Friday, April 4, 2008

Universal Design for Learning

I shot a long day yesterday. It was a conference with a name almost as long as the shooting day: Universal Design for Learning: Tipping Points from Research to Practice. It was fascinating material, very much inside a specialized niche, but related to so many other cultural movements. And just the fact of shooting a long day – though tiring and hard work – is rewarding. And that's more to the "Universal" aspects of this: how the niche defines the norm.

Much of my work is back here in my office. Long term projects, long presented and crafted. And it feels good to get out into the field – really another foreign field – and get rewarded (aka PAID) for doing that. And that's how work can be rewarding and fulfilling.

The content of much of the conference was about how the classroom will be, increasingly, a place where universal design elements will serve all children, including those with "disabilities." Some of the most exciting moments – speaking, of course, subjectively – were when web based technology enable all students to access content. Linked together it can become social networking. As we – with our climate change project, and our continued outreach towards individuals with disabilities and their supporters – move towards a way to link interests, we are part of the niche becoming universal. The niche becomes more universal (or it can become so) as it becomes more accurate in its reflection of the human needs and aspiration of the niche.