Real-world resources for UDL implementation in adult education

Last school year, I was invited to collaborate on a project with a team of teachers and pedagogical consultants at Place Cartier Adult Education Centre, part of Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB). The presenters teach across a range of programs at Place Cartier, including general education, alternative education, and special education. The goal of the Place Cartier project is to demonstrate how Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is used at Place Cartier to support adolescent and adult learners. The Place Cartier team also presented their project at the QPAT 2018 conference.

Pictured above: Matthew Kennedy, Natasha Bellows, Carmen Bodmer-Roy, Julian Verboomen with Myriam Rabbat and Gail Gagnon presenting the Place Cartier UDL project to a full room at the QPAT 2018 conference in Montreal, Quebec. Tweet courtesy of Tracy Rosen (@tracyrosen)

In a previous blog post, I wrote an article about “Why Flexible Learning Spaces and UDL matter” and highlighted the idea that if students are provided with the flexibility to choose how and where they learn best, then they are more likely to be engaged and take ownership. It’s also equally important to trust our students in order to allow the learning to happen. It was really amazing to see and experience this in action at the Place Cartier QPAT 2018 session.

Pictured above: This was not a sit-and-get presentation. The presenters modelled the use of “poster stations” to provide choice around online and offline resources + promote individualized participant discussions at the QPAT 2018 conference in Montreal, Quebec:

UDL is not just a fancy acronym or nebulous philosophy. UDL is a framework with specific guidelines that continue to evolve through a nonprofit organization named CAST. Here is the definition of UDL from the CAST website:

“Universal design for learning (UDL) is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and
learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn.”

While UDL may sound like it’s a universal way to teach students, it’s actually about designing instruction to meet the individual needs of each student.

So what does UDL implementation look like in adult education? To help address this question, the Place Cartier team created a Google Site (http://bit.ly/PlaceCartierUDL) to support their project and QPAT 2018 session. Their Google Site provides strategies and in-class examples of how the different principles of UDL are leveraged in four different contexts:

  • Multiple Means of Engagement within a Flexible Learning Space
  • Multiple Means of Representation with Multimedia Texts
  • Multiple Means of Action and Expression through Project-Based Social Integration Programming
  • The Delta Alternative Program: The Why, the What, and the How of Learning in Adult Education

Supporting Diverse Adolescent & Adult Learners through the Principles of UDL

In order to create a real-world connection to the theory, each team member was filmed as they worked with their students. We created 21 short “bite-sized” 1-2 minute videos that can be viewed via the following YouTube playlist (see image below) or through the Google Site.

Cartier UDL YouTube Playlist

I’d highly encourage you to explore the Google Site and associated videos in order to see how the Place Cartier team has integrated UDL in how they teach.. and how their students learn! I genuinely loved being part of this project and extend a sincere thanks for including me. If you are an FGA teacher, consultant or administrator looking to incorporate UDL principles into your classroom or centre, please reach out. Tracy Rosen and I would love to make more connections!

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