UDL and Apps in the Classroom
Life just keeps getting better for teachers looking to make accommodations in their classrooms! The use of ‘traditional’ assistive technologies involving specialized programs or devices continues to give way to mainstream commercial technologies, making classroom modifications easier and easier. Although the advent of the iPad rocked districts (and teachers in general!) across the country for the first few years, even our least tech savvy educators have since learned to master navigation of a tablet. Note: I say ‘navigate’ rather than use because many of the teachers I meet continue to struggle with how to effectively use the device within the curriculum to support Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Device navigation does not equate integration!
The quest to find appropriate educational apps can be daunting and many are unsure how or where to proceed, leaning on random lists and recommendations of others. Since the device is only as effective as the apps installed on it, choosing the right mix is the key to success! While I continually add my favorites under the toolbar on my homepage, I have found a terrific resource that every teacher should have! UDL Playground, one of my favorite education wikispaces, has created a Placemat of Core Apps designed to support UDL integration with the iPad.
To truly use an iPad as an effective teaching and learning tool, I recommend a range of apps for specific purposes, chosen by their function. I advise teachers to install a mix of apps from three categories: EDUCATION APPS are designed to provide interactive learning of specific educational concepts and these are often the only apps teachers know to search for. But, to truly modify the devices to meet the needs of all students, you’ll need more. PRODUCTIVITY APPS and UTILITY APPS are the real tools we need for providing digital text, annotating and editing documents, organizing our thoughts, creating schedules, facilitating communication, offering specific accessibility features, etc.
The Placemat of Core Apps provides three well organized lists of apps for use with students, arranged according to multi-modal tasks: representation of information, engagement and expression. You may download as a pdf to share, yet clicking on the App icons offers a brief description of the function and how you could use this with your students. Adapting the classroom just keeps getting easier!