Universal Design for Learning
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an educational framework based on research in the learning sciences, including cognitive neuroscience, that guides the development of flexible learning environments that can accommodate individual learning differences.
Recognizing that the way individuals learn can be unique, the UDL framework, first defined by the Center for Applied Special Technology(CAST) in the 1990s, calls for creating curriculum from the outset that provides: * Multiple means of representation to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge, * Multiple means of expression to provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know, and * Multiple means of engagement to tap into learners’ interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn.
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Curriculum, as defined in the UDL literature, has four parts: instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments. UDL is intended to increase access to learning by reducing physical, cognitive, intellectual, and organizational barriers to learning, as well as other obstacles. UDL principles also lend themselves to implementing inclusionary practices in the classroom. Universal Design for Learning is referred to by name in the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 (Public Law 110-315). 6] It is also mentioned in the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), which in turn refers to a legal definition of the term in the Assistive Technology Act of 1998.
The emphasis being placed on equal access to curriculum by all students and the accountability required by IDEA 2004 and No Child Left Behind legislation has presented a need for a practice that will accommodate all learners. Origins of UDL The concept and language of Universal Design for Learning was inspired by the universal design movement in architecture and product development, originally formulated by Ronald L. Mace at North Carolina State University. Universal design calls for designing and constructing buildings, homes, products, and so forth that, from the outset, accommodate the widest spectrum of users. UDL applies this general idea to learning: that curriculum should from the outset be designed to accommodate all kinds of learners. Educators have to be deliberate in the teaching and learning process in the classroom e. g Preparing class learning profiles for each student.
This will enable grouping by interest. Those students that have challenges will be given special assistance. This will enable specific multimedia to meet the needs of all students. However, recognizing that the UD principles created to guide the design of things (e. g. , buildings, products) are not adequate for the design of social interactions (e. g. , human learning environments), researchers at CAST looked to the neurosciences and theories of progressive education in developing the UDL principles.
In particular, the work of Lev Vygotsky and, less directly, Benjamin Bloom informed the three-part UDL framework. Some educational initiatives, such as Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) and Universal Instructional Design (UID), adapt the Mace principles for products and environments to learning environments, primarily at the postsecondary level. While these initiatives are similar to UDL and have, in some cases, compatible goals, they are not equivalent to UDL and the terms are not interchangeable; they refer to distinct frameworks.
On the other hand, UDI practices promoted by the Center for Universal Design in Education operationalize both UD and UDL principles to help educators maximize the learning of all students. Implementation initiatives in the USA In 2006, representatives from more than two dozen educational and disability organizations in the USA formed the National Universal Design for Learning Taskforce. The goal was to raise awareness of UDL among national, state, and local policymakers.
The organizations represented in the National Task Force on UDL include the National School Boards Association, the National Education Association (NEA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), Easter Seals, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), Association on Higher Education and Disability, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education (HECSE), American Occupational Therapy Association, National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC), Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA), TASH, the Arc of the United States, the Vocational Evaluation and Career Assessment Professionals Association (VECAP), the National Cerebral Palsy Association, and the Advocacy Institute.
Activities have included sponsoring a Congressional staff briefing on UDL in February 2007 and supporting efforts to include UDL in major education legislation for both K-12 and postsecondary. Research Despite the popularity of UDL among educators and disability support professionals, little research has been conducted to evaluate its effectiveness as a model of good pedagogy. However, a number of studies have appeared in recent years, providing preliminary data in support of this instructional model. 16] For example, a recent study at Colorado State University found “recognizable changes in instructor behavior” from only a few hours of training in UDL principles and teaching practices.  The same study described the creation of a research questionnaire for students and instructors, based on UDL’s three principles. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Universal_Design_for_Learning June 15, 2012