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Here is an article that discusses this question:

 

UDL Unplugged: The Role of Technology in UDL

This paper examines the question of whether technology is central to the foundations of UDL or whether UDL is useful as a pedagogical framework that goes beyond technology. This paper uses the UDL guidelines as a structural framework through which to examine these questions.

 

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Technology is the term we use to refer to any "tool" used to modify the process, result or cost of the work we do.

When we consider technology for students etc., we need to make sure that we consider the impact of the tool on the process, results and cost of the learning goal.  Every tool has a purpose but not every tool can help with every job.

Great point, Glen! Some people feel that you can't implement UDL without using digital technology. I'd be interested in what others think about that. In other words, is digital technology a critical element of UDL or can UDL be implemented without it?

It would be misleading to state that UDL cannot be implemented without the use of digital technology, since it can, depending on the situation. What however is for sure is that technology, thanks to its flexibility, can facilitate the implementation of UDL. A great amount of digital tools can serve as flexible instructional means, enabling instructors to provide multiple means of representation and expression while fostering the design and development of engaging learning environments!!! :-)

Without digital technology (media and tools), UDL is just a good idea. With technology, UDL becomes palpable, visible and REAL!
This is a great example of a professor crafting a demonstration for students with disabilities that turns out to be interesting and compelling for all students. Particularly valuable is that students get to construct the cell in a hands-on manner. Still, digital tools are available for crafting tactile images (maps, diagrams, models, etc.) that talk as they are being palpated. Touch Graphics allows blind students to listen to instructor narrations as they explore tactile displays, among other truly interesting applications of digital tools for blind students.

UDL in a classroom

 

The above link is a published article in the Canadian Education Association. It tries to tell a story of UDL implemented. We would very much value your feedback.

We hope that you will notice that technology is a part of UDL and that the formative assessment blended with the idea of inquiry and community create a truly universal environment where each learner can succeed. No one is sent to the back of the building to go up the service elevator like what used to happen to our 'handicapable' loved ones. Each learner can work with his/her peers and find success. If technology is needed, it is available.

Thoughts?

Kerry,

Thanks for sharing this article with us. I was actually surprised about how little technology was used during the course of the classroom visit and how supported the students were in other ways.

I would like to post the article in the Guideline 7 discussion, Practice: How do you recruit interest in your classroom?. There were so many thoughtful ways you set up the learning environment that illustrates that guideline. I hope you will join in that discussion too.

Kerry, The classroom sounds wonderful. Can you talk a little more about how you set up the expectations in the environment and what kind of planning time is necessary? I am afraid that this may be getting us a little off the topic of technology.

 

Yvonne

The environment is the part that includes technology in that it is a community of learners where no matter what level, the student stays in class and works with his/her peers; and if that takes technology then voila - technology. For example, I have a student that requires Kurzweil for reading and so he stays in class with his peers, even though we don't have computers on everyone's desk. That attitude and believe in inclusion is the key to implementation of UDL and technology for me. Dignifying each child by creating an environment of acceptance and belonging no matter what their learning needs.

 

Expectations are clear in British Columbia. We have curriculum online and performance standards made by teachers for teachers. Our ministry of education website is a wealth of information around expectations.

 

Our assessment practice also tries to fall in line with David Rose's metaphor of the GPS. At each iteration of learning, we provide, discuss and clarify learning intentions and criteria coupled with processes around descriptive feedback. That is so key to UDL also.

 

Where are you Yvonne?

 

Kerry

 

 

Hi Kerry, Sorry for the delayed response. I am at CAST. Your philosophy and practice sounds wonderful.


Yvonne

Technology-Less UDL is not meant to suggest that the technology is essential, would you agree? It is the 21st century and we can not make a case that education would be without technology. 

 

Traction for change meant that I had to start with changing our attitudes around the principles of UDL  and teaching to diversity without a discussion on how much it would cost to get computers and programs and defend that they would not take teacher's jobs. I feel bad when my work does not have the focus on life changing technology is for many of my students. J.G. for example has read 5 novels with the use of a Kurzweil and and an MP3 play and that did not cost anything! Without this technology, he would not be doing grade level work in-spite of his strong abilities around thinking and problem solving. He just can't read text.

What can we do to change our belief system without a discussion on how much it costs? Do we value diversity in classes and can we 'accommodate' (Edyburn AAA model) most of our learners without technology? Should that be acceptable to implement UDL without technology? Any advice?

In my opinion technology is the tool that helps UDL to work in a classroom. Is it essential? I think that is up for debate. Can a teacher provide a UDL environment without technology? I think that they can however in order for the experience to continue to support students as they walk out the door, I think that we simply must integrate accessible  technology in worthwhile appropriate ways. Should you throw technology at a problem that can not be duplicated outside of the learning environment? I think that anytime that technology as a tool is used to support the learning process it should be able to be duplicated. How does it help our students to give them tools they can "only" use when in school? We need to be arming students for the future, teaching them to modify their learning environments to meet their needs so they can be their best advocates. If the only way a student can access information is through (insert brand x here) then they better have access to that brand outside of the current learning environment.

 

We know that all students learn differently and now we need to show students how to set up their own learning environments so that their success continues outside of the four walls of their learning institution. Just my opinion. : )

 

~Anne T

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