8th June 2021

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Universal Design for Learning

The UDL guidelines aim to define an idea of the Expert Learner. This expert has characteristics that belong to three categories. However, in each category the basic principle is variety - that is to say, that the educator should include various pathways, approaches and formats in order to achieve (as far as possible) a universal experience where particular styles or groups are not disadvantaged...

  1. engagement - the why of learning, which relates to questions of affect, in other words, emotions that either help or hinder a student's wish to follow a course. I like the way this document chooses the contrasting desires to seek novelty or routine: Some learners are highly engaged by spontaneity and novelty while others are disengaged, even frightened, by those aspects, preferring strict routine.
  2. representation - the what of learning this relates to issues which might be thought of as "digital accessibility", but more widely catering to cognitive, linguistic and cultural variability in all learners. It helps to provide different ways of presenting content - visually, in audio formats, etc. and also different ways of manipulating and applying it... with alternatives for helping memory, critical thinking etc.
  3. action and expression the how of learning ... I think this is a similar consideration to the previous point about representation but referring to the students' output and interaction with the materials. It also includes scaffolding for the learning process. It's interesting that it talks about "fluencies" rather than "literacies"...eg. when it says Learners must develop a variety of fluencies (e.g., visual, audio, mathematical, reading, etc.).

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