Notes on UDL

I’m halfway through a video on universal design in learning & I wanted to share it here, along with a couple of key takeaways.

Here’s the link:

And here’s what I liked about it:

The video notes that the brain processes information in three big chunks: recognition, skills, and caring/priorities; the video suggests that learning can similarly be grouped into these three same chunks. Put another way, effective teaching about any subject answers three questions:

  • What?
  • How?
  • Why?

I really like this way of divvying up information. When I teach my own subject effectively, I do indeed answer these three questions. If I’m teaching online literacy, for instance, I might teach students what counts as a reliable website, how to tell a reliable website from an unreliable one, and why it matters that we get information from genuinely-reliable sources. There’s a big difference between teaching students the rules that make websites in general reliable, and actually expecting them to decide on their own whether a particular website is in fact reliable; they get it wrong a long at first. So it’s important that teaching answer all three of these questions, in order to help students fully master the topic.

The other thing I liked about the video is that it frames universal design in terms of diversity, instead of disability. While I think there’s value in using the language of disability, I do like the positive framing of student difference, even when that difference comes from genuine learning or physical challenges that students face, such as autism or dyslexia.



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