SPED 501 01: Diseases and Function of the Eye

SPED 501 - Diseases and Function of the Eye

2023 Fall Syllabus, Section 01, CRN 15303

Course Information

You are responsible for knowing this material, so please read carefully. Any changes will be announced in a Blackboard Announcement. You will be responsible for any changes. Your continued enrollment in this course is your implicit agreement to abide by the requirements of this class.

August 30        Last day to drop course w/o record

October 29      Last day to drop course or withdraw from school

Times and Location

Online (asynchronous)

Instructor Information

Renae Bjorg

Email: renae.bjorg@und.edu

2023 Fall Office Hours:
Monday 11:00-2:00 or by appointment. If you would like to schedule an appointment to meet (via phone, audiovisual, or in-person conferences) simply contact the instructor via email. When emailing to schedule an appointment, list several dates and times that you are available.

Office Phone: 701-777-6760

Course Description

A course which introduces students to: a) the structural parts of the eye and its functions; b) common ocular conditions and diseases; c) educational implications; d) interpretation of medical eye examination reports; and e) the development of the human visual system.

A course which introduces students to: a) the structural parts of the eye and its functions; b) common ocular conditions and diseases and their implications for education; c) interpretation of medical eye examination reports; and d) special considerations for infant, school-age academic, multiple disabilities and adult populations.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify parts of the eye (BVI.1.K1; InTASC 1)
  2. Describe the effects of specific eye conditions, and potential impact on learning (BVI.1.K4; InTASC 1, InTASC 2; CAEP 1)
  3. Define key terminology related to the human visual system (BVI.4.K1, BVI.4.K3, BVI.6.K4)

Course Materials

Required Reading:

OphthoBook  by Timothy Root, M.D.

You may download this book for free or purchase it online or at the UND bookstore.

Recommended Reading (not required):

Root Dictionary by Timothy Root, M.D.

 Root Eye Dictionary (You may download this book for free or purchase it online or at the UND bookstore.)

Additional readings are posted under each lesson for you to download.

Technical Requirements/Assistance

Whether you’re taking courses in the classroom or online, it’s important to have the right technology and equipment.  Visit the UND Technical Requirements webpage for more information. Students are expected to use their official UND email in the course. For technical assistance, please contact UND Technical Support at 701.777.2222. Visit the University Information Technologies (UIT) website for their hours, help documents and other resources.

Minimum Technical Skills Needed

In order to succeed in this course, at a minimum, you should be able to:

  • Navigate in and use basic Blackboard functions
  • Download and open electronic documents
  • Create, save, and upload/attach electronic documents
  • Send, receive, and manage email

Course Logistics

Access and Log in Information

This course was developed and will be facilitated utilizing Blackboard. To get started with the course, please go to: http://blackboard.UND.edu and log in with your NDUS.Identifier, Username and Password. If you do not know your NDUS Identifier or have forgotten your password, please visit Your NDUS Account page on the UIT website.

Course Format:

  • Blackboard will be utilized in this course for the following:  making announcements, sending emails, using discussion forums, posting weekly lessons, posting handouts, posting assignments, submitting assignments, managing grades, and other tasks for completing the course. You are responsible for familiarizing yourself with the technology needed for this class.
  • This course is going to be conducted like an independent study, with appropriate student interaction and 16 lessons. Lessons are considered "class time;" similar to the time a student would spend in class if a student took this course face-to-face.  Plan on spending at least 1-3 hours on each Lesson.


Many services are available to UND students such as writing assistance from the UND Writing Center, free online tutoring from Smarthinking, and more. Visit the Student Resources page for more information. Students also have access to the UND Student Resource Site via Blackboard. It is recommended that you become familiar with the tools and tutorials within the site to better equip you in navigating the course.

