Over the past three years, I have been working internationally with teacher preparation for inclusive schooling, primarily in South Africa, I have also been working with a group of international inclusive education graduate students from countries across Africa, Asia, and Europe. In using the UDL Principles in my lectures and workshops as a conceptual framework for thinking differently about instruction, the question always arises: "How do we do this when we have no technology?" (Truth be told, these teachers often have little except a full room of learners, desks and benches.)
I truly believe that the UDL principles are valid in any environment, but it would help if we could begin a supportive discussion about actual implementation in such sites. I look forward to this site being a place to begin to share those applications, applications equally valid in any school environment challenged in resources, or simply choosing not to connect education exclusively to technology. This discussion will also be important to the schools and countries across the globe for whom inclusive education is not simply a disability accommodation issue, but one of welcoming all students into the learning environment, regardless of gender, language, religion, economics, ethnicity, and so on.
If you have ideas, resources, or simply want to connect on exploring this topic,consider yourself invited!
Thanks, Brielle. I will save your link for my future work with international teachers and teacher candidates.
My colleagues in South Africa have so many challenges, but there are ways to make a difficult situation better. Based on the richness of this discussion as we go, it might be possible to produce a guide to publish through UNESCO in support of inclusive practice world-wide.
Dear Eileen, I am coordinating CAST's international efforts. Your comment is somewhat timely. We recently hosted a group of people who, like yourself are promoting UDL internationally as a way to provide more people with access to education. This issue came up during that discussion and often comes up with teachers from the US as well. Technology's arrival on the education scene helped with the conception of the idea and technology makes UDL much easier to implement. However, I agree with you that the framework is useful even without technology. In my opinion, the concept of UDL as a conceptual shift is the place where discussions should start. I think once teachers accept the idea that learner variability is the norm and so should be accommodated in educational environments by providing options, the framework is very applicable in any environment. I love your idea about creating a UNESCO guide. Let's keep talking about this!
I would love to be more involved in your international efforts toward UDL. I am part of an author team here in South Africa who are completing a book focused on inclusive practices, including UDL. The book will be available to teacher preparation programs within South Africa for 2013. You are correct that helping teachers understand that there is diversity of learning in every classroom, and that all learners have needs and all need support as South Africa's Education White Paper #6 asserts. The trick is helping teachers see that even when there are no visible disabilities, there are differing learning needs.... and that UDL provides a powerful framework for creating more inclusive learning spaces.