During my Master’s program, I was introduced to an up-and-coming teaching approach called UDL (Universal Design for Learning). ThisÂ concept began in architecture, while designing infrastructure for people with disabilities. During this process, they discovered that those with disabilities were not the only people assisted by the designs. For example, when cut curbs were created, they were meant to aid people who are in wheelchairs cross the street. It was soon revealed that the smoother walkways also assisted those pushing strollers or delivery carts. So, while it helps support those with special needs, it was indeed universally successful. Fast forward to today- this same concept is being applied to education, with a technological twist. A Great Schools article by Nancy Firchow sumsÂ up the ideaÂ of UDL this way:
Â ”UDL uses computer technology to create an educational environment that allows all students, including those with learning disabilities, to succeed in general education classrooms with minimal use of assistive technology (AT).”
It is guided by three principles,
- Multiple methods of presentation
- Multiple options for participation
- Multiple means of expression
While this is an extensive, pedogogy reforming approach to education, it is also a fantastic way to support every student in your classroom. It appears especially applicable to the ever-daunting Research Paper. With the guidance in UDL, students of all skill levels, reading proficiencies, mental/physical disabilities, and cultural backgrounds could access and manipulate the information required to perform grade level tasks. The catch here: teachers need to modify end goals to allow for the three principles. While a written product is the desired end result, those with difficulty in writing would have a built in support system. I have only scratched the surface of UDL, so please feel free to explore the following websites for an abundance of additional information.