Course Requirements/Expectations

  1. The student will review the syllabus and course schedule posted in Blackboard.
  2. The student will access and follow all course instructions found in the weekly area of the Blackboard course.
  3. The student will participate in any lecture or discussion sessions on campus or online as provided and as part of this course.
  4. The student will complete and submit assignments, exams, quizzes, etc. by the dated noted and in the manner described in Blackboard and on the course schedule. We will use Central Standard Time for due dates and times.
  5. The student will participate fully and in a timely manner to get the benefit of learning from instructor and/or peers.
  6. Participation is highly valued. Please submit assignments on time unless you make special arrangements with me prior to the date that the assignment is due. If you do not contact me, one point per day will be deducted for late assignments. Should you need an extension, communicate with me in advance. For most situations, an extension will be granted, unless making this request has become patterned.

Instructor Responsibilities and Feedback

  • Assignments will be graded one week after the due date pending any unforeseen circumstances. If an assignment is not corrected within one week, please realize an unforeseen circumstance has occurred. Assignments that are submitted in advance of the due date will be graded when the assignment is due.
  • The instructor will be available during appointed Office Hours to answer questions, provide feedback, and offer advice.


  • When the instructor needs to communicate with student groups, she will post an announcement through Blackboard. To stay informed, she recommends checking the Announcements section daily.
  • When the instructor needs to communicate with students individually, she will do so through the student’s official UND email. It is important to check your UND email daily.  
  • I will check my email and Blackboard Monday-Friday. All communications will be answered in a timely manner (generally within 24 hours on weekdays). If you are interested in virtual office hours, please email me with potential dates/times that you are available. If you do not hear from me in a reasonable amount of time, please resend the email. I welcome your communications!
  • When emailing me with a specific question, include the course number you are enrolled in and the lesson you are referencing, so I can answer your question promptly.  If you simply email me referring to the “assignment,” I won’t be able to answer your question until you provide specificsJ.
  • Use professional courtesy when emailing the instructor. Include the name of the instructor (do not use, “Hey”). Do not use texting contractions.

Discussion Forums, Blogs, & Wikis

These tools are an excellent way for you to engage with the course material and with your peers. Each week we will have at least one of these tools for you to participate in. You are expected to read all assigned discussion boards, blog posts, and/or wiki pages and provide thoughtful contributions.

Course Etiquette

When participating in class (online or in person) it is important to interact with your peers in an appropriate manner. Always use professional language (no netspeak) in your postings and emails. Please be respectful of your classmates at all times even if you disagree with their ideas.

Grading Criteria

100% - 92% A

91.9% - 84% B

83.9% - 76% C

75.9% - 68% D

67.9% and below F

Course Activities

Course Calendar (Schedule)

Modules are released on Mondays and the assignments are due the following Mondays by 8:00 am CT.

Discussion Board initial posts are due Thursdays by 8:00 am CT. Follow-up posts are due Mondays by 8:00 am.  (Assignment due dates are posted in the Course Schedule in Blackboard.)

Reading assigned materials and watching videos will be important for preparation to participate in discussion sessions, posting answers to the discussion board, taking quizzes, and completing research projects.

Discussion Boards

There will be five (5) discussion questions posted on the discussion board. These discussions will be based on specific articles or videos that will be assigned in addition to your normal readings. Do not wait until the last minute to post your responses. In order to receive full credit, your initial response is required by  8:00 am CT on Thursdays of the week it is due. Responses must be to at least three other students in the course and are due by 8:00 a.m. Central Time on Monday of the following week.

Discussion Board #1: Lesson 1 - Mini-biography with your personal educational and vision story

Discussion Board #2: Lesson 3 - Case reports. “Pervasive Developmental Disorder vs. Childhood Disintegrative Disorder” and “Bilateral Optic Nerve Hypoplasia”

Discussion Board #3: Lesson 6 - “25 Facts About Your Eyes”

Discussion Board #4: Lesson 11 – Dr. Sue Barry (videos)

Discussion Board #5: Lesson 16 – Vision and Reading

Discussion Board Rubric 50 points (5 at 10 points each)

The discussion questions are located in Lessons 1, 3, 6, 11, and 16.

