Technology and Universal Design for Learning

 Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for helping teachers design lessons that meet the diverse needs of all students.  It is divided into three categories: Engagement (why to learn), Representation (what to learn), and Action/Expression (how to learn) (1).  Often, UDL is depicted in the following chart:

(2)

This chart shows different ways that teachers can plan instruction to accommodate the needs of their students.

Technology can be an excellent way to meet any of the UDL standards.  By planning incorporation of technology in purposeful ways to support content and pedagogy, as per TPACK, teachers can easily support all of their students.

 

Here are some examples of ways in which technology can support UDL:

  • Teachers can use short videos, screen casts, interactive PowerPoints such as Nearpod, and audiobooks as alternate ways of presenting information (1.2, 1.3).
  • Technology can provide multiple tools for construction and composition (5.2).  For example, in presenting historical research, students could be given the options of writing a traditional research paper, creating a blog, or filming a screencast.  All three of these means of expression meet the same objective of having students present the findings of their research, but students are able to choose whichever method of communication best displays their strengths.
  • Students can be taught self-assessment and reflection through technology (9.3).  Google Forms and Go Formative are just two tools that teachers can use for prompting students to briefly reflect on their learning at the end of a class.  Another way to promote student metacognition and reflection is to have students publish blogs to reflect on subject matter and their own learning–as I am doing at this very moment.

Technology need not be seen as an additional burden for teachers to shoulder, adding to everything else that we must teach our students.  Instead, technology can be seen as a valuable resource to help us serve our students and meet their needs, whatever those needs may be.

 


  1. CAST, “About Universal Design for Learning,” http://www.cast.org/our-work/about-udl.html#.VyGjLDArLIU.
  2. National Center for Universal Design for Learning, http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlguidelines/udlguidelines_graphicorganize
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