After reading this week’s material on Universal Design for Learning, the business course in the school I worked for occurred to me. This vocational training course was designed for new immigrants who would like to start a business in Canada. It was with a diverse class – students were from 6 countries with different religions, and it had a wide age range from 20 to 55.

There were 25 students in the class. Most students had a high school graduate diploma from their country, and some of them spoken just French and little English while some had little understanding of both languages.

The teacher, who could communicate in both French and English, faced several challenges. Although the lecture was given in English, she had to give instructions in the two languages sometimes. When teaching how to use Excel to create financial sheets, some students could not follow up because they had trouble using the computers. Moreover, they could not finish the assignments since they did not have access to a computer at home. To solve the issue, the school had another lab open available for this class in order to make sure all the students could use the computer and finish the task before the due date. Obviously, it was hard for the teacher to use one teaching method for this class.

One component from the UDL guidelines to improve learning:

I think the biggest challenge is to manage different students’ learning processes at the same time. For example, some students (fast-learners) might get bored when the teacher was re-teaching or repeat the content for other students (slow-learners).

In terms of the UDL guidelines, the teacher should provide multiple ways of representation – several learning options for students. It could be an additional instructional video prepared for the students who were ready to go further. Some technique glossary could be pre-teached before the class date (languages and symbols) to solve the language problems in class. Finally, using a variety of relevant analogies and metaphors could also help students comprehend the concept even if they had difficulty understanding the key terms (comprehension).

Do you have other suggestions from the UDL guidelines for the situation?