Welcome to the "Universal Design for Learning" excerpt of the National Educational Technology Panel Report.
The excerpt uses pages 14 through 18 of the report to demonstrate some UDL features. To see descriptions of the UDL features and how they support learning, click on "Show UDL Information. Click on each for feature descriptions. Our excerpt demonstrates only a few examples of UDL learning supports. For more information about UDL and the UDL Guidelines, go to The National Center on UDL.
For more information about Universal Design for Learning watch this short video.
Digital Materials: In print materials, the display of information is fixed, permanent, one size fits all. In properly prepared digital materials, the display of the same information is malleable and can easily be changed or transformed into a different display, thus providing great opportunities to customize it. (Guideline 1)
How People Need to Learn
Advances in the learning sciences, including cognitive science, neuroscience, education, and social sciences, give us greater understanding of three connected types of human learning–factual knowledge, procedural knowledge, and motivational engagement. Neuroscience tells us that these three different types of learning are supported by three different brain systems. (See sidebar on the neuroscience of learning.) Social sciences reveal that human expertise integrates all three types of learning. Technology has increased our ability to both study and enhance all three types of learning.(National Research Council, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2009; National Science Foundation, 2008b).
Check Your Understanding
Here is a question to check your understanding of what you have read. If you need a hint click on the image of the coach. Click the "check" button to check your answer.
The anterior (frontal) regions of the brain are most prominently associated with which aspect of learning?
Coaches or Agents: To effectively help students learn, good teachers vary the challenge to meet the learner exactly where he or she is in developing skills. UDL practice recommends that educators vary the levels of challenge and support. By embedding prompts, hints and models in digital agents of coaches, students are provided with just the right amount of challenge that changes as they develop their skills. (guideline 6.2)
Check Your Understanding: Effective teaching or learning almost always requires timely feedback or “knowledge of results.” Consequently, UDL practice recommends embedding multiple opportunities to “try out” new knowledge and skills in ways that will provide immediate feedback. (guideline 9.3) As one example, a simple multiple choice comprehension check is inserted here.
Students are surrounded with information in a variety of forms, and specific features of information design affect how and whether students build usable knowledge from the information they encounter. For example, computers can replicate and integrate a wide variety of media for learning and education: text, video/film, animations, graphics, photos, diagrams, simulations, and more. As a result, technology can be designed to provide much richer learning experiences without sacrificing what traditional learning media offer. Technology can:
- Represent information through a much richer mix of
media types: This allows the integration of media and
representations to illustrate, explain, or explore complex
ideas and phenomena, such as interactive visualizations of
data in earth and environmental sciences, chemistry, or
astronomy. Technology can help learners
explore phenomena at extreme spatial or temporal scales
through simulation and modeling tools. This opens up
many domains and ways of learning that were formerly
impossible or impractical.
For an example of free interactive tools and simulation environments that enable and encourage exploration and discovery through observation, conjecture, and modeling activities, visit Shodor MASTER Tools.
Learn More: Effective teachers vary the levels of challenge and support meeting the student exactly where he or she is in the process of developing skills (guideline 8.2). This helps to engage and motivate students. UDL practice suggests that educators not only provide options to activate background knowledge, enhance relevant and vary the levels of challenge for students to extend their knowledge of the content. The Learn More boxes are examples of ways to do all of this.
- Facilitate knowledge connections through interactive tools:These include interactive concept maps, data displays, and timelines that provide visual connections between existing knowledge and new ideas.