We need UDL for the same reasons we need UD anywhere else: learners bring “a huge variety of skills, needs and interests” to the learning environment. UDL ensures that learners can access, understand and act on the information provided. UD in other settings (housing or government, for example) ensures that citizens can access the resources provided, not only so they can benefit from them but also so they can contribute to their community. Thus, it seems to me that UDL is an aspect that serves to develop the sense of community and presence we’ve been talking about all summer.
In the classroom I can improve accessibility by designing assignments and assessments to have engaging features and flexible, creative, student-driven deliverables – also things we’ve been talking about all summer. Some things we maybe haven’t talked about are ensuring that we choose texts and course materials wisely and cost-effectively, and use the resources we insist our students pay for. Another is ensuring that the online features and platforms we choose to include are accessible to the students given the hardware / software they are likely to have.
Thinking about where I’ve been and where I’m going – well, I hope I’m going to a better place (with apologies to my friends at Candler 🙂 Not just slicker and better-looking, but really more effective in a way that can be measured. There are still a lot of old-school things I like to do in my classes precisely because I think they work well, and I hope I can keep the best or at least reproduce them in some way in the online environment .
Ann, Thanks for highlighting the cost-effective texts and course materials. There are lots of things we can choose from. We can pile on the required texts for students. It can be quite costly. With the economy being the way it is, even though lots of our students come from high socio-economic status, some do not and we need to be sensitive to that fact.
I, too, am appreciative of the strategies we have discussed and read about to improve learner engagement. If the learner is not successful or not engaged, I’m thinking that I – the instructor – is responsible to a certain extent.
Regarding ‘old school things’ that work — I bet you can now identify WHY they work!
Same with ‘slicker’ and ‘better looking’! We now know why images are important, based on UDL multiple means of engagement, and white space, and clear, large, well-contrasted text, etc. There is a method to our madness!