Dr. James Basham’s 2018 Summit Reflections

Image shows 2018 Summit attendees listening to Dr. James Basham.

The 5th Annual UDL-IRN International Summit was the largest gathering of UDL focused people to date! It was amazing to see education leaders, educators, researchers, higher education faculty, and other industry professionals come together with a focus on designing a more learner-centered education system. I was personally inspired to watch, listen, talk, and actively engage with people who wake-up every morning to do their part in supporting design of these future focused learning environments. From the educator on the ground to the architect who designs the space, it was incredible to hear how everyone is working together with a focus on all learners.

As an emerging field, continued growth is critical to modernizing the practice of education throughout the globe. Growth takes more than dissatisfaction with current practices; it requires a vision as well as practices and tools for supporting the desired change.  This year’s summit provided an opportunity to see and according to some attendees “feel” the future! The summit also provided attendees with opportunities to have hands-on understanding of practices and tools that can be used to support UDL implementation. Throughout the summit I was able to attend sessions that highlighted how to get started, considerations for developing your UDL plan, managing UDL practice, and sessions that provided a host of practices as well as tools for implementing UDL in PK-12 and higher education.

It was awe-inspiring to hear educators, education leaders, and researchers discuss and demonstrate how UDL has transformed various learning environments! It was also wonderful to see how UDL is transforming school design, supporting new thinking about the future, how it is supporting national television programming with groups such as PBS, and how it is shaping the design of educational software systems. One large announcement at the Summit was the upcoming release of Learning Designed. While this field-changing platform will be discussed in future weekly updates, it is exciting to see various individuals and UDL organizations from across the globe contribute time, energy, and resources to this initiative. Of course more information will be available soon, but you are encouraged to visit the site now!

The growth of the field and Summit has us thinking about Summit 2019. In the idea of modeling UDL in a professional gathering, we want to focus on continuous improvement of our own design. Next year, we are already discussing design solutions that enable people to have more personalized professional learning experiences around UDL. Sure, you can choose your own sessions, but can it be more personalized? Some people simply want to feel the vision, whereas others want deep dives on implementing UDL practices in pre-K, K-12, or higher education settings; whereas others want to focus solely on research, and others simply want to sit in comfortable environment and reflect with a professional learning coach. Basically, as the field grows and changes, designs for professional growth, networking, and understanding must also change. There is a need to grow the field, while at the same time feed the current field so everyone stays engaged! Finally, we have to also take time to tend to the culture of the growing field to ensure it is representative of human diversity. As a transformative framework, UDL is about all learners and this should be reflected throughout the field.

If you want to learn about the plans for 2019, simply want to engage more in UDL, or want to dedicate volunteer time to the UDL-IRN, let us know! Respond to this email with your questions and comments!

-Dr. James Basham

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