UDL is an inclusive educational framework that guides curriculum development for all learners by providing them with opportunities for equal education. Through flexible approaches, UDL provides a blueprint for instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments.
This video explores the principles of UDL and the importance of applying them in online and in-person classes
The three principles of UDL
The UDL principles are based on the three-network model of learning that considers the variability of all learners—including learners who were formerly relegated to “the margins” of our educational systems but now are recognized as part of the predictable spectrum of variation.
These principles guide the design of learning environments with a deep understanding and appreciation for individual variability.
The UDL guidelines are a tool used in the implementation of UDL. These guidelines offer a set of concrete suggestions that can be applied to any discipline or domain to ensure that all learners can access and participate in meaningful, challenging learning opportunities.
Benefits of applying UDL in higher education
UDL promotes student health & wellbeing, supports teaching excellence, ensures access, supports diverse student populations, reduces the need for some individualized accommodations and supports all students, not just those with disabilities.
UDL Plus 1 approach
While applying all the UDL guidelines to your course may seem daunting at first, it doesn't have to be. Start small by applying the UDL Plus 1 approach. In designing your curriculum and delivery models, simply consider adding one more path to success. For example, consider turning on captioning when showing videos, sharing your slide deck with students as they follow along a live lecture, or allow students to submit either written or audio recorded responses to assignments/activities.
Examples of how to keep students engaged
Send students a welcome message at the beginning of the semester
Send regular encouraging messages to students (i.e., weekly, bi-monthly)
Offer no-consequence practice
Show content relevance to students
Tie course goals to student lives
Increase mastery-oriented feedback
Examples of how to represent content in more than one way
Create alt-text description for images
Turn on captioning for videos and lectures on Zoom
Clarify vocabulary and symbols
Provide transcript for video and audio
Provide slide decks to students to follow along during lectures
Examples of how students can demonstrate their skills in different ways
Provide options for submitting work both in written format and an audio recording
Give students the option to work alone or in a group
Allow students to choose between doing live or pre-recorded presentations
Help students plan work
Course outline statements
By including an accessibility and UDL statement in your course outline, students will be made aware of what UDL elements have been included in the course, as well as the options that exist for them if accommodations are required. If you need support customizing the accessibility and UDL statement for your course, please contact CTL.
At Concordia, we value inclusion and accessibility. In my role as the instructor of this course, I strive to make the learning experience in my classroom as accessible as possible for all students. For this reason, I will be using principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in my course. For instance, for the midterm exam all students will be getting 100% extra time on top of the expected completion time of the test. That is, the expected completion time of the midterm is 1 hour, but everyone will get 2 hours. This will reduce barriers related to test taking for all students. In some cases, students who use a computer or other types of adapted technology may need to write their exams with the Access Centre for Students with Disabilities (ACSD) even though I will be providing the extra time. If you require accommodations other than extra time for exams, or receive more than double time on exams, please feel free to reach out to me or your advisor at the ACSD. For registration with the ACSD, please check out the ACSD website.
At Concordia, we value inclusion and accessibility. In my role as the instructor of this course, I strive to make the learning experience in my classroom as accessible as possible for all students. For this reason, I will be using principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in my course. For instance, for the oral presentation, students can choose whether they want to present live in front of the class or present a video recording of their presentation to the class, or simply present it to me. This will reduce barriers related to presenting in front of groups, which may impact many students. If you require accommodations not addressed in this course, please feel free to reach out to me or your advisor at the Access Centre for Students with Disabilities (ACSD). For registration with the ACSD, please check out the ACSD website.
Barriers that impact engagement can be related to exam/performance anxiety, lacking clarity on expectations of the assignment, misunderstanding instructions, or lacking parameters of topics covered on a test. Offering choice and variety in assessment conditions can reduce these barriers, as well as clearly articulating expectations and assignments parameters on a course outline. Clear expectations can reduce anxiety and increase engagement. Offer students study questions or rubrics, as well opportunities to ask questions.
Action & Expression
Barriers related to action and expression, such as assessments having a single response mode (i.e., only multiple-choice responses), having the same format for all assessments (i.e., only papers or only exams), or sequential exams. Consider varying the response mode and offering options or take-home exams.
When planning assessments, consider the ways in which the items are presented—text, graphs, charts, images, videos, demonstrations, objects to manipulate. Consider highlighting critical features in a text or graphic or providing definitions for vocabulary.