Margaret King-Sears article (2009) on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) definitely opened me up to a different side of UDL. I too was one of those educators who figured that UDL dealt strictly with technology. I never thought about how important it is for people with disabilities. I found all of the seven guiding principles identified in this article for universal design (UD) applicable to me and important for me to consider when preparing lessons or activities for my students. To repeat them, they were: equitable use, flexibility in use, simple and intuitive use, perceptible information, tolerance for error, low physical effort, and size and space for approach and use. As noted in the article, UD is hugely important in the design of a building that is accessible and useful to all. I think it’s important that as educators, we are constantly thinking about the individual needs of our students and then trying to accommodate for those needs when possible. This isn’t always easy and to be honest, at times not possible, due to the many constraints we face in our personal lives as well as the limitations in our schools. As an online teacher, I think that we need to always keep the analogy of a well designed building in our minds if we want to successfully engage our students and help them be successful.
In Dave L. Edyburn article (2010), I was intrigued and surprised to learn that not much scientific research has been done in UDL. As teachers, I think I we are doing our own research in to what works everytime we prepare a lesson or design an activity. We then use what worked and discard what didn’t in our future lesson plans. As more research is done in this area (in my teaching observations and in the scientific community), my hope is that I will become more adept at creating well designed lessons and activities for my students that keep UDL principles at the forefront.
My ideal blended teaching situation would have a well stocked classroom where I have an up to date laptop connected to a Smartboard. I would also like a laptop cart in my room always ready to be used when needed. I would also like my students to always have access to a computer and internet at home. Sears (2009) mentioned when talking about UDL when talking about equitable use and flexibility in use. I think that access to a computer and internet for all students, all the time, is one of the most factors moving forward. I applaud schools and school districts that make 1 to 1 an important element in their technology plans.
As a distance teacher, I would like me and my students to have access to software and learning management systems that took UDL into consideration when in development. I think this would make my work in creating lessons and online courses much more productive and ultimately, useful to all.