Aug 17, 2020 2020-08-17
Some educators who want to make online learning more engaging and accessible are exploring the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework. UDL—originally developed by researchers at the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) in collaboration with Harvard University—supports special education students, but its flexibility, technology guidelines, and aim to individualize learning are best practices that can serve every student.
The UDL guidelines organize supports according to three umbrella categories: representation, which assists learners by presenting information in diverse multisensory formats; action and expression, which lets students interact and respond to what they’ve learned in a variety of ways; and engagement, which is achieved by providing students with options and approaches that are relevant to their interests. Multimodality is the lynchpin of the UDL approach. Written instructions might also be delivered as video, audio, or a series of images. Similarly, the framework encourages offering a variety of options by which students can respond to what they learn, whether they create comics, podcasts, short videos, infographics, or voice-to-text dictations. Finally, the framework supports executive function by delivering information in manageable “chunks,” using visual checklists and auditory prompts, and providing regular feedback. To support the integration of UDL in online learning, School Virtually, an open website, provides information for educators and parents as schools make a quick switch to remote and online learning. Going beyond lists of resources, School Virtually provides tips on designing online instruction, using technology tools, and supporting students with disabilities and language learners.