Universal to Personal: Teaching with universal design for learning in heart & mind – Dr. David Rose


Dr David Rose:
So the talk has two parts. I know it’s a very mixed audience. So the first part is sort
of generally an introduction to Universal Design for Learning. For some of you, you
already know this, you may know more about it than I do and I apologize for that, but
some people are relatively new. So I wanted to just give that background and I’ll probably
go on too long with that because I get excited about it. And then I’d like to talk about
my own teaching and how I both succeed and fail in making UDL work in my own classrooms. Okay, so there are two major foundations for
Universal Design for Learning and both of them, at least indirectly, come from what
new technologies allow. First, new technologies have transformed our ability to do neuroscience,
to understand the human brain, that’s one of the things, and the second is new technologies
allow us to teach in different ways, we don’t have to use the traditional lecture/textbook
format as we probably heard today and yesterday. So those two things, advances in our understanding
of human learning and in particular, its diversity and advances in our ability to use new technologies
for teaching are what goes together to make UDL in ways that I’ll talk about. So I first want to talk about the neuroscience
stuff and you’ve all seen images like this that are gorgeous. They allow us to see the
nervous system again in ways that we never saw. You probably – you may have heard this
word in the press: The Connectome: And what has become a central
focus of neuroscience research of late is studying the connections, what’s connected
to what in the nervous system and that’s called the connectome and it’s meant to be
an analogue to the genome, and that is looking for the fundamental ways in which your nervous
system is different than someone else is different and it turns out to be that it’s the connections
that are made that are the critical difference. It’s not how many neurons you have, there
are other animals that even have more neurons than you do. It’s the way in which our brains
are connected that makes us special and that differs amongst us as well as we’ll talk
a little bit about. So the connectome is that – this is a connectome,
a human connectome. We can see them now and look at those differences and start to understand
how are people different from one another and that’s the critical first thing is,
the more neuroscientists look at the connectome, the more they go … “Whoa, they’re not
exactly alike” … they’re in general alike, but they’re at least as different
as our fingerprints are. It’s very easy if you could see someone’s connectome and
say … “Okay, that’s not Billy’s connectome, that’s yours. So we’re all different in
the fundamental way in which our brains are connected which is the most important thing. Today, because we do this in UDL, I’m going
to talk about three parts to the connectome and just go a little bit into what these three
parts do. So the first part is the back part of your cortex so this is the brain, this
is the front, that’s the back, all of this part really does one thing, the nervous system
is a lot simpler than people sometimes make it out to be. So the back part does one thing
which is it takes information in from the outside world and makes sense of it, makes
usable knowledge out of it. So as you probably know, there’s visual cortex here, somatosensory
cortex here, auditory cortex here, all of these are the great parts of your brain that
take information in from your senses, but all of this cortex is what you use to make
sense of, what you pick up with your ears, your eyes, your nose, your throat and so on. Next part of the brain, the front part of
the brain is very different, looks different, it’s connected different, it’s connected
down – ultimately connected to motor systems. So this part allows you to plan, execute and
monitor your actions on the environment. A key thing is that this is part of your brain
that checks … “Did I do what I meant to do?” It’s a very goal driven system, but
this part of your brain is about taking action on the world. And then the third part which I’ll end with,
which actually has got the – right now, has the most heat, the most study is going
on, at least in the higher parts of neuroscience which are at the core of your brain, the centre
which we can’t see very well in this image, the parts of the brain that allow you to evaluate
and set priorities for attention and action. So these are the parts that you hear about
in things like motivation or emotion and things like that, not about taking information in,
not about expressing it, but evaluating. Is this important to me? Is this something fearful?
Is this something exciting? Is this something boring? The middle parts of your nervous system
do that for you and we’ll come back a little bit to these. So the first one: Recognition networks we
call them in the UDL framework, all of these parts, they allow you to recognize the outside
world, make sense of it and act smartly. So – and I’ve done this – some of you
may have seen videos and stuff so I apologize, but a kind of a quick way to start. I want
to look at this part of recognition cortex which is, some of you will recognize … ‘Oh,
that’s about where auditory cortex is’ …so this is the part where ultimately the
information, the little signals from your ear finally come here to be made analyzed,
to be made sense of. And I’m going to introduce you to my wife, Ruth, who’s here, we’re
actually going to enjoy Dublin once I get through this talk. So that’s Ruth. Ruth’s
the one on the right. [Laughter] Ruth is – got a different connectome than
mine. She has what’s called perfect pitch, is there anyone here that has perfect pitch?
