UDL-Universal Design for Learning


Image by Giulia Forsythe via Flickr

For our Selecting and Integrating technology class, we were challenged to create a lesson plan using the CAST lesson builder based on the principles of UDL.  These principles are used to ensure that all learners are presented with opportunities that best fit their learning style.

I found creating this lesson a challenge.  I work in a healthcare field that requires good sight, hearing and physical abilities.  So adding assistive applications and devices did not fit.  I chose to focus on learning styles and the tools and methods that addressed all of the learning styles.

Here is the link  UDL lesson plan 


TPACK in Education




What is TPACK?

TPACK consists of 3 types of knowledge activities.  Content knowledge, Pedagogy knowledge, and Technology Knowledge. Educators are well versed in Content, (the what) and Pedagogy (the how) of teaching, but may lack experience incorporating the technology into pedagogy practices. Here is a quick video that explains it. 


(Image shared with permission from                                                                                                                           http://tpack.org)

On pondering these areas, I believe that teachers need to be strong in Content and Pedagogy in prior to effectively incorporating technology.  All the technology in the world will not correct or fix a poorly planned lesson or activity.  Another option is for teachers strong in pedagogy skills to work with a teach strong in technology skills.  Working together they utilize each other’s strengths and assist each other in developing quality lessons as this TPACK video demonstrates.  

Educators must give thoughtful consideration as to what lessons technology can enhance and diligently plan its implementation.   As a higher education instructor,  I was recently surprised to find that my current student, all who fall under the tags of “Millennial” or “Digital Native” are not that into technology when it comes to education.  The general consensus is that it adds more work for them and they feel like they are teaching themselves.  This video on TPACK and Instructional Design speaks about performing a technology audit prior to planning in order to ensure that all students will have the experience and needed resources for the lessons.  An audit like this could also include survey questions that can test the waters for attitudes on technology and learning.  

In considering whether to incorporate technology into my own lessons I need to consider:

  • What technology are students experienced using?
  • What are their attitudes in using this for education?
  • Do the activities enhance understanding of what is being taught in the classroom?
  • Will the activities be seen as a positive addition or overwhelm the students?

Only after answering these questions, could one combine technology with content and pedagogy for learning. 






Gamification in the Classroom

I am experimenting with gamification in the classroom.  As a teacher of Diagnostic Medical Ultrasound, I was unsure of how to implement this initially.  Our professor Dr. Leigh Zeitz introduced our  Digital and Social Media class to Chore Wars.  As Chore Wars can easily be customized, I chose this format to experiment with.


This week in the Land of Sono-Wars!

The objective of Sono-Wars is to develop and reward positive behaviors of junior sonography students that will increase their chances of success when that student enters their clinical site.  Students are rewarded for coming in and scanning on their own, volunteering for another student to be their patient, accomplishing various scanning goals, housekeeping and equipment upkeep and some academic related tasks such as studying or attending a tutoring session.  

The game also has rewards, gold pieces, and monsters.  I created the Monsters to be something that a sonographer hates to encounter in the real clinical setting.  A Grumpy patient, a very large patient, and various pathology.  In the following Carotid Ultrasound example, the monsters are an aneurysm, plaque, stenosis, tortuous vessels and aliasing.  These are all things that can make a Carotid ultrasound difficult to perform.  

Monster example

STUDENT FEEDBACK:  I trialed the game for the last 2 weeks of this semester.  Initially it took off slow but all 5 students were participating at the end.  I received the following feedback:

 *All 5 students are interested in playing it for a full semester.  

 *They would like to have a weekly winner

*They would like to know the prizes up front

*They would like reward for leveling up                                                        

 *They would like to have the potential to earn extra credit.  

We also discussed the possibility of adding components similar to what they will experience when they go into the clinical site to make the game even more valuable to them.  

Other things I learned:

The actual ChoreWars template levels players up every 200 points.  I will need to lower point values so students do not move up too fast. Their goal would be become a Sono Wizard by the end of the semester.  Point values for scanning need to be higher than for  studying or I need to remove those so that the focus is completely on scanning.  I also need to go back in and stack treasures so that they can collect them to trade in for prizes.

I chose to upgrade to the Gold level ($10) as it is easier to keep track of scores.  It also allows players to upload an image of their choosing and has the score board and monthly hall of fame.

My next steps will be to sit down with my director and decide on prizes and what we can or can’t do for extra credit. I also need to update the adventures for next semester.

Player Directions:

Login to  SonoWars

Create your character and select your avatar (you can also upload a custom picture if you would like)

Login daily to complete the adventures and earn points to level up from a Newbie with the goal of attaining the status of >>>>>>SONOWIZARD>>>>>>

**All of your adventures need to be completed in the Open Lab outside of regularly scheduled class.

Monitor your progress under the “Party Tab”  and in the “Monthly Hall of Fame”

For every 200 points, you will move up a level  in the game that matches one of the following:

Level 1  Sono Recruit                                    Level 2 Sono Soldier

Level 3 Sono Colonel                                      Level 4 Sono General

Level 5 Sono Knight                                      Level 6 Sono Warrior

Level 7  Sono Sorcerer                                 Level 8- SONOWIZARD

Prizes will be given for weekly, monthly and semester winners. (Prizes yet to be determined.)

Additional rewards:

Turn in 100 coins to earn a tasty treat in class

Collect 5 of the same treasure and trade in for 1 exam question hint or 1 extra credit point.





