UDL theory can help embed a personalized approach to the instructional design process

udl-personalizedPersonalized learning. The term is everywhere these days. And it’s tantalizing. It promises to fulfill longstanding ambitions to make education more effective for all. There’s nothing new about personalized learning, either as an aspiration or a practice. It’s an approach that’s as least as old as the one-room school house.

Today, computer-based medical technologies, such functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), have showed us that learning is far more personal than we ever knew. We now know that even subtle changes in educational contexts, methods, and materials can change how the learning brain performs, for better or worse.

At the same time, new technologies have revolutionized how we learn. Portable, personal computers with friendly interfaces, vast computing power, and networked capabilities make it possible to tailor learning to personal interests and needs.

Yet having and using technology in teaching and learning is not enough. 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. The challenge for educators is to realize this potential in the classroom on Monday morning.

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