UDL, simply put, is a framework for designing lessons and projects while keeping learner variation at the forefront. (More specific information about UDL can be found here: www.cast.org.) The UDL model challenges us to think about presenting information and content in different ways, differentiating the ways that students can express what they know, and stimulate interest and motivation for learning (http://www.cast.org/udl/index.html).
Many digital texts and tools support these principles and allow students more access to content knowledge and greater flexibility in demonstrating their content knowledge. Traditional texts present challenges for various types of learners such as the need to decode effectively, the need to see the print, the need to turn the pages, and understand the meanings of many words. Digital texts can mitigate some of these factors for readers. Words can be read aloud, hyperlinks can provide additional and supportive information about word meanings and necessary background knowledge, and pages can be swiped and/or turned automatically.
Where once the five paragraph essay reigned supreme as THE means of presenting learning, we now have digital stories, videos, infographics, podcasts, multimedia posters, and more available to share our knowledge. Additionally, through these tools, which are easily connected to social media channels, we also have an authentic audience and diverse feedback means.
UDL Studio is one free tool available to help educators design materials to support learner variability- http://udlstudio.cast.org/. Other tools such as Glogster, Animoto, and Springpad support learners curate and demonstrate their knowledge.
What are some of your favorite tools to support learner variability?