It’s fairly rare, but it’s not – we need to select a better population, we should have
at least one or two here, and sometimes people are shy because they’re afraid I’ll ask
them to sing. But anyway, perfect pitch, I think you probably know what it means, it
means that any note that anybody plays, it doesn’t matter what instrument, if it beats
at 440, Ruth knows it’s an A and just says an A and it’s not hard for her, she doesn’t
have to think about it, it’s just like you recognizing the colour red. You don’t have
to do much thinking about it. So for Ruth, anybody that plays a note, she
says B flat, okay, and she’s never wrong etc. Okay. So she has perfect pitch. I’m not
like Ruth in that, I know high and low and I’ve had a lot of musical, you know, took
piano, a lot of trumpet, this we’ll talk about later, so I can recognize a pitch is
higher than another one easily and that’s called relative pitch. Most of you have relative
pitch, you know, you know how to sing and stuff and you know that this note is higher
than that one. Okay, but you don’t know that it’s a B flat. So what’s the difference in our connectome
that allows Ruth to do something quite different than I can do? And we now know, actually the
research has been done fairly recently, that Ruth’s connectome does look indeed quite
different and mainly that she has this very thick highways of connectivity, this is auditory
cortex here, and notice how much thicker hers in than a person with relative pitch. It’s
not that this person doesn’t have any connections, they’re just thin and like country roads,
you know, you can’t send a lot of information that way, whereas Ruth can send a lot of information,
nice big thick roads, a kind of a weak analogy, but anyway, you can see, wow, that’s different
and notice that, in fact, it’s really on one side, it happens to be on the left side
that you have this very unusually over connected brain. So Ruth’s neurology, her connectome is that
she is hyper-connected in this part of auditory cortex and it’s asymmetric, bigger on one
side than the other. All of you are typically connected and you’re symmetric, same on
both sides and that’s the way our connectomes look. So who has a disability? Very different connectomes
… and an argument I’m going to make and I think several speakers have made it in the
last two days, is about context, meaning everything, so I’m going to describe two contexts. So
Ruth is a semi-professional singer, sings all the time in concert halls and so on, not
as a soloist but in choruses, she’s – people recognize her, she’s got great pitch, she
should sing. And when she hears me sing or we listen to
something, she is kind of appalled at my disability. It’s just like – I have no idea what that
note is. No, I don’t know that they changed from major to minor chords or anything. No,
I don’t know, and for Ruth, this is, you know, something to be pitied. And … was a part of our relationship early
because Ruth, when we met, she knew that I’d actually been a musician, not professionally,
but I’d played a lot of music, so she assumed I was going to be a good father of our children,
and her view of happy married life was from the movie, I think you’ve probably seen
it, The Sound of Music, where she would marry somebody that looked a lot more handsome than
I do and we would generate six or eight children and we’d be able to sing in six or eight
part harmony while we were in a Volkswagen van, you know, crossing the Rockies. So this
was her view of what, you know, the future would like and it was a great disappointment
to her too late in the relationship when she discovered that I actually terrible pitch
and worse, that I passed it on to our children. So Ruth now has a whole family of people with
disabilities from her take and it’s all my fault. But context is everything. So we go to a church together, it’s an old
New England church, not old by your standards, but old by USA standards and in the church,
things are a little bit different. For one thing, I’m sitting next to Ruth, we’ve got
the hymn book in front and I’m not really singing perfectly on pitch, right, just like
you. I’m close by, but it’s not great and the person on Ruth’s other side, they’re
not really singing perfectly on pitch either, they’re somewhere nearby and pretty much
everybody is a little bit off, okay. But the worse thing is that the church’s organ
which is very old, like old organs, has drifted away from A at 440 so when the organist presses
the A key, it actually doesn’t play A any more, it plays a G, okay, and that’s not
so atypical, but it doesn’t bother you because you’re like me, you’re disabled, okay,
and you go … “Hey, whatever he’s playing is probably an A, I don’t care.” But for
Ruth, she sees this is supposed to be an A and the organ is playing a G and nobody is
even singing quite right on G, so what does Ruth sing? Ruth kind of mumbles in church.
What is she supposed to do? And I love the irony of the fact that every couple of years,
our choir director asks if I would join the choir and they would never think of asking
Ruth. Isn’t that fabulous? So in our church, relative pitch is way, way better, okay, and
Ruth looks disabled and in fact, that’s why I asked if there was anybody here who
had perfect pitch. But people with perfect pitch will commonly
describe it, not only as their strength, but as their disability. Why? Because they hate
it when people sing off pitch. They don’t like it when the radio plays the tune and
they play it too slow so it goes off pitch, they don’t like it that rock stars can’t
sing on pitch. All of this is destructive so they find listening to music can often
be problematic and singing with your husband who can’t sing is highly problematic for
them. Okay, so who has a disability is entirely
contextual. In this part of – this is the back part
of your nervous system. There are other kinds of areas that are specialized, within vision,
and this is what’s so neat about the nervous system, but people didn’t know this stuff
until fairly recently. You have a specialized area for faces. You recognize faces in an
area that’s different than other parts of the visual world. Written words is right nearby,
recognize written words here, houses, big objects here and so on. You specialize, your
cortex is specialized. But what’s most important for our conversation
today is that some people will have much bigger areas for any of these and much smaller for
others. We’re different even at that. It’s not like we’re visual or – I never use the
term ‘visual learners’ or stuff like that. It’s more complicated than that. So you can have a person, in fact, this guy
who has prosopagnosia which means face blindness, he’s not blind, he can see everything, but
he can’t recognize people by their faces. It’s just this part he has difficulty with
and he reads and talks and he knows what houses are and all that, but faces is hard for him
and it’s hard for you to even picture what it would be like that he doesn’t recognize
people by their faces. But by the way, he has friends, and you think
about it for a second, oh in fact I’ll tell you the most surprising thing, neither he
or his family knew he was face blind until he was 22 years old. This is a person who
is face blind, he does not recognize anybody by their faces and no one knew it until he
was 22. Think for a second, how could that happen? How did he get through school and
nobody knows you’re face blind. Okay? Well, the answer is he developed all sorts of other
ways to tell people apart, the way they move, the way they dress, the way their voices sound,
all of that, so he actually never noticed and he found it surprising and actually he
discovered it when he was watching television with a friend. They were watching a soap opera
and he said normally … “I wish they’d pull the camera back a little bit so we could
see who’s talking” … because you know what a soap opera is, right on their faces
because it’s all about the emotion. So he said … “I wish they’d pull the camera
back so I can see who’s talking. His friend goes … “What?” He said … “I can’t
tell who’s talking.” And his friend goes … “what do you mean?” And he says … “Well,
we can’t see what they’re like.” And then they had this enormous conversation where
he finds out his friend’s been telling people apart by their faces. And he’s like … “Really!”
