Universal Design for Learning: Strategies for Blended and Online Learning

Section 1.3: Multiple Paths to Success

Recall that UDL is a design framework that advocates for multiple means of engagement, representation, and expression. It was developed to account for the jaggedness of learners. Research in the last 40 years has shown that, contrary to being a tabula rasa (blank slate) that is gradually filled with knowledge as a bathtub fills with water, human learning is a constructivist enterprise in which we use everything we have learned to structure and make sense of everything we continue to learn (Vygotsky, 1978; Packer & Goicoechea, 2000).

Since our experience, learning preferences, aptitudes, and sense-making are different, we are bound to take different paths in the journey of learning. The idea that we learn along multiple paths means that we:

  1. Identify diverse learning approaches
    • Need to develop one set of skills before we can learn another set of skills
    • Have developed particular ways of achieving accessible experiences
    • Need to develop background knowledge
    • Learn through reading, writing, watching, storytelling, building, or testing
  2. Recognize schooling can be disruptive
    • Start post-secondary studies later than expected (e.g. gap year)
    • Switch programs of study suddenly
    • Integrate school with work
    • Learning remotely and/or online
  3. Develop and mobilize practical knowledge
    • Negotiate the best ways to demonstrate learning
    • Work strategically to transfer learning

The idea of multiple paths also implies that those paths change depending on the subject matter, a shift in goals, time constraints, and resources. The strategic aspect of learning shows up in these multiple pathways. For more ideas and examples on multiple paths, please check UDL on Campus published by CAST.


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A Comprehensive Guide to Applying Universal Design for Learning Copyright © 2022 by Dr. Seanna Takacs; Junsong Zhang; Helen Lee; Lynn Truong; and David Smulders is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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