red apple fruit on four pyle books

In the past year we all plunged into the virtual learning world at a the whim of. In the beginning, educators did not have time to consider the possibility that our virtual classrooms for K-12 were accessible to all students. We’re now more than a full calendar into remote and blended learning. Planned for the 2021-2022 school year is now in the near future. It’s the perfect moment to consider the accessibility of virtual classrooms.

Are you thinking that learning via virtual technology will soon be a thing of the time of the pandemic? It doesn’t seem to be the scenario. Although districts are starting to allow in-person learning some schools in the K-12 sector will still provide some kind of online learning in the near future. Many parents will be interested in the option. [1]

There’s a great system to know whether your online class is accessible. It’s known as”the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) [22.Consider these UDL-based questions to determine access to your virtual classroom.

“Venn Diagram” by University of Denver is licensed under CC BY 4.0/ Design modified from original From: http://ctlrdc.ca/curriculum-design-pedagogy/universal-design-for-learning/

What is the Universal Design for Learning?

Before we get into the discussion we’ll take a closer review of UDL itself. In essence, UDL is a framework that allows you to create flexible educational goals and methods, as well as assessments and tools. This means that UDL allows you to design a an educational program that you can adapt to the needs of each student. UDL employs three principles to enable you to create flexible learning experiences for your students:

  • Representation
  • Action and Expression
  • Engagement.

Apart from the UDL principles there are two fundamental questions to consider:

What are the expected student outcomes?

As you review the curriculum, consider the outcomes that you’re leading your students towards. These are the outcomes you want them to be aware of or do at the end of the unit , or course. One good idea is to consider tangible outcomes for your students. For instance, a third grade maths outcome could be “By the end of third grade, a student should multiply and divide by 6,7, 8, and 9.”

What is the issue that my students are facing’ eyes?

Once you’ve determined your the desired outcomes for learning Consider what could stop your students from achieving these goals. Your students are different. Each brings their own backgrounds, interests in addition to their strengths and weaknesses to your mixed learning system. They also have different methods of learning. It is important to eliminate any content from your virtual classroom which could hinder your students from participating in learning.

Questions to Ask About Representation

This UDL principles of representation will help you offer your students multiple ways to learn your material. Here are some questions to consider when you are considering this principle:

  • Do I have instructional text in order for students?
  • Do my materials contain videos or other multimedia presentation?
  • Does me to show my pupils?
  • Have I provided my students pictures to study from (think of diagrams, infographics, or interactive)?

There are a variety of tools in the world that will help you adhere to the representation guidelines. For instance FOSS [33 provides an extensive library of eBooks as well as online tutorials that can be used to enhance your STEM course.

Questions to Ask About Engagement

The main ingredient in UDL’s UDL principal of involvement is the student’s choice. The goal is to ignite your students curiosity about a particular topic. The questions you should think about include:

  • Do my activities give students options on what topics they can study?
  • Does my curriculum include menus or playlists that are interactive? students can study in the order that they want?
  • Do I use various tools to convey the course for my pupils?

When considering engagement, think about the many methods your students learn. Find materials and technologies that can engage your students. OER Commons has a great collection of Open Educational Resources (OERs) to browse. [4]

Questions to Ask About Action and Expression

While engagement is focused on presentation and presentation, UDL’s concept of expression and action is about providing students with different ways to display the lessons they’ve learned. Consider the following:

  • Do my students provide their responses in a variety of ways (e.g. responses via audio, video or in writing)?
  • Are my pupils given the option of choosing the tools they employ to generate these responses?
  • What other strategies besides traditional tests can I employ to assist students in demonstrating their results in their learning?

There are a myriad of classroom technology tools — many that can be integrated to the Learning Management System (LMS)–to help you provide your students with options. Scratch is a fantastic program that lets students develop tasks. [5]Audacity is an excellent open-source tool to record and edit audio, and even making music. There are many more that integrate video recording, audio recording as well as transcription.

Other Important Questions About Accessibility

There are accessibility concepts that are cross-cutting the three fundamentals that comprise UDL. [6] Questions that you may ask on this page include:

  • Do the videos I’m using come with closed captions?
  • Do I need to provide transcriptions or transcripts from my audio or video files?
  • Do my documents have access features? [7]
  • What can I do to help my students and parents provide comments on accessibility or other tools we’re making use of? [8]
  • Have I provided an extra level of flexibility and support to my pupils who require it?
  • Are I connecting with my others to discuss the things that are working and what I should be looking at?
  • Do I give myself enough room to try new things to fail, then try again, and take a break?

Defining Student Outcomes and Clearing Obstacles

There are a myriad of questions you could ask to find out whether your virtual class is available. There are a variety of techniques and methods you can implement to ensure it’s there. Do you feel overwhelmed? Yes, but if you concentrate on two basic questions, the road to accessibility will be clearer. Be sure to keep your student’s goals in your mind. Make sure you remove any obstacles that might prevent students from reaching their objectives. If you can do this then you’ll be on the way to a streamlined virtual classroom.

 

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