You know, because for him, they’re all the same, they’ve all got one nose, two eyes,
a mouth, what’s the difference? Okay, so he’s not specialized enough to
tell people – he can tell you have a face and it just looks like everybody else’s
face. Okay. So we differ, and he’s an example of someone
and you see lots of images like this. So dyslexic readers take in information very differently.
They do a lot with their posterior cortex – sorry – a typical reader does a lot of
things with posterior cortex, that’s that word recognition area right there and dyslexic
readers aren’t doing it that way, using different parts of their brain, very different. One of my favourite recent studies was looking
at children with autism and finding out that children with autism were hyper connected
in large parts of their cortex. So that same thing, remember that Ruth had, the hyper connected
auditory cortex, kids with autism are hyper connected all sorts of places. Now that’s
a really – the reason I wanted to get here was that’s a different view of autism than
thinking as many do that they have a hole in their head or they’ve had some terrible
thing go wrong or whatever. Seeing them as hyper connected like Ruth’s auditory cortex
means they’re going to be quite disabled at some things and quite strongly abled in
others, just like Ruth’s perfect pitch and her inability to sing in church. So kids with
autism are hyper connected in the same way that Ruth is, but with most of their senses.
Isn’t that interesting? So there’s some downsides to that and some upsides, upsides
is their fabulous memories, for example, much better than yours, incredibly good with perceptual
tasks, better than you. So what does this mean for all of us? First
approximation answer, we tend to use fixed, uniform, learning technologies, things like
a book and we have highly varied learners. They’re not coming to it with the same brain
at all and that’s a problem. But the problem is we’ve always identified it as this is
the problem, the kids the problem. And we have – I used to be a neuropsychologist and
this is the kind of books you read – Neuropsychological Evaluation of the Child – what’s wrong with
this child? There’s something really wrong because they don’t have a good match between
the medium we use and the brains they’re using, but the children are blamed, they’re
the problem. You’ve got a disability. New media are changing these equations and
that’s why the media are part of doing UDL. Not, I should say, a required part, there
are fabulous teachers who do not use any technology who are doing great UDL. We’ll probably
get a chance to talk about that. But it allows any other great tool like jet engines, it
allows us to do things we couldn’t do before. So what does it change? And I’ll do this
quickly. The new media are a foundation for great flexibility.
So here’s the highlighting text that’s stored in a hard drive or in your cell phone
or on your car or whatever and it’s then displayed in some device. But the great thing
is we can take the same text and display it in all kinds of different ways, different
colours, different size of fonts, all of that stuff you know, but some of you are as old
as me and you remember when you couldn’t do that. You couldn’t change the size of
your text easily, now you can. You can change the language. Google of course does this fabulously.
But we can also display in different sense modalities. We can take that same text and
say … “yes, we can do it visually” … but we could also do it haptically. Give it to
me in refreshable Braille so I can feel it. So we now have multiple modalities but the
same text shown in different ways. We can also now – everything now – this used
to be special, now everything that’s text in your computer can be spoken aloud. Great,
we have a new channel of information from that same text and there’s cool things like
… this is a virtual signer, so you can take that text and run it through the virtual signer
and he signs it. So you can change same text but now flexible in how it’s displayed and
that’s what we look at with universal design for learning, and just to end this little
segment. I love this. This is – did the show, Glee
make it to Ireland? [Yes]
Okay, some of you know, some of you don’t know and that means you’re just out of it
so don’t admit it. So Glee was a really really popular show in the US, treats disability
better than almost any other show and better, treats disability better than American schools
do to be honest. So what is cool about Glee is their web site has a Karaoke part and what
happens is, you know, the songs being sung or whatever and it says .. “Do you want
to sing it? … You say, of course, yes, and then you record it, and then the magic happens.
There’s a little button that says … “Do you want pitch correction?” [Laughter] So you can sing with great expression, sing
with, you know, emotion, you know, like loud and everything because you know that little
button is going to take care of the ugly part. Who cares? So I’m able to go into that,
do my little singing, press pitch correction and Ruth thinks I’m great. Okay. This kind of capacity has changed policy.
It was great to hear, in some ways, I think Norway is ahead of us, but changing the landscape
from practice to policy. There’s a law that was passed in the US.
It’s really kind of neat. The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard, NIMAS which
says … ‘you know what, because we can do this we must.’ We must change the way
in which text books are delivered to students. They must have this flexibility and NIMAS
specifies how that’s done. There’s also – it basically says, in fact it’s true
now, every text book in the US that’s published is now published in a NIMAS version which
is a complete digital version so that it can be quickly and easily put out as Braille,
put out as a talking book, put out as a large print book, all of that can happen flexibly
from one source file, that’s the NIMAS source file. Public policy:
A fairly recent – the most recent Higher Education Act in the US actually define universal
design for learning. It’s cool. We learned that the US Congress is a lot like middle
school students, you don’t say Junior High here, do you? But anyway, middle school students,
in that they copied stuff off our website and put it into the federal legislation, but
they changed words and stuff, you know, so it wouldn’t like it’s copied and we thought
… ‘well, this is cool.’ Anyway, so – but we like their – their wording
was kind of better than ours. So now we’re kind of taking up their words. So here’s
what they say Universal Design for Learning is. Provides flexibility (key word) in the ways
information is presented … And they’ll talk about three things that
we’re going to talk about today and the way students respond or demonstrate what they
know and in the way students are engaged. Cool. 3 principles. And reduces barriers in instruction, appropriate
accommodations, supports and challenges … blah, blah … maintains high achievement expectations
for all students, not low level access, high levels of achievement expectations including
students with disabilities and students who are limited. I like it, it doesn’t say ‘for’
kids with disabilities. It says ‘including kids with disabilities,’ everybody. These laws have recently – it’s not true
in every school or anything in the US, but there’s a change that’s happening that’s
palpable which is this one. The NIMAS is described as addressing the national need to increase
the availability and timely delivery of print instruction materials, text books, in accessible
formats to blind or other students with print disabilities in elementary and secondary schools.” This is a sea change for me and it’s a universal
design change. Instead of saying the student is learning disabled, or intellectually disabled
or something like that, saying that they are print disabled starts to collocate the problem,
that is you need to look at – there’s a bad relationship, in the talk earlier about
relationships, there’s a bad relationship between this kid and their instructional materials.
