Essential for some but good for all

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Essential for some but good for all (Meyer 2014). This statement was from a reading for an Assistive Technology (AT) & Universal Design for Learning (UDL) class and really had an impact on me.  This can refer to learning content and materials used in a school as well as something as simple as captions on a television. For example, someone with hearing impairments, captions are crucial to understand what they are watching, though someone at the gym or in a waiting room could also benefit from captions.   

I think this statement also has an influence in the workforce and it needs to be emphasized more.  While work may not be at the forefront of what someone thinks of as a place to learn, it is, just in a different and more focused capacity.  Many people might categorize themselves as visual learners and/or someone who ‘learns by doing’. This is something that must be considered in the development for training staff.

Over 10-15 years ago office manuals or directions for processes (if they existed) primarily would include a printout of plain text instructions outlining what to do step-by-step. This left room for error to each person’s interpretation and understanding of the process, not to mention that the directions were rarely updated if there was a change.  Someone with a learning disability such as dyslexia, could have had difficulty reading and referring to the text alone.  Now, computers and technology allow us to include screenshots and images providing more clarification and in some situations, video demonstrations.  It may seem silly or trivial, but circling something in a picture can make all the difference in the world to someone and relates back to the statement that what may be necessary for some, is typically helpful for everyone.   

As a manager running staff meetings and retreats for the office, visual displays and engagement have become more and more important.  The need for digital literacy as a supervisor is crucial to be successful especially now that the young personnel entering the workforce are more and more technology savvy. 

In many ways, a supervisor should be a teacher to staff, teaching them new skills that will allow them to grow professionally and personally.  As a supervisor, it is also imperative to understand the needs and effective teaching methods for each staff member. Understanding the best way someone learns or what motivates them is the key to success though unfortunately this is something many managers need to work on.

Technology truly provides more flexibility and opportunities for teaching both in the classroom as well as at work.  Technology also provides a more effective method for demonstrations or test runs, to allow people to learn from mistakes before they happen in a real-life scenario. A perfect example would be simulation labs for nurses and doctors or practice drills for cops and the military. I think the proverb ‘practice makes perfect’ is famously used for a reason and technology helps us get to the end result faster and in different capacities.

Resources: Meyer, A., Rose, D.H., & Gordon, D. (2014). Universal design for learning: Theory and Practice. Wakefield, MA: CAST Professional Publishing.

One thought on “Essential for some but good for all

  1. HI Tracy, Thanks for bringing this very important perspective on UDL to the blog. As Accessibility advocates have pointed out, UDL provides a path to universal access that benefits everyone–and, if we design for Universal access on the front end, it saves individual learners from the stress of having to make requests for things that should have been considered anyway.

    As you pointed out, these guidelines are as important in the workplace as they are in our schools and classrooms. In fact, in the digital age in particular, our workplaces are places of constant and life-long learning as so much agility and adaptability is required of workers in the fast changing technology-rich workplace.

    I love the graphic representation of UDL in this IHE article which also points out the same issues you are discussing: https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/gradhacker/tuning-your-pedagogical-practices-building-universal-teaching-environment

    Like

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