Lunchtime Learning and Building an Online UDL Community at NUI Galway

Ennis, Jane, Molloy, Kate and Savery, Daniel Lunchtime Learning and Building an Online UDL Community at NUI Galway.


NUI Galway launched a rollout of the National Forum's digital badge in Universal Design for Teaching and Learning in September 2020, just a few weeks before the government direction to move almost all teaching fully online at the start of the new academic year. This was the first time that the digital badge was offered to all those who teach in our University. The National Forum's open-access programmes can easily be facilitated in each institution's local context, and provide the flexibility to move online given the current circumstances. While many in the sector are noticing webinar-fatigue, facilitating a short course online has had the opposite effect. Peer groups are using the space to meet and collaborate, and attendance at drop-in sessions and webinars has highlighted that our local UDL community is blossoming online. The digital badge is a light touch - we offered three lunchtime webinars and five lunchtime virtual drop-in sessions, where participants could join us for a chat about their redesign activity and all things UDL, between September and November. Participants were encouraged to form peer groups with those in other areas of NUI Galway, preferably with people they had not met before. In this way we hoped that participants would be exposed to, and learn from, practices in other parts of the University. The feedback that we have received so far suggests that the peer group activities were crucial to the success of the badge. In this session, those involved in the rollout will discuss the merits and drawbacks of the digital badge as a means to promote and embed Universal Design across the University, even in the midst of a global emergency. We will reflect on how the badge created opportunities for informal connections and exchanges during a time of unprecedented upheaval, and helped to form the basis for an informal network of UDL practitioners across NUI Galway.

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