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Call for Proposals for CAST's 5th Annual UDL Symposium: Becoming Expert Learners

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How are you applying UDL to support the development of expert learners? Submit your proposal today!

Proposals are due Sunday, March 3, 2019 by 11:59pm ET via the online submission form.
The CAST 5th Annual UDL Symposium: Becoming Expert Learners will be held August 7-9, 2019 in Cambridge, MA. Learn more about this year's Symposium.

The framework of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) consistently focuses on a crucial goal: to support the development of “expert learners”—learners “who are, each in their own way, resourceful and knowledgeable; strategic and goal-directed; and purposeful and motivated” (Rose & Gravel, 2013, pp. 82-84). The UDL framework emphasizes the value of continuous learning, defining expertise “not as a destination but rather as a process of becoming more expert on a continuum of development” (Meyer, Rose, & Gordon, 2014, p. 23). With expert learning as a goal, learners are continually growing in order to navigate an ever-changing future of learning, including meaningful engagement with our work, our citizenship, and our communities. This goal has inspired countless educators, researchers, curriculum developers, workforce innovators, and more to design learning opportunities that support individuals to develop rich strategies, dispositions, and practices and to engage in becoming expert learners.

Yet at the same time, this goal of nurturing the development of expert learners has felt somewhat elusive to the field. What does expert learning look like, sound like, and feel like? How do we apply UDL to support the development of expert learners? How does expert learning differ across disciplines, age groups, and contexts? How might we articulate the values of expert learning—for what purposes, for whom, and toward what ends? While the goal of expert learning seems to be shared among the field, a concrete, nuanced vision of an “expert learner” is still emerging.

The 2019 UDL Symposium will provide a time to learn from the diversity of ways that the field is leveraging UDL to support and sustain the development of expert learners. And at the same time, this gathering will allow us to examine, critique, and more fully develop what it means to embrace the goal of expert learning.

Goals for the 2019 UDL Symposium

This year’s Symposium will be an opportunity to come together as a field to explore what we mean by becoming expert learners. By engaging in sessions designed to encourage hands-on exploration, problem-solving, and critical conversations, participants will explore the promise and the future of expert learning. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of the goal of supporting expert learners and with concrete examples of ways to leverage UDL for this critical aim. It is our hope that participants will also leave with the motivation to continue to extend conversations of expert learning with a new network of colleagues. The 2019 UDL Symposium will not only be an opportunity for participants to explore and experience expert learning, but also to engage with becoming expert learners themselves.

Proposal Information

We are seeking a diverse group of presenters who will offer thought-provoking sessions, extending the discussion beyond introductory UDL content and examining this year’s theme in depth. We encourage you to share your research, examples, successes, challenges, and critiques. Possible proposal topics may include:

  • More fully articulating and critiquing the definition of expert learners.
  • Highlighting examples and findings from practice that reveal how UDL can be applied to support the development of expert learners.
  • Exploring expert learning across different contexts and disciplines (e.g. expert learning in particular content areas, in the workplace, in a professional learning community, in community centers, in public libraries, in museums, etc.).
  • Exploring expert learning in traditionally underserved communities—people of color, people with disabilities, English language learners, incarcerated youth or adults, those who are unemployed, etc.
  • Ensuring access and opportunities to engage in expert learning.
  • Examining the values associated and implied with expert learning. Expert learning for what purposes, for whom, and toward what ends?
  • Developing a strategic, purposeful, and resourceful workforce.
  • Designing approaches to introduce and engage students and faculty as expert learners across campuses in higher education.
  • Supporting expert learners to connect globally.

Do you have another idea? We are hoping to learn from you, so please submit a proposal to help us learn more about leveraging UDL to support the development of expert learners.

Target Audience

The target audience for the Symposium includes educators (general and special education, early childhood, K-12, higher education, career and technical) working both inside and outside of classrooms, administrators, curriculum designers, technology leaders, specialists, advocacy groups, workforce trainers, activists, researchers, parents, and more.

Session Formats

There are several session options described below. If you choose to submit more than one proposal, please create a separate submission for each. Individuals will be considered for no more than two proposals.

  • 20-Minute Flash Session: These brief sessions offer the opportunity to share new research, ideas, and protocols and can take several formats:
    • Flash Presentation: These presentations should be extremely tightly planned, engaging, and inspiring.
    • Flash Discussion: You may use this time to moderate a group discussion on a provocative topic.
    • Flash Experience: If you would like to demonstrate or create an experience that supports or exemplifies expert learning, this is a unique opportunity to model a quick experience for feedback or inspiration.
  • 50- or 80-Minute Interactive Breakout Session:
    • A typical Interactive Breakout Session allows participants to actively engage in practical application, discussion, protocols, or group interaction for the majority of the session.
    • We encourage you to get creative during these sessions by facilitating a panel discussion, involving participants in a maker activity, moderating a case study, organizing a debate, or other creative idea.
  • Digital or Interactive Poster Session: This format provides an opportunity to share current implementation progress, successes, research findings, and lessons learned through a multimedia format. It also allows presenters to engage in conversation with a wide variety of participants.
  • Other: If you have another idea or option that you prefer, please let us know.

Presenters' Responsibilities:

We ask presenters to agree to the following expectations:

  • Up to 3 presenters from a single session will receive 10% off of registration.
  • Presenters are responsible for their own transportation and accommodations.
  • Presenters will add their information to the public schedule by July 1, 2019 (the CAST Symposium team will provide guidance). This information includes:
    • Headshot
    • Brief biography
    • Session information
  • Presenters will add session materials to the public schedule by July 15, 2019. These materials may include:
    • Slides
    • Handouts
    • Videos
    • Web links
    • Any other needed materials
  • Presenters agree to make all materials (slides, handouts, video, etc.) and in-person interactions accessible and inclusive (the CAST Symposium team will provide guidance).

Deadlines & Notifications

Deadline for proposals is Sunday, March 3, 2019 by 11:59 pm ET (UTC -5). You will be notified of whether or not your proposal has been selected no later than April 15, 2019.

Proposal Submission

Please note: Our submission form was created using SurveyGizmo. You will not be able to save your work to complete over multiple sessions. We have created a downloadable preview of the form to help you prepare your proposal prior to beginning the submission process. Proposal submissions will only be accepted via the online submission form.

Acceptance Criteria

Proposals will be reviewed to ensure that they address the following criteria:

  • Does the proposal clearly connect to the Symposium theme: Becoming Expert Learners?
  • Does the proposal reveal evidence of a deep understanding of expert learning?
  • Does the proposal articulate a clear, challenging session goal?
  • Does the proposal clearly explain how the design of the session anticipates potential barriers to participants achieving the session goal?
  • Does the proposal clearly explain how the design of the session will minimize barriers to the goal?
  • Does the proposal clearly explain how the design of the session will gather evidence to determine whether participants achieve the goals of the session?

Learn more about CAST's Annual UDL Symposium