Universal Design for Learning – and beyond!
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Universal Design for Learning – and beyond!

Hi. How are you? Hi. I am fine. Wow, you seem very animated
today. What has gotten into you? I just started learning about Universal Design
for Learning or U.D.L. I find it quite fascinating. Have you heard about it? Yes. U.D.L. is a valuable and essential skill
for every teacher. What do you know about U.D.L.? U.D.L. is a set of principles that educators
can use to develop more engaging and accessible course outlines, lesson plans, assignments
and learning activities. It helps educators address the diverse learning needs of our
students. Yes, I used to think U.D.L. was complicated
but it is really based on three simple principles. Yes. Let’s see if I remember correctly.
The first principle is Providing Multiple Means of Representation. Right, but do you remember what that means? I do. Providing multiple means of representation
is based on the idea that everyone sees, hears, and reads information differently. Our role
as educators is to present information and content in different ways. For example, I
might speak, draw, and demonstrate about a topic.>>Well, beam me up! That is right. Each of
the U.D.L. principles are about giving students a variety of ways to learn and express what
they know. Right. Another example is that I created an
audio recording explaining how to complete a major assignment. The students really liked
this. The students told me that they listened to this a couple of times while they were
working on their assignment and it really helped them stay focused. Right, giving students alternative ways to
understand, sort, see and hear about something are all ways of Providing Multiple Means of
Representation. Do you know what the second principle is? Yes, I do. The second principle of U.D.L.
is providing Multiple Means of Action and Expression. Right, this is about how to give students
more than one option to show what they know. Right, an example of this is to give students
more than one option in an assignment. By making the assignment flexible, I make the
most of individual learning needs. Yes, when I looked back at what I was doing
in the past, I realized that I was creating an unnecessary barrier by only allowing students
to demonstrate what they know in only one way. But what about the course learning outcomes?
You can not change the outcomes, how did you figure this out? At first I was stuck so I spoke to my team
and then I talked with the Curriculum Specialists at the CAFE. We found that it was actually
quite easy to come up with a few different ways to measure the course outcomes. Far out! So, do you remember what the third
principle is? Yes. The third principle is to Provide Multiple
Means of Engagement. There are many different factors that affect student engagement. Right! Just like many alien species, no one
student is alike. For example, some students might like to work alone, while others prefer
to work with their peers. That’s right, in reality, there is not a
one size fits all approach to engaging students. Do you have any more suggestions for me? Yes, there are lots of really creative ways
to do this! I use a lot of storytelling, role playing, and real life case studies to engage
students. That’s great. The more research I do, the
more I learn about innovative ways to use U.D.L. Just recently I created an on line
project calendar to help students plan a group project and a study guide with focus questions
for students. Wow, that is out of this world. You really
know your stuff! Sounds like you should be one of our universal ambassadors here on the
Durham College Starship. Thanks. Sounds like a great assignment. I
found that this really fit well with what I already knew about active learning, authentic
assessment, and student engagement. Excellent. What do you plan to do next? Well, I am going to keep learning about U.D.L.
I heard that the CAFE will soon have a website on U.D.L. with lots of great ideas and resources. Excellent. I will look for an announcement
about this. U.D.L. has many benefits to our students, programs, and starship. Providing
multiple means of representation, expression, and action and engagement help us to create
a more flexible and inclusive classroom!! Well, I guess we should transport out of here?
so we can keep spreading our message across the universe. Right. Before we leave we should check in
with the starship log. Starship, can you please repeat back starship entry 21025. Tell me
starship, what are the three principles of U.D.L.


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