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, XMind, Popplet
- Flow charts, graphs, time lines
- Using color to highlight
- important information, characters, symbols
- transition words/ sentences
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.