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Universal Design for Learning Could Help Personalize Learning

Universal Design for Learning Could Help Personalize Learning

For those unfamiliar, the Universal Design of Learning (UDL) is a theory developed in the 1990s that stipulates that teaching for all can be optimized by studying how humans learn and using that information to design universal learning plans.

One educator, David Gordon, believes using UDL for implementing instruction will result in effective personalized learning to provide the best results in the classroom.

"Rather, making the most of technology requires a methodical and principled approach, one that turns the aspirations of personalized learning into an effective practice of personalized learning. Universal design for learning makes that practice possible," Gordon said, according to

Gordon is a researcher for Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), and CAST sets out to create personalized learning by dividing the learning brain into distinct parts: "[e]ffective networks that evaluate and set priorities (the 'why' of learning); Recognition networks that receive and analyze information (the 'what' of learning); Strategic networks that plan and execute actions (the 'how' of learning)," according to the article.

These then translate into the principals that guide personalized learning designed to help teachers best educate.

Gordon divides lesson planning into four different subsets: goals, methods, materials, and assessments and says that these five areas are where UDL can be designed and integrated.

First and foremost, Gordon encourages educators to focus on clear, concise goals.

Goals, he said, should be "decoupled from the means to achieve them so that teachers can effectively plan to provide multiple pathways to success..K-12 instructional goals are usually tied to standards, which articulate a baseline of knowledge and skills that the community values. But well-designed standards also leave room for educators to shape classroom goals and to personalize the means for achieving them."

Next, Gordon tells educators to focus on the methods in which they will reach their goals. He suggests using UDL methods such as blended learning and peer-to-peer support.

For applying UDL to instruction materials, Gordon recommends "materials that are engaging and that have the flexibility to give learners multiple avenues of access. In digital environments, look for text-to-speech and synchronized highlighting options to enhance text"

Finally, Gordon says that assessments must be "well-crafted formative assessments, the kind employed during instruction to gauge a learner’s progress. They may be formal (as in quizzes) or informal ('how are you doing?')."

He suggests dividing assessments between formative and flexible ones to get the best understanding of the effectiveness of teaching practices.

By using this formula, Gordon says, teachers will best be able to use UDL to develop successful and effective personalized learning.

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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