Multimedia for Learner Variability

"The capacity to use multiple media leads to a more diversified, flexible palette for communication—a palette that takes advantage of the varied strengths and weaknesses of each medium and enables teachers to select the medium best suited to a particular student and learning task." 

(Meyer & Rose, 2005, p.5)

What does this mean:

UDL principles tell us that learning materials should be universally accessible to all; meaning that they should be delivered to allow students to access them using at least one of their senses: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. In practical terms, this means that verbal delivery of course content should be accompanied by notes on a PowerPoint, videos, pictures, or hands-on work to foster optimal learner access and engagement.

Why is this important:

Today’s post-secondary students come from different backgrounds, with different skills, abilities and disabilities. Course material presented in a single way will not allow for universal access. For example, a blind student will not be able to see what is written on a handout given in class, nor would a hearing impaired student be able to access information if there are no visual aids. Aside from disability, each student has their own learning preferences; some students learn best by visualizing the information, whereas others learn best when they hear it. Due to a high level of variability in accessing information, it is important for course material to be presented in different formats.

How is this achieved:

UDL guidelines highlight that it is important to have the same information presented in different modalities in order to address learner variability.

For the auditory learner:

  • Using descriptive videos for visually impaired students
  • Written documents (PowerPoints/ handouts/ journal articles) should be provided to students in an accessible format (not PDF) to be used with text to speech programs
  • All graphs/ flow-charts/ mind-maps should be explained verbally

For the visual learner:

  • Visual representation of the lecture:
  • Main information is presented in PowerPoint slides; students can add to the notes from the power points while listening to the lecture
  • Printed material should be readable with respect to size and font
  • Instructional videos
  • Visual way to search information in Google (Search Cube)
  • Visual representation of concepts and main ideas
  • Mind-mapping, e.g., MindMeister, XMindPopplet
  • Flow charts, graphs, time lines
  • Using color to highlight
    • important information, characters, symbols
    • transition words/ sentences
    • relationships

For the kinesthetic learner:

  • Use of interactive apps
  • Use interactive models and/or manipulatives, when possible
  • Use a Smart board, when available 

See practical examples of UDL implementation: UDL In Action.