If you start off with the view that it’s the kid’s problem and we’ve got to fix the kid,
then you have this really corrosive system. If you start off by thinking … ‘Mmm, maybe
print is not good enough, maybe print is what has the disability,’ then you start to get
the good solutions. So in the US it’s started happening and now kids can go to a clinic
and be diagnosed with a print disability which, by the way, is incredibly more affirming because
it says … ‘you know what, print’s not a good medium for you.’ But there are other
media and it takes away that problem of ‘you are broken and you can’t make it.’ So I love it when these books – will be changed
to Neuropsychological Evaluation of the Curriculum. What are the disabilities in the curriculum?
If I want to stir up parent audiences, I talk about what kind of disabilities does your
school have? And at first, they go … “What?” … and then some will say … “You know,
my school is sort of autistic now that you mention it” … [Laughter] … and … “My
school, it’s dyslexic!” And then all of a sudden you start realizing … Ah, the curriculum
and the ways we teach are also sources of disabilities. I love this title. This is a UK article. “Is
English a Dyslexic Language?” … is part of that change. Hey, we’ve got to think
about this. Labelling the kids as dyslexic but … “Hey, that English, other languages
a lot fewer kids have problems learning to read than English. English has disabilities,
it’s not a great written language. That was heresy, wasn’t it, I know. Okay, anyway, the goal though isn’t to meet
these requirements, it’s to do better learning and – sorry, I just want to give an example
just for fun. This is – I want to make sure I’ve got
enough time at the end so I’m not going to do my elaborate set up, but you can all
picture if I played a piece of music to you and I said we’re going to do a comprehension
test on it. I’m going to play a little bit and then I’m going to ask you some hard
questions about it, okay. And you’d all go … Ooh, okay, because you know you’re
not probably going to do very well at it if I just play the music. I’m going to skip
that for a moment. If, for some of you, if I gave another representation
of it, give the graphical representation of it, you say … “Oh, I see what’s going
on here” … because you have good music reading skills. For instance, lots of you
in the audience, that wouldn’t help either, either being immediately listening to it or
looking at the score, neither of those would give you a good entry vehicle to what this
piece is really doing. So I just want to show you there’s this guy that does these now
and these are becoming very popular which I think it’s cool. So let’s look at Bach
in multiple representations as we’ll talk about them. Sorry, I don’t know how to use my slide
shows. [Music]
It’s hard to hear what’s going on, easy to see what’s going on.
[Music] I know you want me to keep playing it and
stop talking. It gets actually better, I’m not going to take the time to do it here,
but in the fuge of this it’s glorious because he does a fabulous job of highlighting the
theme and you see the theme keep popping up everywhere in ways that you would never hear
it. But you can see it easily because of the way he does this beautifully graphically and
he makes this theme stand out which in the UDL guidelines is called highlighting critical
features. Let me highlight the theme for you because maybe you’re not an expert listener
yet and so we can highlight it and you see the theme and you go ‘wow’. And then you see
Bach, I didn’t even want to tell you that. So I was showing this to a friend who’s a
musical scholar with his daughter, rather I wanted to show it and I said … “I’ve
got this fabulous visualization of Bach’s ba-ba-ba”… and he said … “Yeah, I
know, I teach that. I’ve played it, you know, hundreds of times.” And I said … “I
think it shows really cool things about it. He said … “Look, I know that piece.”
And his daughter who was a teenager luckily, and she said … “Dad, why don’t you just
look at it.” Okay, so he goes … “All right, all right.” So I put it up and again
it’s much richer when we get later in the thing, but anyway … So first, he’s kind
of sultry and like “What, David’s going to teach me about music?” But he gets more
and more glued into this and at the end he goes … “Wow, you know I never knew what
Bach was doing in that middle passage.” Because in fact he inverts the theme and stretches
it out and it’s very hard to see it in the score, it’s very hard to hear it, but then
you realize … “Oh, my God, Bach is smarter even than we knew.” So he learned something. The reason I wanted to highlight that was
because people think of UDL as something you do and that got mentioned earlier for remedial
students, students that are in trouble, struggling and in fact, you do UDL, so that in fact,
there’s enough purchase in here that music scholar needs to be able to learn something
new too, and what I loved about it was that he did, a new representation of the Bach gave
him something to learn. Fabulous. And UDL at its best is doing that. We call those multiple
representations. Presenting information in new ways, in multiple
ways at the same time gives more people a chance, not just remedial students, but everybody,
a chance to learn better. Okay, I’m going to skip over here. So Universal
Design for Learning has 3 main principles. Provide multiple means of representation.