Adventures:  Points were awarded for coming into the open lab to practice outside of the regular lab time.


Points were awarded for various housekeeping tasks in the lab.

Adventures 2

Points were awarded for academic accomplishments related to scanning.

sono academic



In my Using Digital and Social Media class, we are exploring the use of gaming as an educational tool.  The game we were asked to play is Kingdom Rush.  This is a game with mythical creatures such as trolls, Yetis (my favorite) among other things.  It is a game of strategy and warfare.

I enjoy a good game.  Games are not new.  After all Milton Bradley invented the Game of Life in 1860.  Just for fun I tried looking to see if there was an electronic version of this.  I did not find one, but it would be cool if there was one.  More recently  (sort of) The band Kansas speaks of playing the entertainment game in the song “Play the Game Tonight” and Foreigner speaks to the games we play in relationships in the song “Head Games” 

Kingdom Rush is not a game I would typically ever try.  I am not much into the warfare thing.  However, as it was an assignment I did play it and felt compelled to try and excel at it.  (Which I didn’t)  I did some research to try and figure it out.  I checked the class forum, which to date had nothing in it but my comment as to where all the tips were?  I found a few helpful comments on Facebook.  Thank you Kim Carlson. I also found a forum that explained the game a little more.  Those things helped.

So what hindered me? Perhaps it is just not my preference for a game.  I liken it to Mafia Wars by Zynga on Facebook. I didn’t care for that one either.   Even after I had begun leveling up, I still really didn’t care for the game.  It took 3 different attempts to level up the first time.  After the research, which I in no way consider cheating, I leveled up more quickly and am sitting at level seven.  When I did level up my thoughts were “It’s about time!” (There may have been a few expletives in there as well.) This game is also solo.  I will contrast it to Farmville 2 on Facebook, where I am the owner of a Co-op that consists of 25 players from all over the world.  We work together to help each other level up.  When you level up you get rewards.  We have developed quite an online community.  There are people from every time zone in the continental USA, as well as Alaska, Hawaii, Australia, Netherlands, France, and England to name a few.  We have professionals just trying to chill, a few homebound people and two husband/wife teams.  We share personal triumphs and tragedies and have never met each other.  As I learn about online communities I smile as I think that is exactly what we have created.

Did I learn anything from this exercise?  I think gaming could be of use in the classroom.  The teacher would need to ensure that the directions are spelled out clearly, or I could see some students becoming quickly frustrated.  (As I did at times) Students might give up and walk away from the assignment.  They may or may not do what I did and research the game and ask classmates for suggestions.  (No one ever told me how to beat the Troll either.) I don’t think students should have to research the game if it is an assignment for them.  Leveling up could be very rewarding for the student, giving them much needed positive reinforcement.  . The positive experience for me is that I could figure the game out.  I really did not reach what is described as the flow, where you are so into the game that you have no concept of time or space.  I was playing on a PC and it was not comfortable using the controls. I guess I need a good book to reach the flow, or bring back Pac-Man or Galaga.

If I use games in my future classes, I will be very attentive to clear instructions and watch for signs of frustration.  Perhaps I would incorporate a journal so that the students could express their feelings, frustrations, successes and give each other tips.  For now I will stick to Farmville 2.  After all the worst thing that can happen is that your crops wilt.

Cellphones-The Debate Continue

I read an interesting article in a blog by Jonathan Rees at Vitae –It’s Not You, It’s Them, I Told Myself

The author spoke about his early experiences teaching abroad and increasing cell phone use occurring during class.  Cell phones and other web enabled devices eventually made their way to the States.  The distractions in the classroom resulted in his university banning cell phones and complaining about students disappearing attention spans.  He also notes that the use of cell phones is really everywhere not just schools.  People get bored in meetings and sneak out their phone to take a peek.  He notes that a technology minded instructor will tell you that the cell phone, tablet etc. can be as much of an opportunity as it can be a distraction.  He has since encouraged their use in classes where the nature of the material makes the use of cellphones beneficial.  He also expresses the concern that if a student cannot pay attention for an hour class they ultimately will be at a disadvantage when they enter the workforce.

In one of my classes we have been discussing the iGeneration.  Some studies speak to this generations great ability to multi-task and still accomplish the things they need to do. Students from this generation say it is hard for them to uni-task  The jury is still out on this as far as my thoughts are concerned.  I fear that this younger generation will suffer for not being held accountable for paying attention.   Yet I think technology can be used to make course work more interesting.

What are your thoughts?

An Adventure in Apps Smashing

My classmates,  and I were given the assignment to come up with a creative way to tell others how to do something using the App Smash process.  After brainstorming, we decided to attempt a humorous approach to cooking.  Namely a Beer Can Chicken.

We began the project by taking digital images of the cooking process, including a few props.  These were then uploaded.  After researching different apps and finding they did not work well,  we finally found Photofy, CapDisLite, OneSrop Photo and iMovie to achieve our goal. Photofy was used to create a recipe card like background. OneStop Photo Notes was used to cut selected areas out of the photo.  Text bubbles were added with  CapDisLite.  The photos were then made into a youtube video via iMovie.

This project gave us the opportunity to try out multiple apps.  It also made us think about how different apps can be used to achieve a goal.  The project cannot always be done from start to finish with one app.  There are so many different apps that can be used.  It helped to google what we wanted to do toe get a list of various apps to try.  We also searched YouTube to see how to use some of the apps.

Here is the Pampered Chicken