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Welcome IT 6740 Students to the Universal Design for Learning Wiki

Welcome to the Spring 2006 IT 6740 UDL (Unit 9) wiki Web site. (What is a "wiki?") Read more about this wiki.

There are two purposes to this Wiki:

  • First, we want to experience a Wiki and the learning processes involved in building a knowledge base about a significant topic.
  • Second, the building of a knowledge base is a continual process. We are building a UDL knowledge base that we and other instructional designers and educators can use throughout our careers.

I appreciate your sense of adventure in trying out a new technology. -SG

Before you continue reading below, first read Kami's Story, then read the Class Instructions page.

Nervous about contributing to the wiki? Fear not, there's a pretty extensive Help page to guide you through the process.


We are beginning to build this knowledge base. It takes a long time to create one. So, my expectations are that you try to contribute a new piece of knowledge or modify an existing piece. I do NOT expect us to completely populate this site. I'd like you to contribute something. Yes "something" is a broad word. Let's see how it works, how we can use it, and how it can help us learn. -SG

Is the layout of this wiki too busy for you?  Change it!

Universal Design for Learning

History: Universal Design, a term which originated in the field of architecture, emerged from the access needs of people with disabilities. Rather than retrofitting an existing building to make it accessible to those with disabilities, one who practices Universal Design would design the building to make it accessible to a broad spectrum of users from the very beginning. Designing for the divergent needs of special populations increases usability for everyone.

In the 1990's, educators recognized that learning materials such as books were analogous to stairs. For many learners, books provide access to the knowledge of our culture, but for students with physical, sensory, and cognitive disabilities, books present insurmountable barriers. Technologies were developed to improve access to the content of books but, like retrofitted ramps in buildings, these technologies were expensive, awkward to use, and isolated learners from their peers.

When multimedia and hypermedia software was developed to help solve this problem, it became possible to explore electronic alternatives to printed books with "built-in" means of access to address varied learners' needs. Because access to information and access to learning are different in character and present different challenges, the term "Universal Design for Learning" was created to differentiate learning from access. Journal for Special Education Technology

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in education refers to the design and development of educational materials and instructional strategies that are accessible to a broad spectrum of learners with a wide array of abilities and disabilities. It seems more effective to design instruction with the universal design concept in mind, rather than altering the original design of the instruction.

UDL and the Link to Brain Research

Neuroscience research has identified three primary brain networks that tell us something about the way people learn:

  • The Recognition Brain Network helps people categorize what is seen, heard, or read, and answers the question, "What?"
  • The Strategic Brain Network aids in planning and performing tasks and answers the question, "How?"
  • The Affective Brain Network is used to attach emotional significance to patterns, content, and assignments. In this way, people can become engaged in learning by establishing preferences to different ways of approaching learning. This answers the question, "Why?"

Universal Design for Learning calls for ...

To accommodate for individual differences in the way the three brain networks are utilized, UDL has three principles on which to base instructional design.

  • Multiple means of representation, to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge.
  • Multiple means of expression, to provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know.
  • Multiple means of engagement, to tap into learners' interests, offer appropriate challenges, and increase motivation.

This is according to the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST Website).


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