I’ve just talked about that. Representing information in multiple ways makes more kids
be successful whether you have disability or not. And there are two more and I’m going
to be much briefer on them. Hope you have the idea. As I said, the front part of your brain, it’s
about expression and people are really different there. And I – just because I’m in the
UK, I wanted to … how many people know who Tim Berners-Lee is? Raise your hand if you
know who Tim Berners-Lee is. Okay, lots of people don’t. So Tim Berners-Lee is the
guy who wrote the World Wide Web. He’s been knighted and he has dinner with the Queen
and stuff like that. This is an incredible guy and what’s interesting though, is Tim
is quite disabled, he has what’s called executive function disability, although school
didn’t tell him that. He just knew that school really was not good for him, and you probably
know the story, that he invented the World Wide Web, not because he had a job to that,
he wasn’t even hired to do anything like that, he was a physicist at CERN and he wanted,
because he’s very ADHD … is what people would call him and by the way, he’s as ADHD
as anyone you’ll ever meet. He couldn’t stand it that you had to – once
you did your – someone did some findings and they wouldn’t be able to get them for a year
in a journal. He was like – can you imagine for an impulse disorder person. We did this
fabulous experiment, we found the bozone, whatever that is, and you’ll see it in a
year, you know. Tim was like crazy … “no, I got to see it now.” So he invented the URL. What’s a URL? A
universal resource locator so he could find everybody’s paper immediately, right now,
just like an ADHD person would like it. Notice that a person who didn’t have ADHD would
never have done that, they would have said we need to make a library. We need to have
card catalogues and all this stuff and Tim would go … “Oh my God, I can’t go to
the library, that takes a heck of a long time and looking through cards. No, no, no, I want
to find it right now. Give me – Everything in the world’s going to have its universal
resource locater. Anybody would have said that’s crazy except other ADHD people who
would have said … “Wow, that sounds great.” Okay. So Tim invented the World Wide Web. Now I’d like to argue he invented the World
Wide Web because nobody drugged him, you know, they didn’t give him these drugs to get
rid of that and so he kept being impulsive and creative in the ways that ADHD people
can be, looking for a better solution and the outside world rather than drugging himself.
I also have to say, I just want to make sure, what I like about it, this again is a context
argument, isn’t it true he has made all of you more ADHD than you were before. [Laughter] Remember when you could sit and read a whole
book and you were quiet and everything, you know, and now you are on the web and you are
so distractible, it’s unbelievable. That’s the legacy of Tim Berners-Lee. He said … “I
want to get to everything right away.” So you have problems, you have a new disability
which is you can’t concentrate on the Web and Tim’s really happy. Okay. So there are things you can do, there’s
even web control things. This one I love, Self Control. You know how you’re distracted
like that, you don’t know what to do. There’s an App for that, of course, there’s an App
for everything and the App’s called Self Control and what it is is, you say … “I
want to get this paper done and I don’t want to get, you know, distracted, by Facebook
and Instagram and Twitter and all that, for half an hour, let’s say. I’m going to
get my work done so you punch in half an hour and those sites can’t get to you. Now the
great thing is you can’t override it because you know, you are smart people and you – the
minute, you know, ten minutes into it, you go … “I just got to check Facebook for
a second and it says … “no, no, you said half an hour.” Oh my God! So I know that
some people go to another computer…I understand! But anyway … Self Control. So there are things we can do that provide
multiple means of action and expression acting on the world that allows kids and adults and
Tim Berners-Lee to express themselves in ways that show how smart they are rather than how
disabled they are. And last of these three things and I’m going to probably try to
really do this quickly, but it’s the most important one, it’s the central part of
your nervous system, it’s the part again that sets priorities, that evaluates for you,
and you experience it as emotions. Emotions are a separation of values you have,
some of which you’re born in, like you feel emotion when you’re confronted by a lion.
Okay. What do emotions do? They optimize according to core values, and a core value is you stay
alive. Okay, your nervous system is designed to keep you alive until you at least procreate
and it has core values to say avoid things that would kill you. When you see a lion, your core values are
challenged. It’s like … “Oh my God, if I don’t do something, I’m not going
to be alive soon.” So it optimizes what you seek, attend to, remember, predict, achieve.
You are focused, that’s what emotions do. Okay, there’s a lot of things, you could
be thinking about your future, you could be thinking about singing, you could be thinking
about the USA, you could be thinking of anything, right now you’re not going to do that, you’re
going to think about that lion and only that lion, and emotions are going to help you get
directed and make sure that that’s the only thing you’re paying attention to. Okay. Are the students still here? Oh, they’re
out doing their work. There was a thing that came up from that talk this morning that I
wanted to highlight. The engagement thing, how do we motivate students and I want to
argue that it is incredibly personal like the other things I’ve talked – very different
in what actually motivates and engages you, each of us, and teachers, to be good teachers,
have to be incredibly good at understanding these differences. So this is Benjamin Bloom
who I don’t know if he’s big here, but in the USA, he was big a long time ago. This
is an old book. He did research on what made students come out to be extraordinarily successful,
top opera singer, top mathematician, top athlete, dancer, musician. How did they get there?
He talked about you know what. It’s all effect, and he talked about the other things
first, but he said it finally comes down to effect, and he said that mostly you get there
by having 3 different kinds of teachers. And this happened to me. This is me in college.
I was a trumpet player and I’m just going to describe briefly my learning how to be
a trumpet player. The first teacher which Bloom talks about is all about providing an
emotional foundation for me to like music and to feel like I can play music. And I remember
my first teacher wasn’t even a trumpet teacher, was a piano teacher because I lived in a small
town and there wasn’t any trumpet teachers and I would bring a plastic trumpet that my
mother got me. My mother was an excellent teacher and I said I wanted to play the trumpet.
She said … “Okay, great” … and the reality, no trumpet teachers in town and we
don’t have a trumpet. She went to a toy store, got a thing that looked like a trumpet
with – you know, it was not a real trumpet even and she said … “Why don’t you take
this to your music lesson, and can you imagine the teacher. In I come with this plastic thing
and she’s trying to teach me, you know, how to play Bach on the piano and I want to
play this plastic thing. The great thing is, she said … “David, we’re going to make
music” … you know, I don’t remember it all exactly, but she got me to like music
and play even with this plastic trumpet and I wouldn’t give it up and so finally, my
parents got me a real trumpet and I gave up the piano and became – played trumpet. Then I began to have real lessons by people
who knew how to play trumpet and got to be quite good … because why? I cared about
the trumpet more than anything else. I practiced a lot, blah, blah, blah, got to be a good
trumpet player, and that second teacher, the teachers I had then were all about technique.
