Universal Design for Learning... you’ve heard the term, right? Maybe you remember taking the UDL course during the 45-hour Online Faculty Training Series, or maybe you’ve used the Accessibility Checker in Falcon Online. But, for many of us, it’s been a while since we’ve had a moment to think about UDL and what it means for our students. Well, you’re in luck, because that moment has arrived!
Universal Design for Learning has its roots in architectural design concepts such as flexibility, equitability, and intuitive use. For example, consider curb cuts in sidewalks. These features are designed to create accessibility for those using mobility aids such as walkers and wheelchairs, but they benefit many other users (parents with strollers, delivery people moving items on dollies, etc.). Similarly, UDL is a design framework that considers diverse users from the start, creating learning environments where all users enjoy increased usability and benefits through expanded accessibility.
Unlike its architectural counterpart, UDL is focused on cognitive access to learning (rather than physical access). UDL is often misunderstood as a tool for accommodating students with disabilities, and it admittedly can be of use to these students. However, it is more appropriate to think of UDL as an educational design framework for all students, rather than an intervention for students with specific needs. Good universal design is baked into all aspects of the learning design, from the development of SLOs through assessment of student learning. Designing from this perspective can help you create a pliable learning environment that adjusts to student needs, rather than expecting students to change regardless of their capability or capacity to do so.
As you might be able to surmise at this point, I’m a huge proponent of UDL as an instructional design framework. In fact, increasing UDL implementation at Daytona State is the central focus of my doctoral dissertation. If you’re interested in learning more about UDL and how it can benefit your students, I’d like to invite you to be part of that work! You can join me by reading the Online Studies Blog (look at you, doing that right now!), joining us at our Snack and Share events in the FIC, or joining me in my upcoming UDL office hours. If you’re interested in one-on-one conversations and support, please fill out the UDL Office Hours Interest Survey so that I can follow up with you.
I can’t wait to dive deeper into UDL as we all work toward more accessible and meaningful learning experiences for all of our Falcons! Happy Teaching!
Aryn Davis, M.Ed.
School of Education
firstname.lastname@example.org | 386-506-3077