- At March's UDL-IRN Summit, Virginia Commonwealth University Assistant Professor of Counseling and Special Education Serra De Arment detailed how using universal design for learning (UDL) methods can help to add some pizazz to blended and online lessons, wrote District Administration reports.
- One approach is to open discussion boards around lessons while also allowing students to choose how they want to engage, from recording audio or video comments to writing their thoughts out in text.
- To show what they’ve learned, students can also be invited to express themselves through blogs, infographics and ePortfolios as a final project, selecting a method that dovetails with their needs but is also exciting to them as well.
When adopting UDL, it’s also crucial that administrators and curriculum designers are fully assessing all student needs and abilities across all areas of curriculum so every area of education is addressed. Doing so can lift the entire learning experience for every student in the process, so all have the opportunity to hit the same high standards.
In terms of educational technology, this is not always the case. For example, digital tools don’t always mesh well with the broad spectrum of needs and abilities students may have, including vision and hearing impairments.
How can districts, schools and administrators make sure a curriculum is being fully accessed so every child, in every part of their education, gets what they need? The Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) developed a new set of working UDL Guidelines as of 2018 that can be followed — and downloaded — to help educators check that the curriculum they’ve developed or adopted is both “accessible and challenging for all,” as CAST wrote in its Frequently Asked Questions section.
“UDL aims to change the design of the environment rather than to change the learner,” wrote CAST. “When environments are intentionally designed to reduce barriers, all learners can engage in rigorous, meaningful learning.”
Ultimately, schools want to be thoughtful and mindful that the tools brought into classrooms can serve the educational needs of all students, no matter their abilities. They can also implement a plan to adapt lessons so all students are involved, excited and motivated to pursue learning throughout their entire educational career.