Within the last decade, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) has grown in how it is presented and understood in the educational field.
Below is the concept map I made showing my understanding of UDL. I created the map using MindMup, which is useful, but can be fairly limiting. If you check the draft I tweeted, I have circles that connect to the center of my map as well as to other ones throughout the map. I overcame this struggle by color coding my thoughts.
Color coding is one of my go to methods for presenting concepts for students to understand. In this example, I have eight different colors, not including the white center for UDL.
The eight colored categories go as followed:
Orange represents the posed questions of UDL, such as the why, how, and what is it.
Yellow are the principles of UDL.
Green represents how they relate to the three parts of the brain.
Pink are characteristics of UDL.
Plum is the sub categories that appeared in my explanation of UDL.
Light blue are the pathways of UDL.
Blue are the goals of UDL.
Lastly, faded yellow are questions I had.
UDL has three different principles, engagement, action and expression, and representation; each of these connects to a different part of the brain used for learning. The connects were not revealed until later to me. When I made the connection, I wanted to have the concept map be a large circle that had inter-working characteristics and questions. However, I was deeply attached to my draft and the tool I was using worked with linear connections.
The characteristics of UDL are ones that have traveled with me through my training towards being a teacher. We are taught how to individualize instruction to accommodate disabilities and diversity. However, a valuable lesson I learned in studying UDL is “essential for some, good for all.” While closed captions might not be needed for all, it is a tool that can help many other people aside from those that are deaf or hard of hearing. When I watch Netflix, I have captions on for several reasons. One, in case I miss something because my surroundings got too loud. Second, because reading has already been a challenge with me, so hearing and seeing words helps me for when I am reading things aloud later, without accompanying audio. Other characteristics, such as “varied” and “absorbing” are in the nature of how they relate to the students. “Absorbing” is a direct link to “recognition,” which is also varied to engage each and every student.
The goal of UDL is to create expert thinkers and flexible pathways. These goals are set and questioned by the goal of education and what the destination is. Recently, the goal of education has been product based in producing set skills and knowledge that could be useful to the students, if they all my students became Latin teachers (an example used for my domain). However, educators are looking to move pass the factory school setting and make students into critical thinkers and better citizens. The shift in focus allows flexible pathways through students being able to choose their destination and have the right guidance along the way, regardless of the path or if they change course.
D. Gordon, A. Meyer, & D. Rose. (2014). Universal design for learning: Theory and practice, 48-56.