1-3 Points 4-6 Points 7-10 Points

-Minimal response to the questions

-Are rudimentary and superficial, there is no evidence of insight or analysis

-Contributes no new ideas, connections or applications

-Posting responds to the questions but does not stimulate further class discussion

-Are generally competent, but the actual information seems thin and commonplace

-Makes limited connections

-Contains few ideas or applications

-Posting fully addresses the questions and stimulates at least one substantial follow-up question

-Deliver information that is full of thought, insight, analysis

-Make connections to previous or current content or to real-life situations

-Contain rich and fully developed new ideas, connections or applications

Quizzes (9 at 10 points each)

The quizzes are located in Lessons 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, and 15. The quizzes will be available week 2 of the semester. Quizzes are generally 10-20 questions and based on the course textbook.

Fact Sheet Project

Create a fact sheet geared for parents and/or general education teachers to provide them with pertinent information about a specific eye condition. Include the name of the eye condition/disease; definition; prevalence/incidence; characteristics, symptoms, and/or medical implications; educational implications; educational strategies/tips; target audience; age or grade level to which the information applies; and a minimum of three (3) resources for parents and/or educators. Select the eye condition from the Sign-up Sheet Wiki in Blackboard. Fact sheets are meant to emphasize key aspects in a concise way. Be sure to use terminology that is geared for your target audience. Professional writing (grammar, organization, punctuation, spelling) is required.

Fact Sheet Project Rubric (30 Points)

Due: Lesson 7

Component Criteria Points

Name of Eye Condition/Disease

The eye condition/disease is clearly identified



Defines the eye condition/disease. (bullet points are acceptable.)



Includes prevalence/incidence of eye condition/disease.


Characteristics, symptoms, prognosis, and/or medical implications

Includes characteristics, symptoms, prognosis, and/or medical implications of the eye condition/disease. /5

Educational Implications

Incorporates educational implications (ex., How does the condition/disease impact student learning at home, school, or community?) May include tips for the classroom.


Target Audience

Jargon, terminology and sophistication is geared to parents and/or general education teachers.



Identifies age or grade level of the students to which the information applies (infants, school-aged academic, multiple disabilities).



Includes a minimum of three (3) resources for parents and/or general education teachers.



Professional writing is utilized throughout the flyer/document (grammar, organization, spelling, punctuation).




Course Policies

Assignment Policy

Due dates for each assignment or activity will be posted in Blackboard.

Late Work

If you find that you’re having trouble keeping up in this class, please let me and/or your TA know as soon as possible so we can do what we can to help. Due dates are important insofar as they help you spread out your workload and help us keep the behind-the-scenes aspects of the course as organized as possible. However, late work may be accepted for extenuating circumstances, so please reach out if you know you will need more time or if you are having trouble keeping up. 

Please note: You do not need to disclose or perform trauma when asking for an extension; you just need to let us know (very broadly) that you need help, and we will do what we can to get you back on track in the course.

Class Participation

Students are required to login regularly to the online class site. Students are also required to participate in all class activities such as discussion board, blogs, and wikis Students are expected to attend on campus or synchronous classes, etc.


It is expected that students will complete all requirements for a course during the time frame of the course. For reasons beyond a student’s control, and upon request by the student or on behalf of the student, an incomplete grade may be assigned by the instructor when there is reasonable certainty the student will successfully complete the course without retaking it. The mark “I,” Incomplete, will be assigned only to the student who has been in attendance and has done satisfactory work up to a time within four weeks of the close of the semester, including the examination period, and whose work is incomplete for reasons satisfactory to his or her instructor. More information regarding UND’s Incomplete policy can be found on The Grading System webpage.

Resolution of Problems

Should a problem occur, you should speak to your instructor first. If the problem continues to be unresolved, go to the department chair, and next to the college dean. Should the problem persist, you have the right to go to the provost next, and then to the president.


