Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a type of curriculum that is developed to break down barriers for all students, including those with special needs, and maximize their learning opportunities. (UDL, Youtube). This method of learning proves that no one student learns the same, and each one can benefit greatly from an education that varies representation of material, allows them to express themselves freely, and fully engage them by capturing their attention. As technology continues to advance, students are becoming a generation of digital natives, “A generation that is the first to grow up with digital and cyber technologies.” (Nelson, Rosen, Web 2.0) This means that this generation has become experts at technological advances and experiences them on a daily basis. For this reason, it is important for teachers to incorporate some of their students’ interests and abilities into the curriculum.
Web 2.0 teachers incorporate such advances like web sharing and blogging into their classrooms. Unlike previous years of internet usage, information from one person or a group of people can be accessed by many others. This “many to many” feature allows students to search, engage, and participate in internet activities that although educational, may appeal to them. In a special educational setting, it is very important to use activities that students can find enjoyable so that their attention is maintained. This would integrate the different means of representation, expression, and engagement that is fundamental in UDL.
By using UDL and Web 2.0 with students with special needs, students can work at their own pace for specific projects because they can utilize the web from home. They may also feel more comfortable in this setting, and more comfortable using multimedia tools as opposed to traditional ones. Cooperative learning can allow them to feel included amongst their peers and give them a sense of belonging. However, there may also be some drawbacks. With so many people being accessible to the internet, blogging can create hostility from students with different viewpoints. Also, if a student were to post information that was incorrect, they may be scrutinized by their peers, which can affect their self-esteem. Other setbacks can come from students who may want to engage in something more hands on. These issues should be handled proactively by the special education teacher to ensure that UDL mixed with Web 2.0 creates the best learning experience possible.
Rosen, D., Nelson, C. Web 2.0: A new generation of learners and education.
UDL At a glance. Http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDvKnY0g6e4&feature=player_embedded
What is the Internet, Anyway?
After watching “What is the Internet, Anyway,” an interview on The Today’s Show, it amazed me to see how far we have come with technology. I understood how the hosts did not know what the “@” symbol meant, or how it was read, because I remember having the same questions years ago. I can remember a time when “Google” wasn’t popular and people instead “Asked Jeeves”. This just shows how fast technology can advance right before your eyes. As future teachers, there will always be some things that we may still not understand that our “digital native” students may. However, it is our responsibility to gain the knowledge, and not be embarrassed by our now “traditional” ways. We have to consider that these students are being exposed to these advances so frequently that if we utilize other modes of technology that is in a sense, outdated, we may lose their attention and interest.