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How a Graduate Certificate in UDL can Improve Your Educational Practices

Katie Novak
Katie Novak
August 31, 2022

Why a Graduate Certificate in Universal Design for Learning is the Next Step for You

The world is continuing to change and evolve. Gone are the days of “traditional teaching” and with that, we are seeing a shift in other traditional practices. Hybrid Teaching is expected, grading is being approached differently, and the value of a typical career path trajectory is not what it used to be.  What once was a typical journey of getting good grades in school to moving through higher education has evolved to a jagged trail filled with many paths to get to the end goal. 

As we see companies like Google placing value on certifications in specialized fields and more programs moving online, the value and popularity of certifications are increasing year over year, and for good reason! If you find yourself looking to incorporate the practice of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a graduate certificate program may be something you are looking to explore. Below are 6 reasons how a graduate certification in UDL can help you meet your goals!

1. Career Advancement

Whether you are looking for a career change, looking to advance to the next step in your career, or are meeting requirements put in place from your place of work, the certificate program allows you the opportunity to do just that. 

2. Learn From Those Around You

One of the wonderful things about joining a certificate program is that it introduces you to a range of different backgrounds and mindsets. Not only do you have the opportunity to gain knowledge from your instructors but you also receive the opportunity to interact with your peers. 

For example, in the graduate program with UPenn (more below), we have found that our courses are filled with educators from different areas of the world and from various areas of focus (ex. Administration, coaches, early educators, higher education, EdTech etc).

3. Move with “The Times”

There is a reason that the popularity of certificate programs is trending upward – it offers the opportunity to focus your interests and path to learning in an efficient amount of time and for a reasonable cost (opposed to a full graduate program). According to a survey from BestColleges, high school and college students' emphasis on skills-based learning is starting to take precedence over a post-secondary education and employers are beginning to abandon degree requirements in favor of skills-based hiring.

4. Flexibility

With a mix of asynchronous and synchronous sessions, you gain the opportunity to complete assignments and course modules on your own time while still receiving the option to gain invaluable feedback and exposure to top professionals in the field. Despite your time zone, family, or work schedule, you can plan the course within your own schedule. 

This style also adheres to different learning preferences:

  • If you find that you are deadline-driven – you can adhere to deadlines, or 
  • If you find you work better by pacing assignments overtime, your instructors are flexible!

5. Practice What You Preach

As you go through the course, you will find that each step of the way is universally designed so that you can see UDL in action as you prepare to administer it to your education practice. 

6. You’ll enjoy it! 

Don’t listen to us, let the course reviews speak for themselves:

George Couros and Katie Novak have opened the doors wide open for me through this class. It has impacted my current practice as an English teacher. That impact goes beyond me as I have shared ideas from the class with my colleagues. This learning experience also has me re-envisioning what may be next for me professionally. It has been empowering. I had many a-ha moments. I started a blog. I posted my first Tweet. I learned from my classmates. I reflected on who I am as a teacher and as a person. What I learned helped me feel positive, hopeful, and energized. I originally wondered if I could juggle this class amidst the demands of teaching; I’m so glad I did. PLN41A firmly sits amongst the top three professional development/learning experiences I’ve had as a teacher in seventeen years. That’s not just a function of the content—it’s a function of the strong teaching and support. Anyone in education should take this class!

- Kathy Mattson

Earn a graduate certificate in Universal Design for Learning from The Penn Literacy Network of The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In these courses, we’ll share the power and promise of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and the Innovator’s Mindset and provide learners with options, choices, and opportunities to reflect, create, connect, and innovate. This certificate program consists of 2 courses, each worth  1.13 Course Units = 4.5 Continuing Education Graduate Credits.

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