UDL or Universal Design for Learning is an educational methodology that considers the diversity of its students.
This model should allow the design of learning programs that are motivating and integrating, as well as offering different channels of assimilation, access and expression of knowledge.
The integration of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) in education has opened up endless new possibilities for the creation and delivery of curricular content.
In this article, we will talk about what UDL is in education, but also about the principles on which it is based and which respond to the latest advances in neuroscience.
What is Universal Design for Learning?
Universal Design for Learning, or UDL, is a global instructional model for educational transformation that aims to identify barriers to learning and promote inclusive programs that take advantage of technological tools.
The instructional proposals related to this model must be developed in a way that recognizes the diversity of the students and provides flexible and accessible curricular approaches for all of them.
In Universal Design for Learning, ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) are highly relevant due to their versatility, accessibility, adaptability and ability to promote an active role of students in their own learning.
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Types of UDL-related neural networks
In developing its strategies and educational content, the UDL model also takes into account the latest advances in neuroscience, which identify 3 types of neural networks associated with the learning process.
They are linked to the “why” of learning, which the learner must understand in order to value it and take an active role.
In this aspect, it is essential to arouse the learner’s motivation.
This can be achieved through challenges, tasks, and various activities that help develop self-motivation and recognition of effort.
They are related to the “what” of learning, where the student must identify the information in order to integrate it.
Here, the goal is to present the same content in different ways so that all students can assimilate and consolidate the concepts learned under the same conditions.
They focus on the “how” of learning, where the planning of tasks is crucial for their realization.
In other words, it is necessary to integrate different ways of expressing knowledge, based on the theory of multiple intelligences, so that all students can achieve the proposed goals.
Universal Design for Learning principles
The UDL is formulated on the basis of 3 principles, which correspond to the 3 neural networks described a few lines ago, made up of different guidelines that facilitate the planning, analysis and monitoring of teaching.
Diversifying forms of involvement
Involvement refers to the necessary motivation and commitment for the learning process to be successful.
The student must understand the reason and the importance for the practice, as well as being able to take a leadership role and be involved in his or her own learning.
Provide multiple channels of information and content presentation
In Universal Design for Learning, it is essential to provide multiple ways of presenting content to accommodate diversity in the classroom. It is important to recognize that each learner perceives and integrates information differently.
In this sense, this point refers to the identification networks discussed earlier, which deal with the “what“.
Provide multiple supports for action and expression
Each learner has specific skills that allow them to unfold their potential in expressing and manifesting their knowledge.
This principle corresponds to the strategic neural network, which deals with the “how” and focuses on multiplying the means of participation in practices.
UDL resources and technics
The UDL responds to the transformation of education, which is enacted by number 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 4), towards quality learning that promotes inclusive education and ensures access to equal opportunities for all students.
Following the organization of the content that we have used throughout this article, in the following points we will show you some resources that you can introduce in your classes based on the 3 principles that we have just presented.
Motivating the learner
Disruptive education advocates personalizing the educational process by focusing on students’ own interests and using innovative tools to capture their attention and interest.
One of the methods you can use is learning by doing, where the student learns in a practical way and enjoys a motivating autonomy.
Discovery learning is another dynamic that relies on active learning and allows knowledge to be consolidated in a more natural way, while also encouraging collaboration in the classroom.
Media diversification and access to content
E-learning plataforms are great allies for providing your students with virtual environments that improve the perception and assimilation of information in digitalised societies.
Thanks to these programs, you will be able to monitor your students’ progress more efficiently, and make objective and fairer assessments.
Stimulation of expression and participation
One way to encourage student expression and participation in the classroom that is perfectly suited to e-learning is through gamification.
In a playful context, participation becomes more natural, even for learners with expressive problems.
Again, new technologies such as LMS (learning management systems) allow you to provide your students with different channels of intervention.
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