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Design Thinking and UDL: Connecting the Dots

Listen and learn

Listen and learn : Panel

Monday, June 24, 8:30–9:30 am
Location: 120A

Amanda L. Armstrong   Sean Arnold   Rhianon Gutierrez   Mindy Johnson   Dr. Luis Perez  
This panel will explore the intersections of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and design thinking. Presenters will include a designer of educational games for children, as well as ILN members who will share how design thinking and UDL inform the inclusive design of their lessons and activities.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Professional developers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Universal design for learning/differentiated learning
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: Special education
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Innovative Designer
  • Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
Knowledge Constructor
  • Students curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.
For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
Additional detail: ISTE author presentation

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Participants with be able to describe key principles of Universal Design for Learning - providing multiple means of engagement (the "why" of learning), representation (the "what" of learning), and action and expression (the "how" of learning).
Participants will be able to describe the steps of the design thinking process: empathize (through a series of hands-on activities that allow them to experience technology from the perspectives of learners with different abilities and needs), define, ideate, prototype and test.
Participants will be able to explain at least one way in which UDL and design thinking support the creation of flexible curricula, including the iterative development of learner-centered goals, methods, materials and assessments.
Participants with apply Universal Design for Learning strategies and accessibility best practices to promote inclusion in the design thinking process for all learners by providing multiple options for how learners engage in activities, acquire information, and representing their emerging understandings and solutions to design challenges.


I-Summary or Preview (Trailer) of the Inclusive Learning Playground
II-Background on UDL and Design Thinking (defining our terms)
III-Design Thinking and UDL - a game designer's perspective
IV-Presentations from ILN members on how they have implemented design thinking alongside UDL-based approaches to make the design thinking accessible to all.
V-Opportunity for participants to participate in a short design thinking activity (possibly a resource under development)

Supporting research

Meyer, A., Rose, D.H., & Gordon, D. (2014) Universal design for learning: Theory and practice, Wakefield MA: CAST

Dam, R., and Siang, T. 5 stages in the design thinking process. Interaction Design Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/5-stages-in-the-design-thinking-process.

More [+]


Amanda L. Armstrong, New Mexico State Uni - Media Productions
Sean Arnold, NYC Dept. of Education

Sean is a special education teacher and STEM coach in New York City’s District 75, citywide special education and is committed to reaching ALL STUDENTS through innovative technology and practices. He has won the ISTE Outstanding Teacher Honorable Mention, the ISTE Inclusive Learning Network Outstanding Educator Award, the NYCDOE Excellence in School Technology Award, and the EDxEDNYC Excellence in Technology Award. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator, Google Innovator, and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, along with many EdTech certifications. You can learn more about his efforts at BraveInTheAttempt.com.

Rhianon Gutierrez, Boston Public Schools
Dr. Luis Perez, National AEM Center, CAST

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