Thursday, October 30, 2014

It takes two to tango, like an orange and a mango (The Phoenix Foundation)

At ulearn14, Dr Katie Novak was a shining star. We all fell in love with her. 'We' being the fearless foursome from Woodford House.

Let me just dwell on that a sec: the foursome comprised three females and me; one mathematician, one scientist, one elearning/business studies expert and me.

I repeat: we all fell in love with Dr Novak! 

That's some feat. How the dickens did that happen?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides the answer. It hit a collective nerve.

So what is UDL?

The fundamental principle behind it is revolutionary - we are all different!

We all learn in different ways. We understand things in different ways so we all require different ways of approaching content. Some learn some things faster than others so providing options is essential.  

We all approach learning tasks in different ways. Some may be able to express themselves well in written text but not speech, and vice versa so providing options for action and expression is essential.

As learners we all differ in our engagement and motivation Some learners are highly engaged by spontaneity and novelty while others are disengaged, even frightened, by those aspects, preferring strict routine. Some learners might like to work alone, while others prefer to work with their peers. Providing multiple options for engagement is essential.

The solution according to Dr Novak is simple: adapt your teaching to cater for these differences in three ways:

  1. Present information and content in different ways
  2. Stimulate interest and motivation for learning
  3. Differentiate the ways that students can express what they know

Dr Novak's slides from ulearn14 are here:

So - that's the orange. The mango?

Well, this all plays into our desire in the English Department at Woodford House to be much more flexible with programmes and approaches in 2015. See what I did there?

The only fly in the ointment, joker in the pack, gnawing voice in the back of my head is John Hattie and his meta-analysis regarding the effect size of inquiry based teaching as a strategy (in his book Visible learning for teachers). Inquiry based teaching intersects with UDL from what I can see.

That dilly of a pickle is explored in one of my next posts.

1 comment:

Amy said...

I completely agree that Ms Novak's 3 methods are valuable, even essential components of student success. I'm still not sure how they are necessarily incongruous with John Hattie. None of Novak's ideas explicitly involve inquiry based learning. I would argue that in many ways Novak's 3 suggestions are already largely at play in our English curriculum. Do we really need a dramatic change to individualised, student driven and directed learning to feel like we are employing them? I'm not convinced that's what she means, and Hattie's research seems to suggest that taking a student driven approach won't be profitable...