IT & Higher Ed: transitional friction with UDL

Schedule info

Time slot: 

Wednesday 1 October 11:30 am - 12:00 pm


Meeting Room 9


  • Redefining Education


Universal Design for Learning has gained momentum in post-secondary education over the past decade in North America as a framework for the management of Disability issues (Gradel & Edson, 2010). It is increasingly attractive as it aligns service provision with the social model and shifts the discourse away from diagnosis (Rose, Harbour, Johnston, Daley & Abarbanell, 2006). It is also conducive to an inclusive educational setting (Howard, 2004).
UDL however requires the adoption and integration of technology into curriculum development, class delivery and evaluation (Rose, Meyer & Hitchcock, 2005). This is not always as smooth a process with instructors as the literature lets us anticipate (Harrison, 2006). This paper seeks to examine the nature of the friction which occurs during the implementation of UDL, more specifically as it relates to mastery and use of educational technology (Becking, 2011). The literature on the various and progressive levels of instructor competency is abundant (Zhao & Cziko, 2001; Basinger, 2000); however the phenomenon is not as exhaustively studied in the postsecondary environment (Wan, 2009). This study is unique in the sense that it examines IT integration into curriculum and evaluation under the lens of the Human Rights imperative for inclusion, which moves the discourse from simply best practices to the realm of policy and urgent pragmatic implementation.
The campus examined in this paper began dynamic UDL implementation in summer 2011. This effort has been recorded and examined from a variety of angles ranging from student reactions to instructor feedback, without forgetting administrative and more systemic issues. The paper carries out the analysis of qualitative data collected from instructors in this two year drive to see implementation translate to a metamorphosis of classroom practices. Previous exploration has allowed the author to distinguish a spectrum of variables which are likely to impact this process and eventually lead to either enthusiastic adoption or rejection of the model by teachers (Fovet, 2013). One of these variables is the instructor’s mastery and competency with technological tools.
The analysis indicates with a good degree of precision what aspects of technological use act as a motivator or a stressor for post-secondary instructors. It distinguishes factors that are personal (such as familiarity with technology, support with integration, time and resources available), as well as factors that more systemic such as departmental leadership, focus on student centeredness and institutional valorization of pedagogical growth). The factors which emerge from the analysis are detailed enough to have the appeal of immediate transferability to other contexts and other campuses. They provide a concise and user-friendly road map for the analysis of resistance encountered on any post-secondary campus with regards to the use of technology to craft pedagogy that meets the needs of a diverse student body.
The outcome section discusses the wider implications of the findings with regards to student retention, integration of diversity in higher education and social justice (Bowe, 2000; Howard, 2004). The impact of the findings on strategic planning for professional development of instructors is also examined, in its systemic complexity (Buckenmeyer, 2008; Chen, 2008).

Session Info


  • Refereed Paper


  • Secondary School
  • Tertiary Level
  • Special Needs


  • Universal Design for learning
  • student retention
  • differentiated teaching
  • inclusion
  • IT