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UDL in a Distance Learning Environment Webinar

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in a Distance Learning Environment Webinar Notes, April 24, 2020.

Facilitators: Dr. Stephanie Gregson and Shanine Coats
Partners: California UDL Coalition featuring

  • James McKenna, Los Angeles County Office of Education
  • Sung Park, Santa Clara County Office of Education
  • Kelly Wylie, Santa Clara County Office of Education

Key Takeaways: Overview of Universal Design for Learning

  1. What and Why
    • UDL definition: framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn
      • Not a “special ed” thing—it's an “everybody” thing
    • Three groups of neural networks that drive learning
      • Affective is the why—reason we learn
      • Recognition is the what—process and store the information
      • Strategic is the how—responsible for focusing attention, communicating and creating, and strategic thinking
    • Learner Variability—variability is predictable, what we can predict we can plan for
      • We learn best when a flexible learning environment is created and planned.
    • Curb-Cut Effect—universal support from architecture
      • Assists anyone who has trouble with sharp changes in elevation— don’t impede anyone
      • Closed caption is a similar universal support in education
  1. What UDL is and is not
    • Lens, not a checklist
      • It is a way of looking at our learning environments and laying out flexible paths to firm goals.
    • Marathon, not a sprint
      • Setting expectations and taking steps towards a slow and steady progress
    • Journey, not a destination
      • Keep making progress towards the vision using guidelines and rubrics to inform that vision
    • Standards-based, not standardized
      • Included in state frameworks
      • Not one-size-fits-all and not everybody do what they want
      • Firm goals, flexible means
  1. Myths vs. Reality
    • Myth: UDL is just good teaching. Reality: Good teaching is subjective; UDL is an organized science-based framework.
    • Myth: I do all of this already. Reality: You may employ certain strategies aligned with UDL, but not the same as deliberate intent, practice, and consistency.
    • Myth: You have to make individual lessons for every student. Reality: Some supports help all students.
    • Myth: Learning barriers exist in students. Reality: Barriers exist in designs.
      • Students need ownership of their learning, but if there are barriers to meeting the goal, we should be looking at the learning environment.
  1. How: UDL Framework and UDL Guidelines
    • Set Clear, Rigorous Goals
      • Set goals one at a time, and be flexible and clear.
      • Clarify goals vs. lowering the expectations.
    • Anticipate Barriers
      • Identify some of the barriers and problems ahead of time.
    • Design Options
      • Design options to address barriers by providing multiple options for engagement, representation, and action and expression to engage the affective, recognition, and strategic networks of the brain. We affect what is relevant for the learning brain.
    • UDL Guidelines
      • They are a tool and a set of suggestions for applying the UDL framework to practice so that all learners can access and engage in meaningful, challenging learning opportunities.
      • The goal of UDL is to develop expert learners.
    • The UDL Guidelines are arranged both horizontally and vertically
      • Vertical: Organized according to the three principles of UDL—Engagement, Representation, and Action/Expression
      • Horizontal: Organized according to Access, Build, and Internalize
      • Suggestion—start small by focusing on “Access.”
  1. Putting it All Together: UDL and Distance Learning
    • Specific examples of how UDL can apply to distance learning
      • How: Provide multiple ways to access materials
      • What: Front-load important information such as vocabulary, organizers
      • Why: Provide student with different modalities to demonstrate their understanding/learning; timely and specific feedback to monitor students' progress towards the learning goal
  1. Takeaways
    • Methods, materials, and assessments need to be flexible.
    • Design to the edges—the average learner is a myth.
    • Start small—it’s a journey, not the destination.
    • It’s the environment that needs to change, not the students.
  1. Additional Resources for UDL visit the UDL Webinar PadletExternal link opens in new window or tab. website.
Questions:   Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources | DistanceLearning@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0881
Last Reviewed: Thursday, April 30, 2020
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