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Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age: Universal Design for Learning

Book Review
Every child learns at a different pace. Teachers need to have an understanding of
the different capabilities that each of their students possess. With many different areas to
reach success for their students, teachers need to follow certain expectations for
themselves in order to convey their lessons. To make matters even more advanced in
todays teaching, technology has increased in learning and teaching. Teaching Every
Student in the Digital Age: Universal Design for Learning by David H. Rose and Anne
Meyer explores how different techniques through universal design for learning and its
three major networks benefits both students and teachers with the use of technology.
Universal design for learning is the intersection where all our initiatives
integrated units, multi-sensory teaching, multiple intelligences, differentiated instruction,
use of computers in schools, performance-based assessment, and others come together
(Rose & Meyer, 7). In essence, universal design for learning brings every component
that is involved in a lesson as a whole. There is not a section, an idea, or a chart that is
left behind. This is to benefit teaching as a whole and not in small increments. Universal
design for learning is used for differentiated instruction, wherein teachers individualize
criteria for student success, teaching methods, and means of student expression, while
monitoring student progress through ongoing, embedded assessment (Rose & Meyer, 7).
Having a more individualized aspect to each student enhances his or her learning
experiences while allowing the teacher to evaluate their individual progress in a certain
subject or at a specific level in that subject. Universal design for learning provides a
way to make various approaches to educational change more feasible by incorporating
new insights on learning and new applications of technology (Rose & Meyer, 8).

Within the universal design for learning, there are three major networks that play
huge roles in this area of teaching. These are recognition networks, strategic networks,
and affective networks. Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist, discovered these three
networks (Rose & Meyer, 12). The three networks have two common characteristics that
impact learning in a significant way. The first characteristic is when processing is
distributed laterally across many brain regions operating in parallel (Rose & Meyer, 13).
The second characteristic is when processing is hierarchical, enabling simultaneous
processing of sensory information entering low in the hierarchy and contextual influences
entering high in the hierarchy (Rose & Meyer, 13). All three networks are involved
in learning any task, curricular teaching goals and methods tend to cluster into broad
types that coincide with each network (Rose & Meyer, 19). No matter what area of
teaching, recognition, strategic, and affective networks should all be integrated while
planning a lesson. Each of these networks works simultaneously without our knowledge
of it happening.
Recognition networks are specialized to sense and assign meaning to patterns we
see; they enable us to identify and understand information, ideas, and concepts (Rose &
Meyer, 12). Having the ability to distinguish certain aspects of a subject without too
much guidance is an important tool in regards for learning. In the brain, the general task
of recognition is distributed across different areas, each specialized to handle a different
component of recognition (Rose & Meyer, 15). The use of recognition is quick and
efficient because all the modules are working in parallel. Through parallel processing
the simultaneous performance of multiple tasks by interconnected modules - our brains

process and pool information that is distributed throughout our recognition networks
(Rose & Meyer, 15).
Strategic networks are specialized to generate and oversee mental and motor
patterns. They enable us to plan, execute, and monitor actions and skills (Rose &
Meyer, 12). Using strategy is involved in practically all aspects of life. People use
strategy to complete a task, complete problems, and develop skill sets as well as many
other areas. The strategic network has a multistep process. This process contains actions
to identify a goal, design a suitable plan, execute the plan, self-monitor, [and] correct or
adjust actions (Rose & Meyer, 22). The strategic networks operate on acting over
certain tasks and where to continue on with that task.
Affective networks are specialized to evaluate patterns and assign them
emotional significance; they enable us to engage with tasks and learning and with the
world around us (Rose & Meyer, 13). Having a personal connection to learning or
anything in general puts affective networks into play and allows a deeper understanding
for an individual. We use different parts of our affective networks to recognize emotion
and to express emotion They process different kinds of emotional information
simultaneously and communicate closely through myriad interconnections to create a
whole affective impression (Rose & Meyer, 32). Having an affective network
incorporated into a lesson allows students to stay engaged and instill interest for longer
periods of time.
These networks work within a variety of areas that can enhance a students
learning abilities. For example, speech, goals, digital media, and other tools use the three
networks to contribute a better-rounded outcome for every student. Often, those with

disabilities or learning differences tend to obtain a more technological advance then those
who do not fall in the same category. By combining traditional tools, multimedia, and
networked resources, teachers can provide every student with customized models,
expressive options, supports, and feedback (Rose & Meyer, 124). With the use of these
tools, each child can benefit to their highest ability at an educational viewpoint.
Overall, the universal design for learning is a helpful tool to organize teachers to
benefit individualized learning while teaching the class as a whole. Without universal
design, teachers become one-dimensional. Students then fall behind and have difficulty
catching up to the levels they need to be at in order to progress through school. Using
different forms of technology, with a combination of paper and pencil, allow students to
create an educational atmosphere that enhance them on an individual level. With the
support from teachers and administration, the universal design of learning, along with its
three major networks, recognition, strategic, and affective, improve learning and achieve
higher goals for students, teachers, and the school as a whole.

Rose, David H., and Anne Meyer. Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age:
Universal Design for Learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and
Curriculum Development, 2002. Print.