When participating in class (online or in person) it is important to interact with your peers in an appropriate manner. Netiquette is a set of rules for behaving properly online. Here are a few basic points to remember when communicating in this course:

Be scholarly. Use proper language, grammar, and spelling. Explain your thoughts, justify opinions, and credit the ideas of others by citing scholarly resources. Avoid misinforming others when you are unsure of the answer.  When discussing something and supplying a guess, clearly state that.

Be respectful. Respect the privacy of others. Do not share personal or professional information about others unless permission has been granted. Respect diversity and opinions that differ from their own. Be tactful when you communicate.

Be professional. Everyone should strive to give their best impression online. Truthfulness, accuracy, and running a final spell check are appropriate expectations for university students. Writing in a legible font and limiting the use of emoticons is considered professional behavior. Profanity and participation in hostile interactions, known as flaming, is unprofessional as well as disruptive.

Be polite. Students should address professors and instructors by the appropriate title or requested name. Students should interact online politely, just as they would be expected to do in a physical environment. Sarcasm, rudeness, and writing in all capital letters (shouting) should be avoided.


Everyone has the right to be addressed by the name and personal pronouns that correspond to their gender identity, including non-binary pronouns, for example: they/them/theirs, ze/zir/zirs, etc.

I recognize that preferred names and pronouns may change during the quarter, if at any point during the quarter you would like to be addressed differently, please let me know.

As part of our commitment to inclusion in this course, it is important that all students in this class respect the preferred names and pronouns of their peers. Mistakes in addressing one another may happen. If you make a mistake or are corrected, please briefly apologize and correct yourself.

Technology Statement

In this class we will have a technology policy that is designed to support your attention to one another and to the course material.  We will spend the majority of our time engaged in activities that depend upon you being present and attentive to one another, and course content we will study. We are all challenged these days by the ways in which our digital devices—including laptops, tablets, phones, and watches—can steal our attention away from our immediate surroundings. Technology should be used for educational purposes only during scheduled class times.

Collaboration and Recording (For Online, Hybrid, Hyflex courses)

Sharing personal experiences and opinions is an important part of the learning process. In the (hybrid, hyflex, synchronous, etc.) environment of this course, all of our interactions are recorded (via Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Yuja, etc) and made available to students in the course. The purpose of these recordings is to enhance learning for all students. If your peers make personal statements in this course, consider those comments in the context of our learning goals and do not share them with people outside the course. If you have questions or concerns about any recordings, please contact me.

College/Department Policies

Policies for Students in Educator Preparation Programs

Dispositions:  The Council of Accreditation for Educator Preparation (CAEP) requires the university to monitor the academic progress and dispositions of every student enrolled in a program leading to an education license or credential.  Dispositions refer to a student’s actions and behaviors in terms of professionalism, ethics and human relations. Should a concern arise about a student’s progress or dispositions, faculty, instructors and/or cooperating teachers may request a one-on-one meeting with the teacher candidate or advanced student to discuss areas of strength or concerns.  Written documentation of this conference may be included in the student’s permanent file.  Specific procedures are delineated on the form, Professional Dispositions for UND Teacher Education. 

Essential Abilities Requirements:  Essential abilities are academic performance requirements that refer to those physical, cognitive, and behavioral abilities required for satisfactory completion of all aspects of the educator preparation curriculum and the development of personal attributes required for professional licensure. The candidate must possess or be able to gain these abilities with or without reasonable accommodation. The essential abilities required by the curriculum are reflected by competencies in the following areas: communication, intellectual, behavioral, social, motor, and sensory (Handbook for Teacher Education).

Reasonable accommodations will be afforded to education candidates with disabilities as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.  Students who can no longer perform the essential functions of education candidates must report that to the Associate Dean of Student Services and Assessment and suggest any accommodations that they think will enable them to perform as education candidates.  The Associate Dean will then determine if the suggested accommodations are reasonable or if there are any other reasonable accommodations that can be made.  If accommodations cannot be made, the student may not be able to complete their educational program.

University and College Statements

University Attendance Policy and Procedure.  

