Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
Universal Design originated in architecturally designed buildings and products with its main feature being to allow persons with unique needs to independently and immediately use them ‘as is” (King-Sears, 2009, p.199). It has seven guiding principles that some educators have used for direction in creating Universal Design for Learning to meet the needs of a diverse population. Dave Edyburn regards this comparison as flawed, as a distraction (Edyburn, 2010, p.36) and points out that the built environment is static whereas the learner is a complex fluid creature.
Edyburn has ten propositions for new directions in UDL. I especially like the last one that states that UDL is much more complex than we originally thought. He affirms that it is technologically driven and supported and that it is fundamentally about valuing diversity and its core function is about design.
I have created several lessons for use in an online context and I feel that what I have done would not be recognized as UDL. It has been my practice in the classroom to try to pitch my learning activities to the ‘middle’ and to have auxiliary materials on hand for the students at either end of the academic spectrum. When I designed my digital lessons, I did not consider the three brain networks of recognition (the “what”), Strategic (the “how”) and affective (the “why”). Because I am teaching apprentices, my focus is more on the knowledge and skills. I expect that the enthusiasm is already there as they care about their chosen field of practice. What I would like to add to the work that I have already done is the immediate feedback part. As students attempt a stair calculation, I would like to insert prompts and signals that will correct them if they take a wrong turn. I would like to add ‘bells & whistles’ when they get it right and also give them opportunity to delve deeper into other solutions that are acceptable according to the Building Code. I can see a hand-in-hand collaboration with a technical ‘guru’. Fortunately for us at the college, we have such people.
Edyburn, D. (2010). Would You Recognize Universal Design for Learning if You Saw it? Ten Propositions for New Directions for the Second Decade of UDL. Learning Disability Quarterly, 33(1), 33-41. Accessed on May 24, 2014 at http://ezproxy.tru.ca/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ909894&site=ehost-live.
King-Sears, M. (2009). Universal Design for Learning: Technology and Pedagogy. Learning Disability Quarterly, 32(4), 199-201. Accessed on May 24, 2014 at http://ezproxy.tru.ca/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ867620&site=ehost-live.