UDL Studio and Assistive Technology

Ok. We are converts to the UDL Studio.  But some of us have students who on their IEP state the two letter phenom:  AT.  Can this be considered assistive technology?  Absolutely.  In this case, if a student has a hearing impairment you have the option for closed captions or visual media that helps with reading.  



UDL Studio and UDL Guidelines

One of the great new online tools for educators has recently been released for public use.  An online program that implements all of the UDL principles and facilitates better learning experiences for all students, this website is a forum that should not be ignored by educators determined to reach all of their students.


When at first glance this seems to be another run of the mill lesson plan website.  However, your first assumptions could not be further from the truth.  Here so many elements of this program allow for customization of information and multiple means of engagement that to assume this to be just another lesson is to greatly ignore its importance.

When looking at one of the lessons (“Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allen Poe) you can immediately see its difference from other lessons.  Links to short videos building background knowledge of the story, opportunities to immediately retrieve a definition from an unknown word (or the ability to add one if you like), audio recording of the story in front of you, all highlight certain guidelines in UDL.

With videos and audio recordings you are playing upon activating or supplying background knowledge for the students, as well as using multiple media for communication.  With checks for understanding at the bottom of each page you are heightening salience of goals and objectives as well as increasing mastery-oriented feedback.  Quite honestly, with your ability to edit this same lesson you can possibly touch upon each UDL guideline available.

Google and UDL?

By implementing digital tools such as Google Docs, Forms, Presentations and so on, educators are able to access the multiple intelligences of their students more simply, efficiently, and effectively than ever before.  Take for instance Google Documents.  Here students from different areas and computers are able to collaborate in real time towards a common task (i.e. creating a paper, class notes, presentation speeches, etc.).  This quite simply is astonishing.

The one I am hoping to demonstrate is Google Forms.  Online polling of students anonymously, testing of students with immediate feedback, all of this is possible with this App.  Below is a link to a demo that I have created for those to see the effects this App may have in your classroom.



Assistive Tech and UDL

In class on 4/5/2012 we looked at the Kurzweil 3000 educational system.  Three things that this system does that implements the principles of UDL are:  text to speech writing, enlarged text options, as well as colored highlighters.  These highlighters also are able to separate and categorize the information being highlighted so that the instructor is able to check for understanding as well as the student.

In using enlarging texts, speech to text as well as highlighting options, this follows the guideline principle of providing multiple means of representation.  When giving the children information in this format and allowing them more of an opportunity to gauge their own progress through digital means, this also allows for multiple means of engagement.  This is also due to the rise in interest they may have in seeing their own data driven progress.

The Difference Between UDL and DI

Both approaches towards instruction are quite compatible; however, these elements also have some defined differences.  Both Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Differentiated Instruction (DI) aim towards the same essential goal of assisting all students, with or without disabilities, learn to higher standards.  Both contribute to meeting individual needs rather than force students to be malleable to an inflexible curriculum.  Both give access to the same heightened quality of content and instruction as well as emphasizing critical thinking skills and strategic learning.

The significant differences between UDL and DI tend to dwell within the world of the how and when in addressing the diversity of the student and classroom.  DI is the modification of the curriculum in order to properly educate the student with his/her specific learning needs or preferences.  UDL contrasts this because it addresses the diversity of the student at the construction of the curriculum.  UDL also integrates the methods for DI within the lesson or curriculum allowing the student the ability to become more educationally aware so that they are in command of their own education rather than having to rely on the possible crutch of the modifications made by the educator.

Cognitive Rescaling

Cognitive rescaling is an alternate text that accesses the varying readability of one’s students.  Cognitive Rescaling represents the presentation portion of UDL  A tool that would be helpful to all students would be a text summary program.  In this students are able to take long written works and have a brief summary to begin their inquiries.