Over the past five years, the University of Minnesota has experienced a significant increase in students seeking disability accommodations in our courses. To address this increase, the Office of the Provost and Office for Equity and Diversity have partnered to implement a required online course for all faculty and instructors on disability accommodations and inclusive course design, with a particular focus on designing courses to support student mental health. The development and implementation of this course closely follows recommendations from the Task Force on Disability Accommodations in the Learning Environment and University governance.
The course content is the result of extensive consultation from systemwide faculty and student stakeholders, including governance committees, student groups, representatives from system academic leadership, the Graduate School, Office of Undergraduate Education, Office of the General Counsel, Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, and Center for Educational Innovation. Additionally, approximately 35 faculty, students, and subject matter experts from across the system provided slide-by-slide feedback.
Is this professional development course for the Twin Cities Campus only, or is it a systemwide effort?
This professional development course is a systemwide initiative. All instructors, including graduate teaching assistants, systemwide will complete the course.
What is involved in the professional development course?
The professional development course consists of three 20-minute modules:
Module 1 - Understanding Disability and Reasonable Accommodation:
Provides an introduction to reasonable accommodations, covers legal and policy foundations, reviews important components of Accommodation Letters, and provides information regarding whom to contact if instructors have questions.
Module 2 - Providing Reasonable Accommodations for Disability:
Provides an overview of the interactive process for identifying and implementing reasonable accommodations, information on how to implement reasonable accommodations, and information regarding when accommodations are not reasonable.
Module 3 - Inclusive Course Design:
Provides an overview of inclusive course design; deeper information about inclusive assessments, inclusive pedagogy, and inclusive course communications; and examples of how inclusive course design can reduce barriers for disabled students, lessen the need for individualized disability accommodations and support the mental health of all students.
Where can I learn more about how to access and complete the professional development course?
Can non-instructors opt to complete the professional development course?
Yes. Staff and students are able to enroll in the course (see Training Hub Learner Guide for instructions). The course title is Fundamentals of Disability Accommodations and Inclusive Course Design (OED201).
Why must instructors participate in the professional development course?
Over the past five years, the University of Minnesota has experienced a significant increase in students seeking disability accommodations in our courses. University Senate and Faculty Senate recommended the development of this training to help instructors understand their legal obligations, as well as to help them design their courses to support student mental health.
How much time will the professional development course take to complete?
The length of time required varies from person to person based on how many of the online resources they access. In most cases, however, the professional development course is expected to take around 60 minutes.
Do I need to complete the professional development course in one sitting?
No. The system tracks your progress and you can return to complete the course at a later date.
What should I do if I require accommodations for this course because of disability?
Contact Disability Resource Center/UReturn to make accommodation requests. The University is committed to making the course information available to all of its instructors and staff.
If you have questions about the accommodation process on your campus, contact your local Disability Resource office:
How did this professional development course come about?
In Spring 2019, the Senate Committee on Disabilities Issues introduced a resolution recommending professional development on effective practices for supporting disabled students for University faculty, instructors, and student services staff systemwide. The University Senate and Faculty Senate voted to endorse the resolution in November 2019.
In December 2020, Provost Croson convened the Task Force on Disability Accommodations in the Learning Environment. The Task Force was charged with making recommendations for professional development and effective practices in implementing accommodations in the learning environment. Task Force members consulted with an estimated 300 instructors and students representing 22+ committees and academic departments across the University system. These consultations evidenced that there is significant support for such a required professional development course for instructors.
How was the professional development course developed?
The course was developed by the Executive Vice President and Provost in partnership with the Office for Equity and Diversity. The course content was created by the University of Minnesota, for the University of Minnesota, in partnership with a course-building vendor called Flare Learning.
Governance committees, student groups, representatives from system academic leadership, the Graduate School, the Office of Undergraduate Education, the Office of the General Counsel, the Office for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, and the Center for Educational Innovation were among the numerous groups consulted on course development. More than 35 faculty, students, and subject matter experts from across the system provided slide-by-slide feedback on course content.
Is there an email address to contact if I have specific questions about the course content?
Do I have to complete the professional development course?
This course is required for all faculty, graduate teaching assistants, and other instructors at the University as part of their job responsibilities, as was recommended by the University and Faculty Senates. The course is one of the many important steps that the University is taking to create an accessible and inclusive environment where all can thrive.
Based on consultation with Human Resources professionals and other stakeholders from across the system, it was determined that individuals in certain job codes are required to complete the course. Most individuals in these job codes have teaching responsibilities. However, the course was also developed to be valuable to individuals in these job codes who do not currently have teaching responsibilities.
Given the large number of individuals in the specified job codes, the University is generally unable to consider individual requests for exemption from the course completion requirement. Please contact your HR representative with any questions.
My question isn't addressed here.
Are instructors with adjunct appointments required to complete this course?
Adjunct instructors (and all other University members) may opt to complete the course by searching for the course title Fundamentals of Disability Accommodations and Inclusive Course Design (OED201) in the Training Hub course catalog.
Some adjunct instructors may be required by their college or campus leadership to complete the course.
How do I confirm that my course completion has been recorded?
Your course completion will be recorded when you click the “Complete Course” button on the final slide of the course. You should then be marked as having completed the course in Training Hub. If you have completed the course, but have not been registered as complete in Training Hub, please contact the OIT Help Desk at 612-301-4357.
Are newly hired instructors required to complete the course?
Yes. New instructors are enrolled in the course in August and January of each year, and required to complete it within 30 days