College STAR leaders help Train the Trainers

The focus was on helping students be the best learners they can be when representatives from three schools gathered to hear more about College STAR program activities for faculty and students.

The venue was the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and colleagues from Sewanee were joined by representatives from Birmingham-Southern and Centre College in Danville Kentucky. The occasion was a one-day Train the Trainer event featuring Lillian Nave, UDL Coordinator at Appalachian State University, and Dr. Jennifer Williams, East Carolina University Project Director for College STAR, both active leaders in the College Star program.

Thanks to a grant from the Associated Colleges of the South, Nave and Williams were able to break the concepts of Universal Design for Learning apart and demonstrate how they could benefit both faculty and students. Nave gave presentations on the What, Why and How of Learning while Williams focused on Learning Differences and Learning Variability.

They modeled their approach by providing participants with a variety of resources in multiple formats both before, during and after the day-long interactive session.

“All of the topics covered in the training were relevant and useful,” said W. David Miller, Director of Accessibility at Birmingham-Southern College.  “Some of the most valuable information learned was about resources which provide methods and materials to integrate UDL into teaching through engaging activities and accessible formats.”

His colleague Angela W. Smith, Coordinator of Accessibility at Birmingham-Southern, agreed.  “Instructors and other professionals who interact with students can apply what was learned and what will be learned in seemingly small ways that will make a big impact on learners,” she said.   “One example would be to provide several varied methods and formats for accessing whether students master the course objectives, rather than only one or two options.”

Smith and Miller said they plan to share highlights of what they learned in various faculty professional development opportunities and will offer more in-depth training to small groups who express an interest in learning more.   They also plan to provide faculty with the opportunity to hear directly from students with a variety of learning needs about the challenges they encounter and what strategies teachers have used that have been most effective for their learning…