on the chapter was as much an opportunity to learn from one another as it was to share their expertise. Floyd’s background in assistive and educational technology and Shambaugh’s extensive knowledge of instructional design have made for a mutually beneficial partnership.
“Kim teaches numerous courses and I try to help her document what she does through my lens of instructional design and to assist in the writing process,” Shambaugh said. “As co-author, I’m really learning from her.”
“With our backgrounds being different, the chapter became fresh and new learning for each of us,” Floyd added. “There were times when I truly relied on his expertise, and vice versa.”
In their work, Floyd and Shambaugh have studied the concept of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), which encourages classroom teachers to create environments that allow learning opportunities for all students. According to Shambaugh, UDL has traditionally been applied to special education classrooms, but the practice can be used in any classroom setting.
“UDL is really something for all educators to think about –developmentally appropriate education taking into account the needs of each person, along with the nature of the content to be learned, and the reality of the learning setting,” Shambaugh said.
Beyond its application in the classroom, UDL has a more personal significance for Floyd as the mother of a son with special needs. Floyd’s son, Kolby, has benefitted greatly from teachers who have implemented UDL in their classrooms, reinforcing Floyd’s belief in UDL’s potential. Furthermore, Floyd’s partnership with Shambaugh has helped her to understand ways she could support Kolby.
“After he met my son, Neal became very intrigued by how Kolby could be so successful in one environment but struggle significantly in another,” Floyd said. “The dialogues we had as friends about my son’s struggles really helped to break down the issues in a structured way, focusing on different aspects of the environment. We realized that together we had a great deal to say about the power of the learning environment and lesson planning to support all students, those diagnosed with challenges and those without.”
Floyd and Shambaugh’s recent publications are not the end of their collaborative partnership; the two hope to continue their work with UDL to get more educators engaged with the concept.
“I could see us editing an entire book on how others have implemented UDL in teacher education and in public schools,” Shambaugh said. “UDL is an important topic that we would like to see in front of educators more than it is now.”