Glossary of Key Terms

Accessibility: Providing equal opportunity for learners to acquire information, engage in activities and interactions, demonstrate understanding, and enjoy the same services through proactive design approaches. This can also encompass practices of web accessibility, which is the inclusive practice of ensuring there are no barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to, websites on the World Wide Web (as examples, by people with physical disabilities, situational disabilities, and socio-economic restrictions on bandwidth and speed).

Alt text: The HTML attribute (alt=” ”) used in HTML documents to specify alternative text that is to be rendered when the element to which it is applied cannot be rendered. It is used by “screen reader” software so that a person who is listening to the content of a webpage (for instance, a person who is blind) can interact with this element.

Assessment for Learning (Formative assessment): Assessments that provides ongoing and frequent ways to measure student progress towards learning outcomes. They give students multiple opportunities to learn through practice and feedback, so they have sufficient time and support to reflect and improve, and act as an informal (i.e., ungraded) check-in to determine student progress in achieving learning outcomes. Data and feedback allows teachers to adapt their instructional decisions in a responsive and immediate fashion.

Assessment as Learning: Assessments that actively involve students in monitoring and assessing their own learning. They help to develop student’s ability to learn effectively and prepares students to be self-directed, reflective, and engaged learners.

Assessment of Learning (Summative assessment): Assessments that focus on learner performance after instruction has occurred, to allow students to provide evidence demonstrating their level of achievement of the course learning outcomes. Typically such assessments are formal (i.e., graded). Common forms include: student portfolios, projects that have written and/or oral products, midterm and final exams, or performance tasks that demonstrate student achievement of the learning outcomes.

Assessment Plan: A document that outlines and aligns learning outcomes with course assessments and includes descriptions of the assessment methods and tools.

Learning outcome: A statement of what we want students to learn to do. Effective learning outcomes typically include an observable action-based verb, reference the content, and describe the criteria that will be used to evaluate student performance. The criteria describes the level of proficiency learners will need to demonstrate by providing information on things like quality, quantity, or time measurements.

Inclusive: Ensuring access to quality education for all learners by effectively meeting their diverse needs in a way that is responsive, accepting, respectful, and supportive.

HTML: HyperText Markup Language; the standard markup language for content designed to be displayed in a web browser, ensuring that the content displays various effects (such as font, color, graphics, hyperlinks, etc.) in specific desired ways.

Affective neural network: Network of cognition responsible for emotion and affect, located at the medial regions of the brain (e.g., extended limbic system). These networks represent the ‘why’ of learning (i.e., responsible for evaluating the significance or importance of the information being perceived).

Font: A set of text characters in a certain style and size that may be printed or displayed digitally.

Heading: Text that is larger and more distinct than regular paragraph text, used to convey the organization of content.

Hyperlink: Also known as a link, a hyperlink directs users to a different portion of a document or page, or an entirely different document or page, once clicked or tapped by users.

Multiple means of engagement: One of the three principles of UDL, it aims to connect with learners’ interests, supporting self-reflection of learning, fostering collaboration and varying levels of challenge (e.g., open class discussion, question and answer period, applied problem-solving, goal-setting). Also referred to as the “why” of learning.

Multiple means of representation: One of the three principles of UDL, it aims to provide learners with multiple ways to engage and comprehend information and experiences (e.g., video, audio, graphics, symbols, tactile objects). Also referred to as the “what” of learning.

Multiple means of action and expression: One of the three principles of UDL, it aims to provide learners with alternative methods of demonstrating what they comprehend and different ways of managing information (e.g., assignments, multimedia presentations, concept maps). Also referred to as the “how” of learning.

Recognition neural network: Network of cognition situated at the posterior half of the brain’s cortex and can be described as the ‘what’ of learning (i.e., responsible for recognition and perception of information).

Strategic neural network: Network of cognition situated in the anterior regions of the brain’s cortex (e.g., frontal lobes), these networks represent the ‘how’ of learning’ (i.e., responsible for planning, organizing, and execution).

Three principles of UDL: Principles that inform accessible pedagogy and establish a framework for course planning and learning experiences. They are: 1. Multiple means of engagement, 2. Multiple means of representation, 3. Multiple means of action and expression.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL): A framework that guides the design of courses and learning environments to appeal to the largest number of learners.


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Universal Design for Learning: One Small Step by Sara Dzaman; Derek Fenlon; Julie Maier; and Toni Marchione is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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