The new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) encourages states to incorporate the universal design for learning (UDL) instructional strategy in school assessments and use of educational technology. Now, new updates to the itslearning personalized learning management platform support educators’ efforts to apply UDL principles to curriculum design.
UDL is a set of curriculum development principles that uses scientific insights to give all students equal opportunity to learn. “Brain research shows that even when students are performing the same academic activity, the patterns of activity in their brains are as unique as their fingerprints,” said itslearning US vice president of sales and marketing Matt Dobosh. “Curriculums will now address that learner variability. That means that educators have to focus more than ever on curriculum planning, and our latest updates give them the perfect tools to develop lessons that can be customized and adjusted for individual student needs.”
For example, design changes to the itslearning planner simplify the reorganization of plans and elements regardless of the practice or device teachers use. As a result, teachers can give more of their attention to planning the multiple means of representation, engagement, and action and expression required by UDL.
Additionally, changes to itslearning’s rich text editor support users’ compliance with the UDL principle of providing multiple representations of lesson content. The updated editor makes it easier to embed external content, such as YouTube videos, within lessons. This expanded capacity adds to teachers’ ability to design lessons with a large variety of media; those different modalities allow key information to be equally perceptible to all students and thus facilitate learning.
Also supporting teachers’ access to multiple representations of content is school and district administrators’ new ability to add links for Learning Tools Interoperability® (LTI)-aligned tools or content, such as YouTube videos or Khan Academy media, to a course’s +Add page. The new upgrade enables educators to control which apps, plugins, elements and applications appear as defaults on the +Add page for specific schools or districts and increases the external content and tools like text-to-speech readers may need that can be quickly and easily included in lessons.
In addition, educators who have placed lesson materials in OneDrive cloud storage can now upload those files from OneDrive for Business and OneDrive for Education just as they can for Dropbox and Google Drive. So, instead of navigating away from the platform to add material in the cloud storage to a lesson, teachers can upload those files in advance and have everything right at their fingertips during their planning process.
Another platform update streamlining the lesson design process is a new context-sensitive help feature that allows teachers to easily find help links for different tools within the platform. Now, if a teacher needs support with a particular task, they can click on a link that is right on their current page rather than having to navigate to a separate section.
Additionally, itslearning now provides cleaner printouts for students who need to work with material other than digital content. For example, if students don’t have an Internet connection at home, the upgraded printouts make it easier for them to understand and work on the topic while they are away from a computer.
“We are constantly looking for new ways to support instruction and student learning,” said Dobosh. “We are thrilled that educators will be paying more attention to the possibilities that UDL holds for all students’ academic success, and we are prepared to lend assistance with these and future updates.”
Posted on March 15, 2016
by David Hyde