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New Certificate Offers Educators Edge on Creating Innovative Learning Environments

by Solvegi Shmulsky

Kathleen share thoughts at grduation“This program makes you more open, gives you more resources, and makes you a better teacher. You’ll like your job more because you invested in yourself—and your students will be better because you cared enough to develop yourself.” - Kathleen DeBruyn, UD-TI Graduate

Landmark College proudly offers a certificate for education professionals in Universal Design: Technology Integration (UD-TI), with a graduate credit option through the Marlboro College Graduate School. Compelling for its simplicity and inclusive ethic, universal design is the concept that learning environments should be engineered to be maximally accessible to all individuals. The UD-TI Certificate uniquely prepares educators to create learning environments in which all students thrive regardless of their learning preferences and abilities. 

Why is UD needed? Educators’ jobs are complex because “student learning profiles are ever-evolving,” said Dr. Peter Eden, Landmark College President. “Many educators, counselors and other professionals tell us that they must learn more to keep up with best practices needed to reach these students in a learning environment.”

Filling her daily practice with “best practices” is what Kathleen DeBruyn, summer 2013 graduate of the UD-TI Certificate program plans to do.  She said, “My motivation for earning the certificate was to get more immersed in universal design for learning—to own it, to wear it, to bring all parts of UD into my practice.”

The diagnosis of learning disabilities, ADHD, and ASD—conditions that benefit from UD—has been increasing for 30 years. Students with these conditions are part of regular classrooms across the country, and at the college level, students are unlikely to disclose their disability or receive accommodations. To be effective, educators need approaches that work with a wide range of learning abilities.  

“UD is a mindset rather than a to-do list,” said Dr. Manju Banerjee, Vice President and Director of the Landmark College Institute for Research and Training, who oversees the UD-TI Certificate program. “UD asks us to think proactively about learner diversity and learning differences, and to embrace instructional practices that support these differences. It is anchored in the innate neuro-diversity of how we think and learn.”

The Landmark College UD-TI Certificate program equips educators with the tools they need to work with diverse learners.  “Students are introduced to cutting edge UD research, practice and technologies,” said Dr. Banerjee. “They learn credible evidence-based practices from Landmark College which has been engaged in UD application for nearly 30 years,” she continued, “and they have the opportunity to create peer reviewed UD products and materials to take away and use.”

This one year, low-residency program blends face-to-face time with a substantial online component, making it a feasible option for busy educators and professionals.  Program participants take four eight-week courses and complete a capstone project. They may apply to receive graduate credit for their completed coursework through partner institution Marlboro College. 

Students in the UD-TI Certificate program will—

  • Learn up-to-date information about neuro-developmental conditions that affect learning, such as dyslexia and other learning disabilities, ADHD, and ASD
  • Acquire in-depth understanding of principles and applications of universal design in education
  • Discover the dynamic role of assistive technology in creating accessible instruction within the context of universal design
  • Create universal design products and materials that can be used immediately to enhance educational practice

“My biggest hope is that students in the program bring the universal design framework back to their educational settings,” said Linda Hecker, UD-TI program faculty, “so that students with diverse learning needs are better served all across the country.”

Why should educators come to Landmark College to study universal design? “There is no better place to learn about UD and assistive technology than from an institution which not just employs these things to help college students, but does it every day as part of our overall philosophical and pedagogical culture,” said Dr. Eden.

Landmark College was the first institution of higher learning to pioneer college-level studies for students with dyslexia. Today Landmark College, offering two and four-year degree options, a certificate in universal design with technology integration, and summer programs for students who learn differently, is a global leader in integrated teaching methods for students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities, ADHD, and ASD. Students, faculty, and other professionals from all over the world are drawn to Landmark College for its innovative educational model, designed through research and practice to help all students who learn differently become confident, self-empowered, and independently successful learners.

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