For topic 4, we were asked to reflect on Online and Blended learning design with an approach that seeks to “encourage learners’ engagement and learning processes” in online and blended learning design.
I would like to reflect a little further on one of the sources included in our reading and one that we have touched upon in our discussions which is called “Universal Learning Design” and see what aspects can be important to consider for an inclusive approach to blended learning design: The aspect considered specifically is our role as teachers to encourage students to acquire self-reflection, self-knowledge, and representation.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines consists of a pedagogical approach to education that aims to provide all students, including those with disabilities, with equal opportunities to learn by making learning accessible and engaging.
UDL aims to create an inclusive learning environment that accommodates diverse learners, and self-insight helps students identify their own learning needs and preferences to fully engage with the learning materials and demonstrate their understanding.
Section 1: self-knowledge and UDL in connection to learning design
One of the key principles of UDL is providing multiple means of representation, which means presenting information in a variety of ways to cater to different learning styles and preferences. Self-insight is an essential component of this principle as it helps students understand how they learn best and what strategies work for them. By understanding their own learning style and preferences, students can select materials and resources that are most suitable for their needs, and engage with the content more effectively. This would particulary be helpful in a blended learning setting, since the variety of media and tools they can use for learning is increased and they need self-insight to be able to communicate their needs for learning with the instructors.
Another principle of UDL is providing multiple means of expression, which means allowing students to demonstrate their learning in various ways. Self-insight can help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and select a mode of expression that best showcases their learning. For example, some students may prefer to demonstrate their understanding through written essays, while others may prefer to give presentations or create visual representations.
Section 2: inclusivity and UDL in connection to AI.
The question that remains here is: how does the new digital environments of learning and teaching have an impact on our understanding of ULD and the principles of self-insight, representation and self-reflection, as important elements for teachers to pedagogically help students navigate themselves and to feel included?
For the inclusion of differently-abled students for instance, can such self-knowledge and reflection be further acquired with the help of new digital and technological tools? Recent research gives hints to this,
- Research points to the “potential of AI for improving outcomes for learners” especially for those “with disabilities” for instance (Brasiel & Lunn 2023): “AI has been used to support children with ASD who have difficulties understanding people’s emotions, with AI-driven apps and robots helping students practice emotion recognition and other social skills.”
Not only the student communities but also instructors can benefit from recognizing and assessing and giving feedback to students who are differently abled:
“AI has informed the development of algorithms that can help those involved in assessment identify disabilities in students, such as ASD, specific learning disabilities (dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). (Brasiel & Lunn 2023)
Such AI driven developments catering to learner communities with disabilities might correspond to Quyand and Pehcheng’s “Paradigm Three” where, they argue, “AI is used to empower learning while learners take agency to learn” rather than AI solely functioning as a representative of knowledge.