Universal Design for Learning (UDL)The last few weeks in my Master's classes at UNI, we have been exploring and discussing Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL provides a framework that allows all students access to the curriculum. A flexible approach in design, instruction, and performance in UDL facilitates differentiation for the individual needs of students. CAST describes UDL as "a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn."
According to CAST and the National Center on Universal Design for Learning, there are three primary principles that guide UDL.
- Multiple Means of Representation
- Language, expressions and symbols
- Physical Action
- Expression and Communication
- Executive Function
- Recruiting Interest
- Sustaining Effort and Persistence
The first principle, multiple means of representation, focuses on providing content and information in a variety of formats to meet the varying needs of students. The second principle, multiple means of expression, focuses on providing a variety of avenues for students to express their learning. The third principle, multiple means of engagement, focuses on engaging students by providing choice and relevance along with collaboration and self-assessment. Rather than accommodating the curriculum for a few students' needs, the UDL principles work together to make the curriculum accessible for all students. One way to make curriculum more accessible for all students is through the use of technology.
It's Not About the Apps...
It's About the Access They ProvideAfter some exploration and talking with teachers in our school, here are 11 apps that support UDL in the classroom. While these apps can be fun to use, the focus isn't on using technology in the classroom. The goal is using technology to make learning more accessible for all students. Each app includes a description, how it supports the principles of UDL, and how it makes curriculum accessible for students. Along with a description of each app, an explanation of how the can be used in the classroom to make curriculum more accessible for students.
Evernote is a free app for note taking, that also has a premium version. This app supports different means of expression and engagement for students. Evernote allows students to type their notes, record audio notes, save images, organize their notes, and share notes with others. Evernote also has the capability of syncing notes across devices.
Educreations supports the UDL principle of multiple forms of representation. This app allows teachers to create and share video lessons with their iPad acting as a recordable interactive whiteboard. The app captures images, sounds, and annotations, with the ability to share and embed the videos. This app supports leaners that need the audio and visual representation.
Subtext supports all three of the UDL principles. This free app is for the iPad and allows teacher to embed content, such as extension materials like documents, articles, web links, blogs, or assignments, within a digital text, which provides the content in multiple ways. It also allows teachers to create classes where students can read and collaborate through highlighting, commenting, tagging, and discussions allowing students to show what they know in a variety of ways. Subtext engages students through the use of an interactive format with a variety of mediums.
SpeakIt! is a paid app that supports multiple forms of representation. This is a text to speech app that will read documents, emails, and articles, even after exiting the app and using other apps on your device. Students can copy and paste files into Speak it! to have them read. The words are highlighted as they are being read. The voice, text size, volume, and rate of reading can all be changed to differentiate for students. Creating and sharing of audio files is also supported in this app.
ScootPad is a free product that supports all three principles of UDL, multiple means of representation, multiple means of expression, and multiple means of engagement. Scoot Pad is a web-based product that also supports apps across a variety of devices. This product provides interactive learning and practice that supports personalized and self-paced learning for students in math, reading, writing content areas. Scoot Pad allows the teacher to post messages on the class wall, monitor the progress of each student, and make adjustments to differentiate for each student. When students work in Scoot Pad, they receive immediate feedback, earn rewards, access their progress, have the ability to connect with friends, send shout outs to other students, and view leaderboards. This app provides multiple ways for students to access and interact with their learning and demonstrate what they know in a social game like environment.
Socrative is a free app that has an app for teachers and students. This app supports the UDL principles of multiple means of representation and multiple means of engagement. The student app allows students to join the classroom without creating an account and interact with other students and the teacher through quizzes, polls, and a space race game that are created by the teacher. After creating a free account, the teacher app allows teachers to create exit slips, polls, multiple choice, true/false, and short answer quizzes used to gather information and feedback from students. The data is collected in a spreadsheet for the teacher to access. The content created can also be shared with other teachers.
AudioBoo is a free app that supports all three principles of UDL. After creating a free account this app allows you to record up to three minutes of audio and posts it to your account which can then be shared or embedded within other media. The app also allows you to upload images, add titles, tags, and geolocation information. This app provides a way to support audio and visual learners, as well as provides them with a variety of ways to show their learning, and interact with content.
Popplet is a webbing and organization tool that has a lite and paid app. The lite app allows the creation of one popplet, where the paid version allows for an unlimited number of popplets. Popplet is a way to represent and organize ideas for brainstorming, diagrams, notes, planning, and is compatible with image files. The paid version allows sharing and collaborating with other popplet users. This app allows teachers and students a variety of ways to present information and interact with information.
StoryBuilder is a paid app that supports multiple forms of representation for students. Students interact with images, audio clips, and prompts, to create their own story by recording their voices. There are fifty different story lines, five hundred different prompts to guide the story, and three different levels that allow for student differentiation. Once completed stories can easily be shared through email.