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Universal design for learning in the classroom

This was originally posted by Simon Evans 15 Oct 2012. This is cross-posted as part of the transition of Software for Learning to Enabling e-Learning.

What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?  

As Lynne Silcock points out in the video, not only are there 5% of students with recognisable special needs but a further 5% with moderate learning needs who would benefit from a more differentiated approach to the delivery of their curriculum.

Universal Design for Learning - sees education less of a fixed menu for a large group and more of a smorgasbord where students can select from a variety of materials and methods. Allowing students this flexibility offers greater access for all.

With the ‘Success for All’ initiative the Government has set a target of 100% of schools demonstrating inclusive practices by 2014 and has a programme of activities to achieve this. These activities look at improving inclusive practices and improving special education systems and support. Adopting the principles of Universal Design for Learning offers teachers a framework as they set out to offer students greater access to the information they need, to allow them to express themselves in a variety of ways and to open options for students to engage more readily with the learning process.

How is information presented to students?

Lynne talks about how we can help students be more receptive to information. This may mean designing a more diverse approach to content delivery; for example, not relying merely on the written word but using multimedia. employing visual and auditory support, and ensuring that new ideas build on prior knowledge, culture and experiences.

How do students respond to that information?

Lynne notes that it is essential that students are able to express themselves, and this does not always mean in the written word. Many students can discuss and share ideas more easily orally than in the written form. With so much quality software, much of it available for free, there is little reason why that student cannot share through video, audio, images or concept mapping.

How fully are the students engaged in the learning process?

There is a clear need to raise the engagement of students in their own education, and it is easier than ever before to harness technology so that we can offer multiple pathways towards learning objectives. For example, YouTube  or Google docs or PhotoPeach. There are a large number of examples in Enabling e-Learning's Technologies: Software for Learning focussing on video, mind-mapping, mobile learning or multimedia: audio/sound.

How software can be used to personalise the curriculum?

  • This Enabling e-Learning story looks at how technology can help a teacher design a differentiated approach, especially now they have access to broadband and personalised technologies.