The purpose of my blog has always been to write about free educational resources that are available on the internet. Exceptional new resources are proliferating at what seems an exponential rate, and I keep discovering other great programs and websites that have been around for a long time. So, how and why do I choose the resources that I highlight here?
I think I’ve come up with a guiding principle, if not a definitive answer. More and more, my thinking is shaped by the priority of both universal design for learning (UDL) and universal access. Ive come to equate good “classroom” practice with UDL, the approach to education that consciously attempts to respond to the learning needs of ALL learners. Universal access is one essential key to UDL.
Ira Socol offers a compelling voice in support of UDL on his blog SpeEd Change. In March, Ira wrote a post entitled “A Toolbelt for a Lifetime: Learning How to Learn Assistive Technology“. Ira summarizes his “Toolbelt Theory” as follows:
“Toolbelt Theory is based on the concept that students must learn to assemble their own readily available collection of life solutions. They must learn to choose and use these solutions appropriately, based in the task to be performed, the environment in which they find themselves, their skills and capabilities at that time, and the ever-changing universe of high and low-tech solutions and supports.”
This “theory” is helpful for me as I think about how to focus my blog posts. As I move forward, I’ll attempt to highlight free resources for “toolbelts”. I want to include tools that provide access to learning–not only access to information, but also varied options that learners can use to represent their learning and express their creativity. I also want to discuss tools and websites that teachers can include in their toolbelts in order to present and share material in an engaging manner. I want to help learners and teachers in choosing tools that will be effective for them.
On Friday of this week, Ira Socol was interviewed by Melinda Pongrey at LD Live. In the interview, Ira discusses not only his toolbelt theory, but a great deal more that I believe should be of considerable interest to anyone involved in any aspect of education. For your convenience, I’ve embedded a player with the interview below.