UDL Conference 2021

Climbing the UDL Ladder:
Building a Culture of Inclusion in Higher Education

Conference Details

Conference Speakers


Conference Presentations & Recordings

Conference Details

Note: This event has now ended.  Scroll down to read and watch presentations from the day.



Conference Date: Wednesday 26th May 2021, 9.30am – 4pm

This CUA Universal Design for Learning (UDL) conference will investigate a myriad of approaches to UDL through an exploration of shared best inclusive practice. Through creating an awareness of a cross-campus approach to implementing a culture of inclusion and diversity, the Institute of Technology Sligo (IT Sligo) has made significant strides in climbing the UDL ladder to bring this vision to reality. The teaching and learning framework that is UDL has guided this transition to provide for a high-quality educational experience. Together with our partners Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT) and Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), IT Sligo welcomes colleagues across all higher education institutions to examine and reflect on your UDL practices within your programme to ensure the student learning experience provides for the unique learning needs of students in a changing world.

Conference Themes:

I.                      Student engagement & capturing the student voice

Presenters will guide conference participants through the shift needed in the teaching dynamic to one of collaborative curriculum development and allowing students to engage in the process so that they can take control and ownership of their learning process. Presentations will discuss curriculum redesigns that facilitates students to set their own pace and goals and evaluate their own progress.

II.                    Improving the student experience through digital enhancement

This segment provides a thorough discussion on the impact of digital enhancement using UDL principles. This includes curriculum redesigns that have sought to reduce student challenges by providing helpful relevant digital tools to aid understanding in their subject material.

III.                  Learning through Covid-19: Flipping the classroom using UDL

Were your students feeling isolated in their learning due to Covid-19 restrictions?  This segment focuses on curriculum redesigns that involve the use of the UDL framework to ‘flip the classroom’ to foster student engagement and peer collaboration.

IV.                  Authentic Student Experience: showcasing UDL teaching approaches

Presentations which showcase UDL teaching approaches that consider lecturers real world experience and prompt students to engage as the practitioner. Curriculum redesigns that increase student motivation through any of the following teaching approaches such as: work-based learning, enquiry-based learning, or problem-based learning approaches.

V.                    Adopting Alternative Assessment Practices through a UDL lens

Presentations will address alternative pathways to student success which remove potential barriers making learning goals attainable. Alternative representation examples of flexible options available in an assessment which can enhance access, support learner performance, and reduce possible perceived threats.

Download the Conference Brochure here.

Conference Speakers

Keynote Speaker: Frederic Fovet

Frederic Fovet is an Associate Professor within the School of Education and Technology at Royal Roads University, in Victoria, BC, Canada.  He is also Program Head for the MA in Educational Leadership and Management.  Frederic‘s research and practice focus on Inclusion; his work is grounded in Disability Studies.  During his Phd, Frederic took on the role of director of accessibility at McGilll for a period of 4 years.  During that time he was responsible for rolling out Universal Design for Learning across campus and supporting faculty in a process of management of change; he has also explored in his research how UDL affects accessibility services in higher education and their format.  Frederic remains heavily involved in UDL, both in terms of research and on the ground implementation, and he works as a consultant with schools, colleges and universities.   Frederic was instigator and Program Chair for the three first Pan-Canadian Conferences on UDL which took place in 2015, 2017 and 2019 in Montreal, Charlottetown and Victoria respectively.

Guest Speakers

Lisa Padden

Dr Lisa Padden has worked in University College Dublin (UCD) since 2012 and her current role is as  Project Lead for UCD’s University for All initiative, based in UCD Access & Lifelong Learning. University for All is UCD’s whole-institution approach to student inclusion encompassing strategy and policy, teaching, learning and assessment, student supports and services, the built environment and technological infrastructure. Lisa’s research interests include Universal Design for Learning, widening participation, equitable access to education, and student inclusion.

Trevor Boland

Trevor Boland is the Digital and eLearning Officer in AHEAD and has worked for almost 20 years in Education. He joined the AHEAD family a year ago and, in that time, he has been part of the National UDL Badge rollout in 2020. He has brought knowledge from his previous role of Assistive Technology Officer that has informed the AT recourse in AHEAD called ‘AT Hive’ that advocates more AT awareness in Education and Employment. In AHEAD he delivers Assistive Tech workshops, supports the positive message of UDL and how it addresses issues of inclusion as well as promotes accessibility awareness. UDL, Assistive Tech and Accessibility all overlap and are key to removing barriers and enabling all to participate to their fullest extent. 

Welcome and Opening the Conference

Minister Simon Harris T.D 

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science

Oral Presenters

Oral Presenters

Theme I - Student Engagement & Capturing the Student Voice

Presenter: Laura Hegarty, GMIT
Title of Presentation: What is UDL and how it can be embedded into our practice.

Laura is a lecturer in Technology and Design in the School of Business at GMIT with a specialist interest in UDL. Laura holds substantial experience having worked in IT industry and higher education for the past 20 years. Laura lectures at undergraduate, postgraduate, and executive levels.

: Dr. Natalie Delimata, IT Sligo
Title of Presentation: Using the Power of Stars to Motivate.

