This page last changed on Apr 10, 2007 by rtinker.

Implications of Classroom Realities for UDL

The curriculum design and technology will be strongly influenced by how many computers are available. Below are some possiblities and their implications.

Possible Implementations

Let's assume that we have a single unit designed for two weeks of science, that involves 4 hours of classroom time. That is eight periods of 30 minutes or five periods of 48 minutes or..... In order to buy more time, we have ADDITIONAL off-computer material that would include science experiments, math, reading, and writing, sufficient for 12 hours additional of class time.
Let's examine some of the ways this might be implemented in classrooms with different numbers of computers and different needs for 1:1 access to those computers. Assume 32 kids per classroom. Assume further, that there is ONE more computer for the teacher--the numbers of computers listed are just for students.

32 computers

Ideal. 1:1 is possible anytime, but groups can be assigned for tasks for which we think group work would be better education. A unit would require four hours of class time and no non-science activities would have to be scheduled at the same time. If a teacher elected to spend additional class time on the unit and include "off computer" materials, these materials could be on-computer, making it possible to track student progress on this material as well, and to include their artifacts into individual and group portfolios.

16 computers, 1:1 on computer, only science

Let's assume that we want most computer activities to be 1:1 so that UDL can be personalized. Then, if we have two parallel activities going on in the classroom, this can be accomplished. However, the teacher would have to be willing to devote eight hours of classroom time to the project, half of which would use off-computer materials.

16 computers, half-groups, only science

In this model, half the time students spend on computer is in three-person groups (8 computers and 24 kids at a time), and half 1:1 (8 computers with 8 kids). In this case, no non-science activities are needed and the unit can be completed in four hours of classroom time. Three-quarters of our content would have to be designed for group work, so the individualized UDL would be used only 1/4 of the time.

*Ten computers, two centers

In our proposal, we said that we could support as few as three students per computer. This could be done by using three computers for groups of three students and seven computers 1:1, thereby supporting 16 student on-computer. The remaining 16 students could be doing off-computer tasks. This is relatively easy to implement, although it would require eight hours of class time. It would give a fair amount of student time in 1:1 settings that support individualized UDL (a bit less than two hours on average per student over the eight required)

8 computers, half-groups

This model requires eight hours of classroom time with half the kids using the computers at any one time and half doing related off-computer materials. Half the computers would be used for groups of three students and half for 1:1. Again, 3/4 of the content would have to be oriented to group work, diluting the UDL experience.

8 computers, 1:1, four centers

The only way to have mostly 1:1 computers with only eight computers would be to devote more time to the unit and take advantage of the math and language arts content. If 16 hours could be spared, then during that time there could be four centers in the classroom each with 8 students. One center would be the UDL Science materials, one could be science experiments, one math, and one reading/writing. A slightly different version might be to have groups of 2-3 kids on two computers, use the other six for 1:1 and set up only two non-computer centers for 11 kids each.


It is always nice to provide an "on ramp" that proivdes support for minimal implementations and gets better and better as the implementations get more faithful. Thus, I think it is necessary that we support work-groups of students and supply a rich set of non-computer activities that could require up to 3x as much time as we expect students to spend on-computer. The poorer implementations will not take much advantage of the UDL features, but that is expected.

This means that the activity structure of the unit should have alternatives at each step. There should be 1:1 activities, but at least 3x as many on-computer activities that are suitable for group work. And there should be 3x again as many off-computer activities.

These discussions raise some issues related to probeware and student assessment. Nice as these both are, we should plan alternative non-probe experiments and non-computer student assessments.

Our classroom testing should include a full range implmentations. It sure would be nice to have one 1:1 site.

Re: 8 computers, 1:1, four centers

Do the schools we're planning to implement in actually have one teacher that teaches to the students all day?  Even when my daughter was in 4th grade she was switching between several teachers during the day for different disciplines so in some schools you wouldn't be able to gain extra time by having non-science activities. 

Posted by pburney at Apr 10, 2007 20:44
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