Mobile Apps to Achieve a UDL

By Cariss Schmode { Pre - Service Teacher }

Mobile Apps

Mobile Apps are electronic applications that allow students to access learning at anytime, any place, to complete work at any pace.


The core of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) encompasses three key principles:

1. Providing Multiple Means of Representation

2. Providing Multiple Means of Action and Expression

3. Providing Multiple Means of Engagement

These principles work to guide educators to ensure that ALL students are provided access to learning.

1. Providing Multiple Means of Representation: All students differ in ways in which they understand and perceive information that is presented to them and a "one size fits all curriculum" is not suitable to meet all learners' needs. It is therefore essential for educators to provide students with multiple means of representation.

2. Providing Multiple Means of Action and Expression: Students all differ in how they are able to express their knowledge. It is therefore necessary for teachers to provide students with various means and ways in which they can express their learning and growth.

3. Provide Multiple Means of Engagement: Students are diverse in what motivates them and engages them in learning. It is therefore required that a teacher offers different means to engage students whether it be through video, text, auditory or podcast to name a few.

Technology, and specifically mobile apps, are essential in the 21st Century classroom in order to create a UDL classroom environment. This flyer well outline six apps that can be utilized in the classroom as a way in which educators can meet the key principles of the UDL guideline. (2014). CAST: About UDL. Retrieved 30 October 2014, from'

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Multiple Means Of Representation

i. FiftyThree

What is it?

FiftyThree is a set of tools that allows for online collaboration.

As well as allowing users to sketch out their ideas through the use of different mobile tools, FiftyThree also allows students to "Join the Mix." Here students can access various sketches from educators that display multiple forms of different educational concepts.

How can it be used?

FiftyThree can be used as a reference tool by students to review topics and concepts covered in class.

For Example: A Biology 20 class could utilize this tool in order to review various diagrams outlining the parts of a cell, such as this diagram has. These different forms of the same material allow students to choose which representation best suits their learner style.

Mix by FiftyThree / Create Together

ii. Frog Dissection

What is it?

Frog Dissection allows students to dissect a frog, virtually. A detailed list of instructions assists students through the procedure and once they student has finished the work the organs of the frog are exposed to allow for further investigation. This mobile app also explains the different types of frogs, their life cycle, an interactive quiz and a detailed explanation of each organ.

How can it be used?

Frog Dissection can be used as an alternative or supplement to in class frog dissection.

For Example: Frog Dissection can be used in a Biology 20 class to allow students to choose the form of dissection they feel most comfortable with. Students may also use this mobile app after they have completed the real dissection to review procedures, concepts and to take the interactive quiz.

Multiple Means of Action and Expression

i. Tools 4 Students

What is it?

Tools 4 Students allows students (and even educators) to organize their ideas on 25 pre-made organizers. Students are able to email their work to their teacher and these organizers can be easily projected onto interactive whiteboards.

How can it be used?

Tools 4 Students can be used as a tool to allow students to organizer their thoughts and ideas. This allows students a variety of options to express to the teacher their knowledge and understanding of a topic.

For Example: An middle school English class could collaborate in groups by using Tools 4 Students to organize their ideas. Once the class is over the students could email their teacher their completed work for the teacher to review.

Make Graphic Organizers with Tools4Students

ii. Trello

What is it?

Trello is an online application that allows individuals or groups to collaborate and manage projects easily. This web tool allows for users to manage their projects through the creation of checklists and boards, making it easy for user to clearly see what needs to be done on a project and what has already been complete.

How can it be used?

Trello allows for students to manage both individual and group projects. This allows students a unique way to express their group effort over the conventional pencil and paper method.

For example: A Social 30 classroom could use this mobile application to work on a group presentation on World War I. The students would be able to easily communicate through a central device, assign tasks amongst the group and check off items off their personal checklist.

What is Trello?

Multiple Means of Engagement

i. Nearpod

What is it?

Nearpod allows teachers to distribute presentations to multiple devices at one time. The teacher controls the content and presentation from their device while students follow along on their own. This application allows teachers to incorporate in class assignments for students to complete on their devices and submit to the teacher's mobile device, providing the educator with instead feedback.

How can it be used?

Nearpod can be used a means to create an interactive lecture and a higher-level thinking environment. This application engages students into the lecture by allowing them to actively participate.

For Example: A Chemistry 10 class could use this application during a class on atoms, the teacher could have the students draw a hydrogen atom on their device and submit their work to the teachers device. Depending on the results the teacher may choose to review material that the majority of the class did not understand next class time.

Using Nearpod

ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard

What is it?

ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard allows users to record instruction on an interactive whiteboard and post both the audio and visuals in the form of a video. This app also allows for users to search videos on various topics from music to chemistry that were posted from educators worldwide.

How can it be used?

This mobile app allows teachers to record their interactive whiteboard as they provide instruction for a lesson, later the educator can post this video in order for students to learn or review concepts. Students could also use this app to view videos from instructors across the globe. This engages students as it provides them a chance to actively participate in their learning instead of exclusively learning from a lecture - style classroom.

For Example: A middle school Math teacher may choose to do a "flipped classroom" one day. They could record their tutorial of a concept on their interactive whiteboard and post the video, students would be instructed to watch the video the night before class and during their scheduled block, time could be spent reviewing parts of the concept that are not clear or doing homework with the teacher readily available to provide help.