I’ve got to do scales and I’ve got to practice and I’ve got to do things over
and they – you know. How did they motivate me to do that? And you all know this. They
said … “David, how would you like to be in a band?” A band? How cool, uniforms,
everything, girls, okay. So what is that? It’s saying there’s social things, there’s
things we can do, we can get little stickers on your practice sheets. I can motivate you
to sustain practice, but that’s very different than the first teacher. But then came a pivotal incident, I moved
to a big school in Miami, Florida, where the bands are big and I was the best trumpet player
in our school. And we went to a contest and our band did not win it. I don’t know if
we came in last, but we didn’t do well and the judge came out and he said – his critique,
very first critique, he said … “The solo trumpet player does not play musically.”
And I’m like … that was me, so you can imagine in high school, all of your peers,
120 people, and the judge is saying you guys lost because of that David Rose guy. [Laughter] You know, it was just like … devastating
and I didn’t know what to do. I’d practiced and everything and my band teacher was good
and he said … “David, let’s go talk to the judge after” … because he realized
I was crushed, and so we go up to the judge – anyway, the judge says … “He needs
a new trumpet teacher.” Now my trumpet teacher was my band leader. This is putting him down
too. I’m like … what kind of teacher do I need? So they find a new teacher, had to
go a few towns over, and I’m going to describe exactly my first interaction with this new
teacher. This is my third teacher. Not about foundational, music is great, you’re going
to be great. Second teacher – how can we motivate you to sustain effort? Third teacher
is this one. He says … “Okay, play me something.” So I play my best piece and
he says literally, every word of this is accurate, he says “Do you play anything well?” Now
this was the exact opposite to that first teacher. I’m on a plastic trumpet. There’s
nothing going on and she’s saying … “That’s beautiful, David.” And this guy, and my
best piece after 8 years of practice … “Do you play anything well?” Okay. What Bloom learned was to get to the highest
level of talent, you needed what he calls a tyrant. Not at the beginning, not even at
the middle, but once you have good technique and all of that, then you need somebody who
is more driven by the music than by you. They say … “that doesn’t sound like Mozart,
it’s not musical.” And anyway, that guy turned me into an actually good trumpet player,
but it was – I don’t remember him ever saying to me once … “David, that was really
good.” I don’t think he ever did it. I think he would say – I think the best he would
say was … “All right, let’s move on.” And you’ve all heard these stories. Ballet
dancers talk about their teachers that way. They’re ruthless and there’s some movie
out right now, I can’t remember the name of it, that’s exactly about this. Some people,
I can tell – no, okay. So we have to design our teaching environments
emotionally, not just cognitively, not just how do we represent information, not how do
we change what – how do we provide alternatives for expression, but different kids in our
classrooms need very different emotional connections, the relatedness that was talked about. I wanted to end this section and I’ve probably
gone on too long, by saying, that at its heart, and it goes with exactly the talk just before
this one, teaching is at its most core, just like this core in the nervous system, teaching
is emotional work. It was described as relational work. It’s emotional work, that getting
kids to want to learn, getting kids to feel good about themselves as learners, all of
those things are what makes a good teacher, and think of any movie you’ve seen about
teaching, that is – any of the popular movies, Good Will Hunting or – you know, I don’t
know what ones are popular here, they’re not about a great new way to do long division,
they’re about … how did that person motivate those kids. And that’s what the emotion
work of teaching is. So what we think of when we do UDL is we’ve
got to make sure there’s enough representations, so people can have some success, got to make
sure there’s enough ways to express yourself so we’re not limiting kids to only things
they’re not good at and so on. But then we still have to do the hard work which is
… how do we emotionally get kids ready, eager, enthusiastic to learn and that’s
the fun part. There’s things you can do, and I’m going to skip these for the moment,
but turns out one of the things you can most do is help kids re-centre their view of where
do they come from. There’s enormous amounts of studies that
say … ‘What’s the thing you could do that would best make the kids score go up?
On a test – a standardized test, you know what the best thing you can do is? Ask them
to tell you a 5 or 10 minute story about their family and what’s good about their family
for them. That raises scores by 40 points. Nothing about their content, but just about
who are you and what’s strong about your family. That changes scores. You can also
give people feedback that is motivational feedback rather than … oh, you’re smart
which isn’t – which turns out not to be motivational. I want to show you – this is a youngster,
Matthew has severe motor disability, and can only move his chin and a little bit of his
face, can’t walk, talk, point, do anything like that. His neck is held up by a brace.
This is what’s called Locked in syndrome. And he came to us as a child who was assumed
to be profoundly retarded. The schools were going to send him to an institutional school
and his mother just didn’t believe it. Anyway, so we were new at this. And this is Ann Meyer,
the co-founder of CAST and we have just made a switch to put under Matthew’s chin so
he can move the switch. Remember he has never spoken a word in his life. He can’t even
point at things so people had no idea whether he was – ‘Is there anything in there’
… was the question. So we’re given this and we didn’t know what we were doing so
we decided, maybe Morse code, maybe we can teach him to click and that’ll work. So
you’re going to see – the reason I’m showing it is we just discovered this in our
archive on somebody’s computer. This is Ann Meyer for the very first time trying to
teach this little guy who can only move his chin to do Morse code, but watch this. [VIDEO]
Very good. [Morse code bleeps] Okay, wait a minute, wait a minute. Good,
now long, short, l-o-n-g. Okay, let’s try again. [Morse code bleeps] Then long. Good.
