Universal design for instruction (UDI)
I learnt a new word : Heterogeneous. It means diverse in character / content.
UDI is about :
- Anticipating this diversity among users.
- Proactively meeting diverse user needs.
There are 9 principals (I’ve tried to outline some of the ways I provide UDI learning and teaching within my classroom in bold after each entry) :
- Equitable use – useful and accessible to people with diverse abilities. I make class materials available online and in handout format. Notes are typed in sans serif fonts which are easier for sufferers of dyslexia to read. Supporting text with images and visa versa means greater accessibility for students with differing learning styles.
- Flexibility in use – designed to accomodate a wide range of abilities. With large groups there is an inevitable diversity of ability particulalry with digital literacy issues. This means it is important to provide a grounding for students of lower ability while giving students who are more able tasks that can challenge them and encourage independent learning (the holy grail of software tutition) whist more support may be needed for others. The fear here is that the best students loose interest if the level or pace of the class is too low.
- Simple and intuitive – straightforward Who sets out to make their classes unnecessarily complicated and inaccessible? I like task based approahes to learning where they are appropriate as the students can see something in context and there is a easily understandable journey for them to reference.
- Perceptible information – communicated effectively regardless of conditions or sensory abilities. I check rooms in advance to make sure projection / display facilities are functioning properly. I encourage students to sit where they can see and hear. I discourage idle chat during demonstrations. I also encourage peer support so if a student can see their neighbor has a problem and they can help they should!
- Tolerance for error – anticipating variation in learning pace and prerequisite skills.Similar to (2) I try to engage with tasks that the weaker students can work through with support where necessary but that don’t limit the stronger students. In an ideal situation the latter will master the basics of the tool or technique and delve deeper into its use, incorporating their own ideas and creativity. This in turn is inspiring to weaker students. Peer review during class lets people share and discuss their experiences with the work.
- Low physical effort – minimum effort to allow maximum attention to learning. I discourage students sitting uncomfortably or where they have to strain to see the demonstrations. Computer teaching rooms are equipped with good mobile seating and sensible height desks. Monitors are easy to re-position.
- Size and space for approach and use – regardless of body size, mobility and communication needs. Where necessary provision for equipment can be negotiated if a students needs are declared. For example we have a regular open access user suffering from muscular issues so provision has been made for a special mouse and keyboard mat. She also receives direct staff support for operating this equipment.
- Community of learners – promote interaction and communication among students and faculty. I use peer discussions and reference my own communities of practice as well as online communities and encouraging students to talk about the class content with friends and colleagues as a way of improving their skill set and feeling like they belong.
- Instructional climate – welcoming and inclusive. I feel the first ten minutes of the first lesson with a new cohort of students is very important! First impressions count lol! I have to establish a balance of welcoming friendliness and a class room demenour conducive to good working. Friendly and fun but not so much so ti becomes unprofessional. I always try to ask students if they need extra support or if their are further questions and provide options for how that support can be provided.
The instructional cycle :
- Assessing learning.
It is still important to be mindful of the effectiveness of implementing instructional strategies.