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Universal Design for Learning, 'Action and Expression', and the affordances of digital technology

Universal Design for Learning, ‘Action and Expression’

One of a series of guides on hybrid learning

Universal Design for Learning: 3 Principles

From left to right. 1) Offer options and supports to stimulate motivation and sustained enthusiasm for learning. 2) Present information in different ways to support access and understanding. 3)Offer options and supports to all so everyone can create, learn, and share
Source: Adapted from CAST UDL

The selection and use of digital tools needs to be clearly linked to specific learning outcomes (LOs):

  • What do teachers want learners to know, understand, and be able to do?
  • Consider LOs carefully, ensure that you have not combined multiple LOs in such a way that you lose visibility and clarity.

The integral part that digital technology plays in the hybrid learning environment offers opportunity to deepen learning and engagement, with the possibility of doing things that learners could not otherwise do. To replicate what learners already do merely makes their device a $1000 pencil. Digital tools offer opportunities to create, learn, and share, that don’t exist in an analogue environment.

Digital tools allow learners to explore and to show their learning with sight, sound, and motion. This appeal to multiple senses supports deeper learning, greater fun, and more engagement for our learners, especially when they are given the choice of the media and approaches they may take.

The technology offers tools that extend creative scope for learning far beyond what is possible in the traditional ‘analogue’ environment. They also offer opportunities for degrees of connectivity, and access to human expertise, that would otherwise not be available. Students become ‘creators’ rather than passive ‘consumers’.

These advantages similarly apply to teacher practice, offering increased teacher efficacy, and improvements in the visibility of learning, and the connectivity with learners and whānau.

Students need to be equipped to create digital learning objects that allow them to explore, share, and show their learning.

Requisite teacher skills need to be developed and supported to enable these affordances of digital technology. YouTube provides many video clips to support teachers to develop their capabilities to use a wide variety of tools and they’re free development for teachers.

Where might you start? 

Consider which digital tools will best suit your learners’ needs. These suggestions come from a group of experienced 

  • Screencastify to support sight, sound, and motion
  • Blogger or a more suitably age protected/appropriate tool such as Edublogger for younger students, used as a writing tool that enables seamless connection with the world. 
  • GoogleDocs, or OneNote or equivalent, as collaborative writing tools
  • Padlet
  • Google Apps for Education (Docs, Sites, Slides, Forms, Sheets, Drawing)
  • Canva for Education
  • RenderForest
  • iMovie
  • Stopmotion Studio
  • Explain Everything 

Invest in staff capabilities using a range of digital tools.

Be deliberate, and explicit, in connecting your tools with learning outcomes. UDL talks about ‘Create, Share, Learn’. Try to make this explicit in all that you do.

Further Information

An outline of the SAMR model of technology adoption 

Universal Design for Learning introduction on YouTube (video duration 18 minutes)