You know what happened, there was too long a pause. Matthew, this is hard work and you
are doing great – you did it, you did it. Hey, you’re ahead of me. How can you get
ahead of me? Look at you. You did it. Matthew. [END VIDEO] I love it because you see the emotional work
going on. You notice two things happen. That’s the biggest smile anybody has ever seen on
him in his entire life including his mother, but did you notice that Ann cries, that they’re
in an emotional relationship at that moment fundamentally. It’s really fabulous. I didn’t
even know we had that. Okay, so that’s UDL, okay, providing multiple
means of engagement. You can’t engage everybody the same way etc. So I want to just spend
the remaining time I have just talking about what I do in my own teaching, and some of
it really is terrible just like any of you do when you teach, but I’ve learned a few
things that I try to do better at. First, lectures like this. I used to do – I teach
three hours at a time. I do give them a break, but anyway, long lectures … blah, blah,
blah. And how do I make lectures more accessible? This is something you can all do and it works
great and it’s quick. You know, in universities you may have people who are paid note takers.
I don’t know if you do, in the US it’s common, you have someone take notes and put
them up or share them with students with disabilities. Actually, I find that really awkward, it doesn’t
work well because the problem is the note taker is typically not a person taking the
class, they don’t have, of course, the same background knowledge as the kid they’re
taking notes for so the notes are usually useless. Oh, there’s probably professional
note takers here. [Laughter] Once in a while, they’re useless for the actual learner. So one of the things that I’ve learned to
do is to just ask in a group like this. I would say … “Every week, five of you are
going to take notes, the key thing as I say, five of you , not one, five are going to take
notes as part of your participation in class, you take notes and you put them up on the
web. So I just want to show you what happens if you say take notes any way you want. This will be a nice UDL summary. Look what
happens. So this is what everybody thinks is going to happen. Somebody who takes these
gorgeous, linear notes that their high school English teacher taught them. This is pretty
much the same lecture you’re going to see, but different note takers. So this is one, a nice outline.
This one – person says … “Hey, I can use images. I like images.” So he puts images
in, okay, and it’s – you know, richer etc.
This person says … “I don’t like all that text anyway.” So she begins largely
and does the whole lecture in just two pages of drawings. Oh, I didn’t keep them all, anyway mostly
drawings instead of text, okay, same lecture. Actually, once students see this one, they
all go … “You mean we can take notes with pictures?” And they start changing the whole
– there’s a contagion. People say … “We can take notes, we don’t have to take them
like that. We can take notes like that. We can take notes like that and so on, they start
getting more. Then this guy comes in. Notice how it starts.
He says … “Hi, my name is Chris in case you missed it or simply want to relive it.
Here’s what happened on Tuesday night, that’s him. So he says … “Hey, the critical thing
isn’t David Rose, it’s me.” [Laughter] And so he starts telling the story of him being
in class and so it’s much more like a letter from camp. And he talks about, you know, Katie
asked me for gum, she’s out of luck, it’s 7.05. Eventually, he gets to the actual lecture
and he does a – so there’s me and my real teaching and that’s his bottle of ginger
ale, but it’s pretty good notes and they’re more interesting than the class outline. Then this guy did the most amazing thing.
He took the whole lecture and went to a cartoon repository and got a cartoon for every single
point. Now I’ll use that next year, it’s fabulous. Have your students – you know,
never work harder than your students, that kind of argument, you know. Having my students
take notes, they’re adding stuff. I’ve got new images, I’ve got cartoons for my
main points. So next year it’s a lot easier, okay, and it’s cheaper than paying someone
to do it. Textbooks: I think you all – probably you
have disability services in your universities that will render books into digital form,
increasingly that will be automatic, they’ll all be in digital form because of laws like
NIMIS that will just say you have to do it. So here’s our newest book and I hope some
of you will look at it, Anne Meyer, the woman you just saw, Ann Meyer’s the first author.
But what’s different about this book is that it is available in four different versions,
again that flexibility. One is a standard print you get on Amazon like any book, okay.
Another one is a rich web book that is full of videos, for example. In fact, we tried
to make the book so you can do the whole book by watching videos with just text as accompaniment.
It doesn’t work really quite as well. It was just too expensive to make that many videos,
but there are videos everywhere and images everywhere and the images are described for
people who are blind and the videos are captioned for people who are deaf and all of that happens,
so it’s a rich multimedia thing. So it’s actually much better than the print one in
terms of the media that are available for the user. Then there are several other versions
that make various accessibility things. But what’s interesting is – this book’s
just been out for a year, but this year I asked students what – they had to read it
… “What did you do?” And, you know what’s interesting is there was great diversity,
some people only wanted the print. They didn’t want to ever – they hate being online like
some of you, so they did the print. Some people never considered so they didn’t
even think about buying a print book, the digital one is free by the way. They said
… “Hey, I read on the web everything, I’ve got my – you know, iPad.” But a very
significant minority, I would say 40/45% bought the print version and used this one, the digital
version and depended on their mood or what they were doing, did they want to take notes,
did they want to listen to it because of course it all talks itself aloud, you know, there’s
sort of many different things, but sometime you’re at the beach, you don’t want to
bring your computer so they brought the print version. So actually 40/45% had two or three
versions of the same book and they used it as they wished. Isn’t that cool? That’s
the kind of flexibility that we can do. So class: What do I do in class? I’ve sharply
reduced lectures. Some of you are already bored and you’re thinking … ‘Oh my God,
he’s gone on too long.’ I’m near the end. A lot of my students are like that … you
know, oh my God, three hours of this. How could I possibly – you know, ADHD, it’s
just like impossible. I have a lot of foreign students. All that English, that’s a problem. So anyway, here’s how class goes now. I
give a relatively short lecture, more like 45 minutes now, sometimes even just half an
hour, standard lecture and then we go into design teams where we’re making something.
