Incorporating technology to enhance student learning and creating teams of stakeholders to drive innovation in all school endeavors are two of a handful of best practices that educators from across the nation shared during a recent webinar on how to develop engaging learning environments.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a principle that has factored largely into Indiana’s Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation’s instructional strategy. UDL is “a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn,” according to the National Center on Universal Design for Learning.
“Our entire framework is focused on UDL; this isn’t just something that we do for children who might have special needs—it really drives all of our instructional decisions,” said Mike Jamerson, director of technology for BCSC, during an Oct. 11 Consortium for School Networking webinar.
In BCSC, UDL influences project-based learning and 21st-century skills.
“Technology really is the supporting role for this, and not the reason we’re doing these things,” Jamerson said. “We have technology in place hand-in-hand with the instructional program.”
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“We’ve taken the approach that UDL is a framework that can be applied in an environment whether or not you have technology available,” said Loui Lord Nelson, BCSC’s Universal Design for Learning (UDL) coordinator. “We don’t want our teachers to feel limited by that, and [we want them] to know that you can be just as creative and create that widely accessible environment for students, no matter what.”
BCSC opened the Columbus Signature Academy (CSA) in 2008, which Jamerson said takes a systemic approach to K-12 instruction using project-based, standards-driven instruction.