Have you ever watched a film with subtitles? Closed captions help many viewers to follow a storyline and understand dialogue. Subtitles are used for watching a film in a foreign language, for the hard of hearing, to watch a movie quietly so as not to disturb others and in public spaces where TV is transmitted without sound.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is similar to closed captioning in that it applies the same principle: it addresses the needs of different users. UDL is an approach to curriculum that minimizes barriers and maximizes learning for all students. By following UDL’s three principles – Recognition, Action & Expression and Engagement – along with a diverse set of practices, there is a better chance of success.
The Main Challenge is finding the time to implement new ideas. James Cressey is an Assistant Professor of Education at Framingham State University. “Having been a classroom teacher myself, I know that teachers often see trends that come and go because of poor implementation. If a new approach is not introduced well – often with not enough training for teachers – then it is not sustainable over time.”
Ongoing coaching and professional development, therefore, is one of the challenges of a UDL high scale implementation. Therefore, using the first year to plan and prepare the best approach is essential.
Five Tips for Implementing UDL
· Determine goals to help students know what they’re working towards and to stay on track.
· Offer students different ways to complete their assignments.
· Build flexible workspaces where students can either work individually or engage in group activities.
· Provide students with constant feedback on their performance; if possible, do this on a daily basis.
· Allow the use of different media, including print, digital and audio materials.