Every single week now we make something and it might be just like a picture description,
some people get a sense of how do you make a picture universally designed. It might be
as small a task as that or something larger like how would you design a summer camp so
that everybody would be welcome, for example. But anyway, design teams that meet regularly
and that is about an hour. And then the last hour are what we call advanced consulting
groups and they’re specialized where you’re learning a specific thing that you want to
bring back to your design group and where students can, in fact, differentiate and say,
one of these is like a research group, one of these is a multimedia design – multimedia
group. One of them is a teacher group, but where – that they have different takes, different
things they’re studying and they get to be experts at it and they bring it back to
their teams. Anyway, so that seems to be working nicely
that – some people really like lectures, they got to Harvard because they were good at sitting
in lectures and if I don’t do any lectures, they hate it. They don’t feel like their
$35,000 is worth it. So we do some lecture and it provides groundwork, but then there’s
active learning and then there’s sort of advanced learning. But everybody’s in advanced
group but not the same one. If you have a big, good research background in neuroscience
there is a group for you. So over the course, we all do some things together, we do some
things in small groups and we differentiate into special sort of – everybody’s got
to get to advanced. Last thing, yeah, I’m at the end here. In
the course, how do I do assessment, what’s the end? They have a major project, but – and
this is an example. They have to make a new piece of – saying it’s a piece is probably
not right. They have to do an instructional thing and make it. It could be something for
a museum, it could be something for a classroom. So this is a website that these people made
that was really fabulous, but it has four things and this turned out to be the key thing,
because you know what happens in college is everybody writes a paper, or everybody takes
an exam and that’s the problem so we’re sort of saying there’s one – after we do
all of this, you’ve all got to pass the exam or you’ve all got to write a paper. So what this does – it says actually, there’s
four parts of this project, one is you’ve got to make a working prototype, and that
gives kids who are good with technology something to – I can fuss with digital bits. Second part, you must justify your project
with research, so people who are really good at research papers or who want to get better
at doing a research paper can do that. A third part is an implementation plan. How
is this going to work in a real classroom or real museum? Who’s going to do what and
how are you going to train them? So they have to have an implementation plan that goes with
it and lastly, this turned out to be really spooky good. They have to have a marketing
piece to tell people why this is a great product, why should you have it in your classroom or
why should this particular design of a camp be the right thing. So they have to sell it.
What selling it does is it glues them into what is the most important thing to say about
what we did and it really focuses everybody. So there’s four things that have to go in.
You can see up here, they’ve got those four things. What I like about it is that it does
allow people to differentiate and the students have liked it. And again – it isn’t necessarily
that you do the thing you’re best at, but you do the thing you want to learn more about
doing and people get that choice and they work together, of course, they’re not separate,
but they work together as a team. It doesn’t work well and you’ve all been
in bad teams where four people are working on a paper. It always ends up that one person
does 70% of the work and the rest are kind of either angry or confused and this kind
of differentiating is a much more universal design for learning, and I just want to say
where can you go if you want to learn more about all sort of stuff like this? This is CAST where I’m from, but this is
the key one. We have a new site, UDL on Campus which is entirely devoted to post secondary.
It’s brand new so don’t expect it to have as much as the full CAST site does, but the
Gates foundation has funded us to really talk about UDL on campus so you just type in UDL
on Campus in Google and you’ll come to it. But it’s fairly new, it’s just growing
and hopefully and I’ve been told to tell you this that you’ll provide stuff that
can be shared via UDL on Campus. We want you to be – some of you are doing better things
than we are. We hope you’ll contribute them. A new book just came out last week I want
to highlight for you. This is Tom Hehir, author of the book, a student with disabilities that
actually took my class. It was fabulous to have him. “How Did You Get Here? Students
with Disabilities and Their Journeys to Harvard.” It’s definitely an elitist book, but it’s
about – okay, students with disabilities who succeeded all the way through and got
to an elite college. How did they do it? They’re just personal stories, they’re really cool
and I got to write a foreword for it so you can read my forward. Actually, I like my foreword.
Please read my foreword. I like it. There’s other books you can see, but I’m out of time.
Thank you so much for your attention. [Applause] Brendan Goldsmith:
David, thank you very much for a truly inspirational lecture, I know we’re running a little bit
behind time, but I think we all enjoyed this so much that if David’s willing, perhaps
we could spend five more minutes with questions if that’s okay. Dr David Rose:
It’s okay with me. Thank you, David, very much for your presentation.
Thank you very, very much. In our country in Holland, we are trying to do a bit like
you can do about telling the good news about UDL, but right at the moment, after presentation,
we always get a question. ‘Okay, can you show me some scientific evidence that what
we are all saying is true?’ How do you respond to such a remark? Dr David Rose:
So the question is about what’s the evidence that this works, okay. And there is a lot
of research and under the guidelines, each guideline will have a ton of research about
why we say this works. So if you go there, it’s really boring and it’s being revised,
so that you can find it. But it really just says … ‘Why should you provide captions?’
Actually captions have very little – this is the odd part – the more obvious it is that
they would be beneficial, the less research there is and maybe that’s okay, but still
people want to know … Does it really pay off to do captions and the answer is there’s
actually very few studies that go anything past … “Do you like having captions if
you’re deaf?” … and the answer is yes, but do you do better in the university setting
if all your videos are captioned. It’s something that there’s very little information on. But that – you sort of go – I get it that
if you can’t actually pick up the information in the video, that can’t be good, so some
of it is thin on research, some of it’s a lot like hilighting critical features as
a matter of educational practice. There’s hundreds of


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