Universal Learning Environments
Creating Universally Accessible Classrooms
While schools in Rocky View have walls to keep out the elements, we strive to reduce the invisible walls that can act as barriers to learning.
At RVS, we’ve coined a new term to describe this learning community—a Universal Learning Environment (ULE). A Universal Learning Environment brings the world of knowledge into the classroom, but it removes barriers in other important ways.
First, each learning experience is designed to be accessible to all learners. In the same way architects design buildings to be accessible to people of all physical abilities, teachers design learning experiences for students of all abilities and at all stages on their learning journey.
A student who currently has weak reading skills, for example, may use simple technology to speak questions to the computer and have the results of web searches read aloud. A student with a hearing deficit may be working on the same project with the support of a sign language interpreter, while a third student still mastering the English language may be using a blend of approaches: reading herself, getting support from the teacher, and using technologies to support her learning while she practices her new language skills.
The final barrier removed in a Universal Learning Environment is the barrier between the school and the community. The school serves as a hub to coordinate wrap-around services for students with complex health and learning needs, ensuring there is a coordinated plan and information flow between home, health professionals, social supports, and the school.
And the community itself serves as a part of the Universal Learning Environment. Hands-on experiential learning for students may involve learning about the sophisticated computerized motor mechanics at a local shop through an educational partnership. These types of partnerships could as easily involve an artist’s studio, a farming operation, or a local manufacturing plant.