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Central Role of Technology in UDL
Technology allows educators the opportunity to meet the needs of all their diverse learners by stimulating all three brain networks. The teacher is actually able to individualize instruction for each learner to address their individual disability, language barrier, learning preference and learning style.
Assistive and adaptive technologies are those technologies which allow individuals with disabilities and physical limitations to use devises to complete a task they otherwise would be unable to complete. Examples of these this type of equipment are hearing aids, voice recognition software, large screen monitors, and specially designed keyboards and mice.
Software can also help differentiate instruction. Voice recognition software, translation programs, and remediation programs to allow students time to practice specific skills are all beneficial to all students at one time or another depending on their specific needs.
Technology, Brain Research and Instructional Implications
Technology and Multiple Ways of Representation
Teachers can provide differentiated instruction to activate the recognition network to meet the needs of all students through the use of technology in order to provide multiple examples to activate prior knowledge, and highlight critical features.
Digital technology allows the flexibility teachers need to use a variety of sound, video, and images to introduce concepts in meaningful ways to students no matter the amount of background knowledge they have. This digital content can be saved from year to year, and students are able to manipulate the media to interact with the content.
Technology and Multiple Means of Action and Expression
As students are introduced to new concepts, they need practice to fully learn and know how apply the new information. In the strategic network, students are able to process explore, practice and take action on new knowledge. Technology allows the teacher to be flexible in order to meet the needs of all students in the class accomplish just this.
Using digital media, teachers can provide instruction to the whole class, in groups or one on one. They can provide choice of formats for students to learn and practice the new skills, be it auditory or visual, or a combination. Teachers can post the online to sources and software and other resources students will find helpful. Students can work individually or in groups to manipulate the digital media themselves as a means of exploration and repetition. They can also plan and implement a technology based product of their choice to demonstrate their new knowledge.
Technology and Multiple Means of Engagement
Choice is the key to engage students in their learning. Students without choice often ask why when it comes to learning. They are not motivated because they are not emotionally connected to their learning. In order for students to love to learn, they need emotional engagement.
Teachers can cultivate a students' emotional connection to learning in the classroom by adding choice. Choice of how to access digital content. Choice of working in groups or alone, Choice of working in their zone of proximal development. Choice of rewards in the form of meaningful support to the student. Choice of how much scaffolding the teacher provides during the lesson. Choice of learning environment. These are all essential to the full engagement of the student during the learning process.
Creating a UDL Compatable Class Website
In 2001 Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act went into effect requiring federal funded websites to meet certain standards in order to provide an online environment which is accessible to everyone. The University of Missouri provides several suggestions to their staff to meet those guidelines. I have included them here because I feel they are important to our efforts to meet the needs of all our learners as we ask them to access the web more often.
First the web pages should be clear and consist throughout the website. The navigation bar should be in the same location on each page, contrast between the background color and font color should be high, and text should be written in standard HTML format. Navigation buttons need to be large and easy to view. Special consideration should be given to images added to the page and video and audio should have transcripts included.
The webpage should be created with screen readers in mind. Suggestions include using acronyms sparingly, understanding screen readers read across the rows of tables so organize any included on the web page accordingly, display links by using the full URL, and add descriptions to any graphics used.
Keeping these tips in mind will provide the access your visually impaired students need to your webpage.