Back when I was building an adaptive learning system that presented content differentially based upon the individual’s characteristics as a learner, I came across the concept of ‘universal learning design’. It sounded like a great idea, but there wasn’t really any useful guidance at that time.
I was recently reminded about it by a talk announcement and went back to the CAST site (Center for Applied Special Technology). There I found more guidance, particularly in the form of a book on the subject.
Their core notion is to have multiple representations of the content (which I already support as an instantiation of Rand Spiro’s Cognitive Flexibility Theory), multiple forms of assessment (which is why I support eportfolios), and multiple forms of affective support. It’s the latter that resonates for me currently, as I’m recognizing that at least some of the power of engaged learning comes from addressing the affective/emotional components of learning.
Their specific thoughts on this are found in this chapter, and there’re some examples to make it concrete.
I am still trying to go further, and incorporate attitude change into the learning process as well, recognizing that equipping the mind isn’t sufficient if the behavior change requires an associated attitude change. Also deciding when you need major change and when it’s just the right ‘nudge’ that’s necessary. However, those are topics for other posts I reckon.
There’s also the