Universal Design for Learning is Not Learning Styles

Icons representing universal design for learning
Icons from https://www.flaticon.com

Recently, I had a conversation at a conference with an educator, who claimed universal design for learning is learning styles, so we should use learning styles in instruction or training.

No, they are not the same.

Universal design for learning (UDL) facilitates the achievement of learning goals for individuals with learning differences and capabilities [1], as it provides a blueprint and framework to create instructional goals, content, and assessment that can suit everyone [2].

UDL consists of three main blocks tailored to the instructional environment [3] that addresses learning differences [4]. These are multiple means of:

1) Presentation: using a variety of ways to present the content to help learners acquire knowledge [3], e.g. text to speech [5]

2) Action and expression: encouraging learners to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways, such as writing an essay, recording an audio response or creating a video [2]

3) Engagement: using a range of practices and adjustable levels of challenge to enhance learners’ motivation [6], e.g. TheReadingbar software that contains a volume control slider [5]

Considering learning differences and the pace of learning in different individuals, implementing UDL could help learners who cannot keep up with their peers, or have some learning disabilities. UDL does not just provide accessibility, but it eliminates barriers so every learner can succeed [6]. Organizations and instructional designers could use UDL in their learning design process. Extensive research has proven that the use of UDL supports strategic learning and enhance learners’ learning experience [3, 7, 8].

As you see, UDL is different than learning styles, which has been debunked due to not having any supporting evidence. In contrast, research on UDL has been widely replicated and grounded in learning sciences, neuroscience, and cognitive science. It is deeply rooted in Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), scaffolding, and modeling.

If you are interested, learn more about UDL here.

 

References

(1) Trostle Brand, S., Favazza, A., & Dalton, E. (2012). Universal design for learning: A blueprint for success for all learners. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 48(3), 134-139.

(2) Tobin, T.J. (2014). Increase online student retention with universal design for learning. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 15(3), p13-24. 12 pp.

(3) Schelly, C.L, Davies, P.L. & Spooner, C.L. (2011). Student perceptions of faculty implementation of universal design for learning. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 24(1), 17-30. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ941729.pdf

(4) CAST (2011). Universal design for learning guidelines.Retrieved from www.udlcenter.org

(5) Edyburn, D.L. (2005). Universal design for learning. Retrieved from http://www.ocali.org/up_doc/UDL_SETP7.pdf

(6) Novak, K. (2016). UDL now!: A teacher’s guide to applying universal design for learning in today’s classrooms. CAST Professional Publishing, 45, 237-238.

(7) Smith, F.G. (2012). Analyzing a Ccollege course that adheres to the universal design for learning (UDL) framework. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 12(3), 31 – 61. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ992116.pdf

(8) Spencer, J. &Whittaker, C.R. (2017). UDL A Blueprint for Learning Success. Educational Leadership, 74(7), 59-63.

The Long-Awaited Change in Learning

collage.change post

I recently finished a book, called Simpleology, by Mark Joyner and some parts of it resonated with me as an L&D professional. Joyner shares a few simple and straightforward rules of success and happiness that have helped the greatest minds to achieve their goals.

I’m not writing a book review in my post; it’s merely sharing two of the rules that made me think about what we are doing and trying to achieve as IDs, & L&Ds.

To get things we want, we do strange things, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. That’s ok! If nobody tried anything new, we’d be stuck with the same old things and that would make life boring.

Continue reading The Long-Awaited Change in Learning

ReAct Resilience Workshop – My First Volunteering Experience as an ID

Last year I volunteered for a charitable organization_ ReAct _ whose cause is different from many other NPOs that I have seen or worked with. ReAct aims to empower caregivers and help build essential skills in the orphaned to make them ready for a better future, rather than providing their basic needs only. This is what I have always sought, i.e. educating the underprivileged, or in other words teaching them how to fish. One of the skills that all the kids need to possess is being resilient to problems and hardships. That is why I hopped on an exciting journey to create the Resilience course for them.

Initially, I had an eLearning course in mind, which could be distributed in CDs or online, but having learned about poor conditions of orphanages, this seemed to be very unlikely. So the sole delivery mode was face-to-face followed by ongoing support to help them build their skills in being more resilient, assertive, and optimistic. Obviously, a one-or-two-day workshop will not change their behavior significantly, and they need time to build and master this skill. After I completed content writing and course design using scenario-based learning, we decided to run a pilot to see how the kids find it before conducting it in a large scale. After all, they are the target audience and their reactions and suggestions mean a lot. Besides, it was important for me to receive their feedback as I was not familiar with their culture and lifestyle.

Continue reading ReAct Resilience Workshop – My First Volunteering Experience as an ID

Learning to Teach Online – My Takeaway

I’ve just completed a Coursera course on Online Teaching. This was my fourth Mooc but the first one that I completed throughout as I signed up for the certificate!! (to be more motivated). I decided to go through the entire experience as an online learner to find out how a course design will help me achieve the expected outcomes. What I’d like to share with you is my observation on the course design.

Below is a list of what I found effective: Continue reading Learning to Teach Online – My Takeaway

Is there more to an Instructional Designer’s Role?

 

Source:www.freedigitalphotos.net
Source:www.freedigitalphotos.net

Do we instructional designers have to see beyond a course design? I mean to what extent do we want to get involved to ensure the designed courses are used effectively by learners? Do we have to consider learners’ interest or motivation in a course? Before, my answer to these questions was as long as I follow a model and some learning theories coupled with engaging activities, I should be proud of my course. Our job ends once a course is pilot tested and delivered to stakeholders. Then we move on to the next project.

Continue reading Is there more to an Instructional Designer’s Role?