A professor lectures at the front of a higher education classroom.

Don’t Put Technology Before Effective Pedagogy

Author: Ling Zhang

Are you still overwhelmed by millions of educational technologies out there that are claimed to have the potential to transform teaching and learning? Technology has changed the way we teach and learn over the last few decades, especially during school closures due to the coronavirus. Almost two years into the pandemic, educators and learners may still face challenges of adjusting to the changing education landscape. For sure, technology can help overcome challenges if used appropriately and effectively. Technology can also become a barrier, for example, when it’s not accessible to individuals with disabilities. No matter what technology you are excited about and think about integrating into your practices, don’t put it before effective pedagogies.

Harness Emerging Opportunities?

It is true that never before has technology attracted more attention from almost all educators for its role in supporting instruction and learning. Meanwhile, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, Economic Security Act (CARES Act) of 2020 and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 provide an unprecedented investment in the U.S. K-12 and higher education. These unprecedented opportunities will potentially lead to increased technology purchases across schools. This may help address the emerging and ongoing challenges of inadequate technological infrastructure supporting digital learning for students with and without disabilities in school buildings and higher education institutions. More importantly, this can serve as an accelerator to integrate technology into instructional practices that facilitate student learning moving forward. To achieve the goal, there is a need to better prepare educators for teaching in technology-rich environments.

What Support Is Needed?

Supporting educators in using technology to implement effective and innovative pedagogies is a good start. Universal Design for Learning (UDL), as a research-based instructional design framework, can guide educators through designing flexible learning experiences that support learner variability. In a recent blog, we looked at multiple examples of implementing UDL in higher education. In CIDDL Research and Practice Brief 6, we invited Dr. Kavita Rao to discuss the intersection between UDL and online learning as well as how to use technology to support rural and remote teacher education. The message sent is that UDL can provide a means for multiple stakeholders, such as policymakers, educators, families, educational technology designers, and researchers, to collaborate on designing inclusive, engaging, and personalized learning for all.

Upcoming CIDDL Webinar on Universal Design for Learning

As a national center striving to promote innovative use of educational technology and innovations that enhance learning for all learners with and without disabilities, CIDDL will launch a series of UDL webinars starting October 2021. We hope to provide a channel for multiple stakeholders to have conversations around different ways to support faculty from teacher and personnel preparation programs in understanding how UDL is positioned in practice, research, and policy. Additionally, this series of webinars provide guidance, suggestions, and resources on how to implement UDL to support learner variability in K-12 and higher education settings.

The kick-off webinar is scheduled for October 27th, 2021 at 1 pm CST. A panel of UDL experts will discuss how UDL can be used to appropriately design and plan effective personnel preparation experiences. Online registration is open now. Join us in the conversation.  Visit our website for more resources and sign up for the updates from CIDDL.