Natalie lectures in Creative Practice, Community Development and Ethics in the Department of Social Science, IT Sligo. She has qualifications in Social Care Practice (TUD) and Design (NCAD) and has two decades of experience working in Social Care and Community Arts.

Theme II - Improving the Student Experience through Digital Enhancement

Presenter: Dr. Sheila Faherty, GMIT
Title of Presentation: Games in Moodle; a student view of what games offer

Sheila has worked as a lecturer in biological science in third level institutions for over 16 years. Intrigued with student engagement and satisfaction with VLE activities Sheila was an early adopter of Moodle quizzes and worked for two years as a learning technologist in Athlone Institute of Technology in tandem to her lecturing role. Sheila moved to the School of Science in GMIT in 2015.

: Dr. Cormac Flynn, GMIT
Title of Presentation: Providing multiple means of representation for physiology students through Moodle lessons

Cormac is a lecturer in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering in GMIT. He previously was a lecturer and research associate in New Zealand and Canada

Theme III - Learning through Covid – Flipping the Classroom

Presenter: Dr. Ailish Breen, IT Sligo
Title of Presentation: Backflipping and Somersaulting in the Online Environment – Having Students Create Their Own Learning Content.

Ailish is a lecturer in Biopharmaceutical Science in the Faculty of Science, IT Sligo. She is a biomedical engineer and her primary research is in the field of tissue engineering and medical device innovation, supervising postgraduate research in these areas.

: Jennifer Gilligan, IT Sligo
Title of Presentation: Pandemic Pedagogy! Designing and reviewing Moodle page.

Jennifer is an Instructional Designer in the Centre for Online Learning at IT Sligo. She holds a Masters in ELearning and Interactive Teaching Technologies. As an Instructional Designer she works to support and train academic staff in the use of appropriate technologies for teaching and learning. Jennifer has worked on National Forum funded research projects which focused on the theme of ‘Transitions’ namely; ‘A Learning Journey MOOC’ and the development of ‘The Student Success Toolbox’ both outputs designed to support difficult educational transitions, increase retention and aid programme completion.

Theme IV - Authentic Student Experience: Showcasing UDL Teaching Approaches

Presenter: Dr. Pauline Logue, GMIT
Title of Presentation: Celebrating Inclusion and Diversity in the Classroom: Explorations with Pre-service Teachers on the Implementation of UDL Principles in School Placement.

Pauline is a Lecturer in Education and programme chair of the MA in Teaching and Learning degree programme, GMIT. As an educationalist, she has wide experience, having worked in both mainstream education, at second and third level, and in alternative community-based educational settings.

: Dr. Gerard McGranaghan, IT Sligo
Title of Presentation: Use of Home Experiments to enhance student experiential learning in Mechanical Engineering.

Gerard lectures in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, IT Sligo. He began his career in Mechanical Engineering as a Fitter/Turner with the ESB, and as well as Trade Certificates, he holds Technician Certificates from City and Guilds and a BSc from the Open University.

Theme V - Adopting Alternative Assessment Practices through a UDL Lens

Presenter: Paul Ferry, IT Sligo
Title of Presentation
: Assessment Without Borders: Accessible assessment techniques and evaluation tools.

Paul is an Assistant Lecturer in the department of Mechanical and Manufacturing, IT Sligo. He holds a MA in Learning, Teaching and Assessment and a Professional Diploma in Education through the University of Limerick. He also holds Bachelor degrees in Engineering and Mathematics and a National Craft Certificate in Fitting/Turning.

: Lisa Cronin, IT Sligo
Title of Presentation: Adapting to Covid-19, incorporating Universal Design into a first year assessment

Lisa is a lecturer in water and wastewater science at IT Sligo and lectures across several programmes in the Dept. of Environmental Science and the Dept. of Civil Engineering & Construction. Prior to joining IT Sligo in 2018, she spent 20 years working in the water services sector in Ireland.

Conference Presentations & Recordings

Poster Presentations

The Poster Presentation Catalogue for the conference can be viewed here or downloaded here.

Video Presentations

Presentations over the day have been split into four videos below.  Click on the name of the speaker to downlonad the slides used on the day.

1) Opening of the Conference
– Dr. Niamh Plunkett – Head of Teaching & Learning, IT Sligo
– Dr. Brendan McCormack – President of IT Sligo
– Minister Simon Harris T.D – Minister for Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation & Science

2) Overview presentation of the National Forum project.

3) Theme I Presentations: Student Engagement & Capturing the Student Voice
Laura Hegarty
Dr. Natalie Delimata

4) Theme II Presentations: Improving the Student Experience through Digital Enhancement.
Dr. Sheila Faherty
Dr. Cormac Flyn

1) Theme III Presentations: Learning through Covid-19: Flipping the Classroom using UDL
Dr. Ailish Breen
Jennifer Gilligan

2) Theme IV Presentations: Authentic Student Experience: Showcasing the UDL Teaching Approaches
Dr. Pauline Logue
Dr. Gerard McGranaghan

1) Theme V Presentations: Adopting Alternative Assessment Practices through a UDL Lens
Paul Ferry
Lisa Cronin

2) AHEAD/UCD Presentation

Keynote Speaker: Frederic Fovet

This conference has been funded by

National Forum