My newest speaking program on disabilities covers universal design. With that existing, a trend in my bookings this fall is colleges and universities asking me to incorporate my content on universal design with my flagship awareness program, as an extended faculty and staff training. It has challenged me to build a custom, solid program that has original ideas, innovation, and genuine value. I’m thankful for my own background in education, and I’m having a ton of fun with this.
While this article stems from my teachings to educators, these concepts can be expansively applied for the workplace, for parenting, or for just general interaction with others, including yourself. So, bring yourself to these ideas and take what you may.
I want to refer briefly to learning styles, and for lay people, there are several theories on this, several ways that educational masterminds label and list how we prefer to learn. I’m most familiar with a list of seven, which includes styles like auditory (listening), visual (preference for pictures and diagrams), and kinesthetic (utilizing physical movement). Everyone has their strength or strengths and weakness or weaknesses. For a teacher, when you can present new information in ways to accommodate all possible learning styles, you’re nailing it. It can be very difficult, though.
Next, what the heck is universal design? Well, here’s my slide on that:
Universal Design in Learning (UDL) is a concept developed by Harvard about 30 years ago and includes three key pillars:
- Multiple means of representation/presentation
- Multiple means of action & expression
- Multiple means of engagement/motivation
The first two are covered pretty well by accommodating different learning styles. Add in consideration of other differences (e.g. sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, age, etc.) in academic content. The third is a little different.
You can do a Google search on motivation styles and find all kinds of articles, charts, and videos about how to motivate people. I skipped that rabbit hole (bad memories of those “personality quizzes” I had to do in the corporate life) and brainstormed my own, considering my background as a teacher, my knowledge of disability, and just my experience as a human.
This list probably will evolve, as my program tends to do (which I love, actually), but here’s what I came up with for the different things students might care about, different paths to motivation. If you can show why your content is valuable in all these categories, for the course, for each unit, for each day, even each assignment, I think you’ve nailed it.
- Competitive GPA
- Necessary for career
- Personal empowerment
- Self-esteem boost of overcoming a challenge
- Tool for philanthropy
If you’re not a teacher, maybe you’re a student? You can look at what you’re about to learn and do this for yourself. What’s your motivation style, and how will the course satisfy that?
If you’re a parent, see what your child’s favorite motivation style is.
And for anyone trying to be “motivated,” don’t ask yourself, “Why should I do this?” Ask yourself, “What motivates me?” then, “How can I apply that to this situation?”