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Universal Design for Learning
Overview of Universal Design for Learning

Overview of UDL Principles

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) ‘is a framework that guides the design of learning objectives, methods, materials, and assessments as well as the policies surrounding these curricular elements with the diversity of learners in mind.

Meyer & Rose, 2006

Universal Design for Learning is a framework for improving and optimizing teaching and learning for all people. Developed by CAST | Until learning has no limitsOpens in a new window®, it is based on scientific insights into the variabilityOpens in a new window of human learning and seeks to equalize access to curriculumOpens in a new window.

UDL promotes designing learning experiences using a variety of teaching methods in order to remove barriers to learning, proactively respond to the variability of learners, and support the development of learner expertiseOpens in a new window. The UDL GuidelinesOpens in a new window support this work. They encourage reflective practice, bust myths about teaching practices and learner attributes, and offer concrete suggestions that can be applied to any discipline. For example, the UDL Guidelines encourage designing curriculum with flexibility in mind not because some learners will struggle without it but because it invites learners to demonstrate their assets and strengths, thus ensuring access to and participation in meaningful, challenging learning opportunities.

Before we go any further, let’s discuss what we mean by curriculum. In this course we use the term curriculum to mean a course of study that in the province of Ontario encompasses standards, content, and a variety of teaching approaches and assessment strategies. In some jurisdictions, the term curriculum may refer only to content and the term pedagogy to the method of delivery. Throughout these modules we will be noting that from an adult education and learner experience model, the content and content delivery are inextricable. In the context of decolonizing curriculum, curriculum design is an ongoingly reflective and iterative process.

The video below provides an overview of the UDL framework. It also explains in detail the three UDL principles:

  • Engagement (options for learners to engage and persist),
  • Representation (options for instructors to communicate course concepts), and
  • Action and Expression (options for students to demonstrate what they have learned).
Introduction to UDL5:00 min

Let’s take a brief look now at some foundational UDL concepts and practices such as flexibility, learner variability, accessibility, and learner expertise.

Next sectionFlexibility and the Myth of Average