The Universal Design and ICTs for Assessment

The purpose of this post reflects the learning focus for this week, as we explore “topics of interest” based on an EDC 3100 survey from last week. The options were limited and specialised, although I’m sure with good reason you could explore any version of ICTs and Learning that was relevant. For me this was an area I knew very little about, and a good way to become informed before commencing prac.

The concept of Universal Design was was born through architecture, where a physical space was created to be accessed by a wide variety of people (Matrath, Clarke-Midura, Robinson, 2012), and that same guiding principle has been the driving force behind the use of technology in education. The philosophy is simple- Design products and environments that can be used by everyone, including those students with special needs. The fundamental idea within this post is that “assessment” must also be accessible for all students. The student diversity of the regular classroom, will more than likely include any of the following:

  • Students who speak English as a second language (ESL)
  • Students who are visually or hearing impaired
  • Sensory or physical disabilities
  • Behaviour or engagement issues
  • Learning impairments or disorders, such as dyslexia

An awareness of this type of diversity links in nicely with Mrs Poulter’s comments regarding

  • Multiple means of representation (what?)
  • Multiple means of action and expression (how?)
  • Multiple means of engagement (why?)
Click on the screenshot below to explore the range of technology tools that may contribute to the success of all students, including those with disabilities with minimal use of assistive technologies (AT)

 

I found the following scoop.it (another platform for which I was not familiar), by Smaragda Papadopoulou who has curated several articles, downloads and blogs dedicated to UDL and ICT

It seems the app store is also finding new ways to supplement the learning needs for students with different learning needs, without relying on Assistive Technologies (AT) to bridge the gap. The Universal Design has built in accommodations, and therefore add on technology is seldom needed to translate the learning objectives into a mode that enables learning. To demonstrate this point I have created an account with CAST UDL Book Builder to create your own interactive “books,” which help young readers learn reading strategies to build comprehension. You can also enter your own text, images, and hints. The only drawback is that it is time consuming, as audio files have to be created on a different program before being uploaded onto the book. But at the end of the day I think the results and engagement would outweigh the deficits. I like the addition of the characters in the bottom left hand corner who support learning by providing visual strategies and prompts (this is also something you create when you develop your text). If you create a login, you can view a book I created entitled My Little Brother Harry (not very good yet, but at least I know what I’m in for now).

The beauty of this program is that it allows those students who might struggle with reading and comprehension to independently engage in their learning, while the teacher attends to other students. Social skills can also be introduced and taught in a fun and interactive way. Creating this type of resource can be time consuming, but eventually you would have a collection of interactive books for every age, class and occasion- allowing all students to succeed.

 

It would seem that most teachers are aware of the Universal Design philosophy (I asked my mentor teacher the other day) but most are unaware of the technology that is available to them, which allows their students to access the curriculum and be assessed on their content knowledge, using a medium that facilitates expression. I have a few behavioural issues in my upcoming prac class, and one diagnosed ADHD, and thought I could use this bookmaker to develop social stories.

A quick google search will provide you with a plethora of advice and resources on the subject of Universal Design and ICTs in Assessment. Click on the screenshot below to participate in an online presentation.

References:

Mayrath, M., Clarke- Midura, J. & Robinson, D. (2012). Technology-Based Assessments for 21st Century Skills: Theoretical and Practical Implications from Modern Research: Current perspectives on learning, cognition and instruction. New York, NY: IAP.

5 thoughts on “The Universal Design and ICTs for Assessment

  1. Thanks for your post Jen. I was only talking about UDL to my mentor teacher yesterday. It may sound self-centred, but my main reason for researching and taking a UDL approach to my planning and pedagogy is to save me time!

    All classes have many students that need curriculum differentiation in order to engage with the learning and to demonstrate their understanding. It is more efficient for me to build the differentiation into my teaching plan rather than needing to make a myriad of adjustments.

    Many schools, however, are adopting C2C units and are enforcing their use verbatim. Anyone who has used a C2C unit knows that they need adjusting to allow for appropriate context, available resources and catering for differences. I am hoping that UDL underpins future units.

    Mel

    • Hi Mel,
      I agree with your assertion that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of differentiation within the C2C units prescribed. Therefore the UDL philosophy will save time in the classroom, but require the dedication of teachers like yourself who are willing to create these supportive resources on their own time. At least its nice to know that there are technological tools that will assist in lesson planning and academic learning, but not sure if all teachers will comply due to the limitations and expectations this curriculum demands. Hope you are enjoying your prac experience, will you send the link to your blog so I can learn from your experiences?
      Have fun,
      Jenni

  2. Pingback: Learning Pathways - More on UDL

    • Thanks for the pingback Mrs Parry, how good is all of this information? Hoping that I will be able to contribute to it in one way shape or form when there are more hours in the day.
      Kind regards,
      Jenni

  3. Pingback: My Learning Diary - Universal Designs and ICT for learning

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