Attendance and participation in class activities are considered integral parts of a university education.  It is the University policy that attendance in classes is expected of all students.  If attendance and/or participation are required and will impact grading, it is the responsibility of the instructor to communicate clearly that policy to students during the first week of class in the course syllabus.

Even in situations where an instructor might excuse a class absence, e.g., severe medical situations, family emergencies, military service, or authorized University activities, it is the responsibility of the student, whenever possible, to inform the instructor ahead of time.

University of North Dakota Policies & Resources

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a serious matter, and any deviations from appropriate behavior will be dealt with strongly. At the discretion of the professor, situations of concern may be dealt with as a scholastic matter or a disciplinary matter.

As a scholastic matter, the professor has the discretion to determine appropriate penalties for the student’s workload or grade, but the situation may be resolved without involving many individuals. An alternative is to treat the situation as a disciplinary matter, which can result in suspension from the University, or have lesser penalties. Be aware that I view this as a very serious matter and will have little tolerance and/or sympathy for questionable practices. A student who attempts to obtain credit for work that is not their own (whether that be on a paper, quiz, homework assignment, exam, etc.) will likely receive a failing grade for that item of work, and at the professor’s discretion, may also receive a failing grade in the course. For more information read the Code of Student Life.

Access and Opportunity, Disability Support, & Medical Services

The University of North Dakota is committed to providing equal access to students with documented disabilities. To ensure access to this class and your program, please contact Disability Services for Students (DSS) to engage in a confidential discussion about accommodations for the classroom and clinical settings. Accommodations are not provided retroactively. Students are encouraged to register with DSS at the start of their program. More information can be obtained by email UND.dss@UND.edu or by phone at 701.777.2664.


UND is committed to maintaining a safe learning environment while providing quality learning experiences for our students. COVID-19’s continued presence within our UND community may necessitate changes in classroom management as the academic year progresses. As such, UND asks students and instructors to be flexible when necessary to promote a safe environment for learning. Please do not attend an in-person class or lab if you are feeling ill, particularly if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have been directed by health professionals to quarantine or isolate. If you are not able to attend class or lab, please notify your instructor as soon as possible and discuss options for making up any missed work in order to ensure your ability to succeed in the course. If you will have an extended absence due to serious illness or other uncontrollable circumstances, you may request an absence notification through the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Similarly, if your instructor is ill they may need to cancel class or temporarily move your course to online delivery to ensure that you are able to complete the course successfully.  Instructors may require students to wear masks in the classroom or in the laboratory as a preventative measure designed to facilitate uninterrupted classroom engagement and to facilitate health and safety in the classroom.   If your instructor does require masks in class or in a laboratory, you are expected to comply with that request.

UND also strongly encourages all members of the University community, including students, to get vaccinated, seek out testing when needed, and model positive behavior both on- and off-campus to foster a healthy and safe learning environment for all students. Individuals who would like to discuss disability accommodations regarding masks should contact the Disability Services for Students (DSS) office at 701.777.2664 or UND.dss@UND.edu. Individuals who are unable to wear a mask due to a sincerely held religious belief should contact the UND Equal Opportunity and Title IX Office at 701.777.4171 or UND.EO.TitleIX@UND.edu.

Religious Accommodations

UND offers religious accommodations, which are reasonable changes in the academic environment that enable a student to practice or observe a sincerely held religious belief without undue hardship on the University. Examples include time for prayer or the ability to attend religious events or observe a religious holiday. To request an accommodation, complete the student religious accommodation request form. If you have any questions, you may contact the Equal Opportunity & Title IX Office.

Pregnancy Accommodations

Students who need assistance with academic adjustments related to pregnancy or childbirth may contact the Equal Opportunity & Title IX Office or Academic Affairs to learn about your options. Additional information and services may be found at Pregnancy Resources.

