Universal Design for Learning



Universal Design for Learning has it's roots in an architechtural movement called Universal Design. Universal Design was used as a blueprint for designing buildings and other structures to be accessible to all people, including those in wheelchairs. Over the years people noticed that not only did people in wheelchairs benefit from those mandated curb cutouts, but so did the "average" person pushing a stroller, pulling a wagon or riding a bicycle. Here is a video showcasing Universal Design.

Definition: Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a research-based framework for designing curricula—that is, educational goals, methods, materials, and assessments—that enable all individuals to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. This is accomplished by simultaneously providing rich supports for learning and reducing barriers to the curriculum, while maintaining high achievement standards for all students (CAST.org)

UDL is a crossroads made up of several best practices that many teachers already use: differentiated learning, cooperative learning, thematic teaching, alternative instruction, community based instruction, learning strategies study skills.

The main difference between UDL and AT is that AT focuses on the individual child and UDL focuses on the general curriculum. Some of the adaptations may be similar in nature but ultimately can effect more than one student.

Components:
  1. Built in tools that promote access for all
  2. A flexible presentation of the general curriculum that can meet the needs of all (CEC 2005)

Principles:
  • Multiple means of representation, to give diverse learners options for acquiring information and knowledge,
  • Multiple means of action and expression, to provide learners options for demonstrating what they know,
  • Multiple means of engagement, to tap into learners' interests, offer appropriate challenges, and increase motivation



Resources:
CAST Center for Applied Special Technology (Founders of UDL)
Article about UDL
Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age - Online Book
UDL Tech Tool Kit - Wiki
ToolBelt Theory - Ira Socol (MUST read!)
Teaching Every Student - UDL Blog
Videos discussing UDL
CitED Learning Center - (FREE) UDL Moodle Courses
UDL Lesson Builder
UDL Guidelines
UDL SelfCheck
Don Johnston UDL Article Success for All Learners
UDL4All - Wiki
UDLStrategies Wiki
National Center for UDL