Faculty Guide

Universal Design for Learning

What it is:

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) looks at how and why individuals learn information to help educators frame course content in multiple ways to reach more students. Additionally, UDL helps student with learning disabilities take online courses without adaption from Learning Support Services.

There are three basic principles to UDL -- representation (giving students multiple opportunities with different ways to understand information), action and expression (providing online learners several outlets to demonstrate the information they have learned), and engagement and interaction (challenging students in various methods to engage with course content).

Universal Design for Learning Principles: engagement, representation, and action and expression

Source: http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlguidelines_theorypractice

Why it is important to online faculty:

Online courses are an increasingly popular way for students (traditional and non-traditional alike) to further their education. More people than ever can learn outside of the physical classroom, but professors have to keep in mind that there are many ways by which people learn and demonstrate understanding of new concepts.

Here at OCE, we want to encourage you to use UDL strategies when planning your courses to accommodate a diverse range of students. Students with and without disabilities, as well as those with a variety of learning methods, will be able to access and use online classes better with a UDL-oriented course.

What faculty can do to improve their courses according to UDL principles:

We advise you to consider three main UDL points when constructing your OCE courses.

  1. How are you presenting/delivering information to students -- are you giving students multiple ways to learn course content, such as reading assignments, video lectures, and infographics?
  2. In what ways are students interacting with course content -- are they posting reactions on discussion boards, working in group projects, and/or creating videos of their own? Are students simply memorizing information, or are they asked to analyze and engage with it?
  3. How are students able to show you what they have learned -- how many different ways are you testing your students, such as assessments, essays, and/or more creative projects? Are students given a choice in how they want to demonstrate what they have learned?

UDL Resources:

  • CAST, a nonprofit education research and development organization that aims to increase learning opportunities for people of all backgrounds