Notice of Nondiscrimination

It is the policy of the University of North Dakota that no person shall be discriminated against because of race, religion, age, color, gender, disability, national origin, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, veteran’s status, or political belief or affiliation and the equal opportunity and access to facilities shall be available to all. Concerns regarding Title IX, Title VI, Title VII, ADA, and Section 504 may be addressed to Donna Smith, Assistant Vice President for Equal Opportunity & Title IX and Title IX/ADA Coordinator, 102 Twamley Hall, 701.777.4171, UND.EO.TitleIX@UND.edu or the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Dept. of Education, 230 S. Dearborn St., 37th Floor, Chicago, IL 60604 or any other federal agency.

Reporting of Discrimination, Harassment, or Sexual Misconduct

If you or a friend has experienced sexual misconduct, such as sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking, please contact the Equal Opportunity & Title IX Office or UND’s Title IX Coordinator, Donna Smith, for assistance: 701.777.4171; donna.smith@UND.edu; or visit the Title IX webpage. You may also contact the Equal Opportunity & Title IX office if you or a friend has experienced discrimination or harassment based on a protected class, such as race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, pregnancy, marital or parental status, veteran's status, or political belief or affiliation.

Faculty Reporting Obligations Regarding Discrimination, Harassment, or Sexual Misconduct

It is important for students to understand that faculty are required to share with UND’s Title IX Coordinator any incidents of sexual misconduct or of discrimination or harassment based on a protected class that they become aware of, even if those incidents occurred in the past or are disclosed as part of a class assignment. This does not mean an investigation will occur if the student does not want that, but it does allow UND to provide resources to help the student continue to be successful at UND. If you have been impacted by discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct, you can find information about confidential support services on the Equal Opportunity & Title IX webpage..

UND Cares Program

How to Seek Help When in Distress

We know that while college is a wonderful time for most students, however, some students may struggle or have issues that arise. You may experience students in distress on campus, in your classroom, in your home, and within residence halls. Distressed students may initially seek assistance from faculty, staff members, their parents, and other students. In addition to the support we can provide to each other, there are also professional support services available to students through the Dean of Students and University Counseling Center. Both staffs are available to consult with you about getting help or providing a friend with the help that he or she may need. For more additional information, please visit the UND Cares Program Webpage.

How to Recognize When a Student is in Distress

The term “distressed” can mean any of the following:

  • Student has significant changes in eating, sleeping, grooming, spending, or other daily activities.
  • Student has cut off or minimized contact with family or friends.
  • Student has significant changes in performance or involvement in academics, sports, extracurricular, or social activities.
  • Student describes problems (missing class, not remembering, destructive behavior) that result from experiences with drinking or drugs.
  • Student is acting withdrawn, volatile, tearful, etc.
  • Student is acting out of character or different than usual.
  • Student is talking explicitly about hopelessness or suicide.
  • Student has difficulty concentrating or difficulty carrying on a normal conversation.
  • Student has excessive dependence on others for company or support.
  • Student reports feeling out of control of one’s emotions, thoughts, or behaviors.

Land Acknowledgement Statement

Today, the University of North Dakota rests on the ancestral lands of the Pembina and Red Lake Bands of Ojibwe and the Dakota Oyate - presently existing as composite parts of the Red Lake, Turtle Mountain, White Earth Bands, and the Dakota Tribes of Minnesota and North Dakota. We acknowledge the people who resided here for generations and recognize that the spirit of the Ojibwe and Oyate people permeate this land. As a university community, we will continue to build upon our relations with the First Nations of the State of North Dakota - the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Nation, Spirit Lake Nation, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.

Additional Resources

It is my goal to foster an environment of mutual respect in which everyone feels comfortable voicing their opinions, sharing their stories, and learning about potentially heavy or personally relevant material. If, at any point, you feel like the information covered in this class elicits thoughts, feelings, or concerns that you would like to discuss further, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, or the UND Counseling Center (701-777-2127).

Further, if you experience extenuating circumstances, sexual violence, identity-based harm, or any other personal crisis during the semester, don’t hesitate to reach out to me so we can provide academic assistance and help you in this course, and put you in contact with the appropriate resources and services (if needed).