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Bolstering Competency Based Education with Principles of UDL

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Competency Based Education involves “Transitioning away from seat time, in favor of a structure that creates flexibility, allows students to progress as they demonstrate mastery of academic content, regardless of time, place, or pace of learning.” Learner engagement is improved by learners finding relevance in tailored content, and outcomes are cemented more firmly because the learner has been given ample time to digest, process, and internalize the learning content. In several ways, Competency Based Education and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can work hand-in-hand to provide learners an optimal learning experience.

Competency Based Education provides flexibility through:

Self-Paced Learning

In course design, this can be supported by:

● providing a Table of Contents in the course player

● eliminating time-driven limitations on lesson page or interactive participation

● injecting interactives such as Annotated Video which allow for reflection points within time-driven media or Hot Spots which encourage visual exploration of learning concepts

● the inclusion of settings to allow learners to reset activities or retake assessments

Relevant UDL Principle: Multiple Means of Engagement (The “WHY” of learning). Create a learning experience that engages and motivates without forcing into a prescribed method of learning, while offering variable controls for content interaction and navigation. Optimize individual choice and autonomy, while creating opportunities for self-assessment and reflection.

Varied Modality of Learning Material

In course design, this can be supported by:

● Inclusion of mixed media representations of learning content.

● Re-representing the core learning material in ways that cater to Visual, Auditory, Read/Write, and even Kinesthetic learning styles

● Contextual linking of these varied modes of learning

Relevant UDL Principle: Multiple Means of Representation (The “WHAT” of learning).

Offer alternatives for written, auditory, or visual information. Illustrate through multiple forms of media. Activate prior knowledge through choice of representation. Simply put, no single form of media — whether it be pen and paper or digital — is sufficient enough to address the unique needs of all learners. Something as seemingly benign as a graphic or a passage of text or a video could present unnecessary challenges to a particular learner and limit, or even preclude, their success.

Demonstration of Higher Order Thinking

In course design, this can be supported by:

● Including alternatives to standard T/F, Multiple Choice, Multiple Select, including open-ended Short Answer, Matching, Labeling, Categorization, allowing learners to demonstrate varying expressions of understanding.

● Providing opportunities for formative and summative assessment, allowing learners to demonstrate understanding of discrete concepts as well as overarching concepts.

Relevant UDL Principle: Multiple Means of Action & Expression (The “HOW” of learning).

Vary the methods for response and navigation. Use multiple tools for construction and composition. Build fluencies with graduated levels of support for practice and performance. No two students are exactly alike in regards to their strengths, preferences, and competencies, and so providing them with multiple means by which to express their mastery of the subject matter completes the learner’s initial journey through UDL.

RELATED ARTICLE: Personalize Competency-Based Education with Microcredentials

If you’d like to learn more about how you can apply UDL principles to your content through the use of flexible and intuitive digital authoring tools or would benefit from some instructional design consultation, reach out to us at knowbly … we’re always happy to help!