With this blog, I hope to introduce you to UDL and why it should be the framework in creating digital learning environments where all students can achieve. Mobile Apps will be instrumental in supporting all learners persoanlizing the learning environment like we have never seen before. But first, an introduction to UDL and why it will most likely create some buzz as we discover how we will innovate new learning environments for all students.
What is UDL - Universal Design for Learning?
After being introduced to UDL some 10 years ago, I am surprised how many educators have no idea what it is and why it may play some importance in education. Universal Design for Learning was developed by CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology) from years of brain research on how we learn.
From this research, three principles have been defined:
- Multiple means of representation, to give diverse learners options for acquiring information and knowledge,
- Multiple means of action and expression, to provide learners options for demonstrating what they know,
- Multiple means of engagement, to tap into learners' interests, offer appropriate [CAST], 2011a).
In the last few years UDL became defined in the Higher Ed Opportunity Act of 2008 and other federal legislation and policy.
From the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 ...The term UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING means a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that:
(A) provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and
(B) reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are limited English proficient.
Where else is UDL showing up in Federal legislative and policy documents?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004
IDEA is focused on improving outcomes for children and youth with disabilities. Some of the provisions included below within IDEA integrate the use of UDL as a means of supporting the core principles of IDEA:
- 34CFR Sec. 300.704(b)(4)(v)
- 34CFR Sec. 612(a)(16)(E)
- 34CFR Sec. 674(b)(2)(B)
U.S. Department of Education Technology Plan
In the announcement letter, Secretary Duncan said the following about the Plan (U.S. Department of Education, 2010):
It calls for using state-‐‑of-‐‑the art technology and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) concepts to enable, motivate and inspire all students to achieve, regardless of background, languages or disabilities.
Additional Inclusions of UDL Nationally
- The Common Core State Standards developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers
- The Race to the Top Assessment Programs Criteria
- LEARN Act (literacy) bills in House and Senate
- USDOE's Blueprint for Education Reform: The Reauthorization of the
Elementary and Secondary Education Act
Learn more about UDL at The UDL Center
Next post: Mobile Apps and The UDL Principles