Remote/Digital Learning · Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Engagement in Virtual Education

After an unplanned, two-year hiatus, I’m starting to make my way back to thinking about the larger educational community and about implementing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) again. I used professional development funds from my district to take a self-directed course from Novak Education. The course, with videos featuring Dr. Novak’s father, focuses on UDL for Remote Learning, the closest topic to teaching in a virtual school, like my current school, GCVS.

Although I explored many resources in the course, the one that I marked up like crazy was “Distance learning: 6 UDL best practices for online learning” at  I sort of wanted to highlight the ENTIRE article, but I limited myself.

First, I loved the quote “Explicitly teach expectations and engagement.  Video and distance learning is a totally different medium of teaching and learning. Both you and your students may need time and support to learn how to learn and engage effectively in this space.”  

In my current “location” as a virtual teacher, I see how insanely difficult it is to get students ‘up to speed’ as they join us at different times in the school year.  Yes, it’s hard in brick-and-mortar, but multiply that many times over for the transition to virtual education!  Take, for example, providing students with a calculator.  Easy enough to supply in brick-and-mortar….in virtual education, that same calculator requires opening a new tab and searching for an online version.  Or maybe finding one on your desk and hoping you have enough space for computer and calculator.  Or disappearing off-screen for the rest of class looking for one. There are layers of difference like this that make the online educational experience more challenging.

As in any public school, students join GCVS throughout the school year. Yes, we provide onboarding for students and Learning Coaches, but much of the onboarding doesn’t make sense until a student is attempting to engage in the virtual class. I appreciated the ideas in the article that gave me new perspectives on my current job.

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