Defined by CAST, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn.
The UDL approach to teaching minimizes barriers and maximizes learning for all students. It begins with the foundational understanding that every learner is highly variable. No learner is just one thing; we all have strengths and weaknesses. Those strengths and weaknesses become apparent based on the task, the environment, the resources and tools available, and even a learner’s affect (what sort of day he’s having).
UDL aims to change the design of the environment and curriculum rather than to change the learner. By anticipating learner variability and proactively reducing the barriers to learning, UDL empowers all learners to engage in rigorous, meaningful learning experiences.
The "Why" of Learning.
The affective network is in charge of emotions, engagement, challenge and interest.
The "What" of Learning.
The recognition network’s job is to take in and categorize information; make sense of letters, symbols, colors & shapes; to connect new learning to prior knowledge.
The "How" of Learning.
The strategic network is in charge of tasks that require planning, performing, organizing, strategizing, and expressing ideas.
In this short video CAST’s Curriculum and Design Specialist, Allison Posey defines UDL and demonstrates how the framework can be applied to optimize teaching and learning. She’ll also help you discover how implementing UDL will ensure that your students can access and participate in meaningful and challenging learning opportunities, whilst celebrating learner diversity.
Goals for learners must be clear and flexible. In other words, learners need to be able to access learning in multiple ways and to show what they know in ways that make it truly possible for them to reach their full potential.
Teachers must articulate goals in ways that are clear, flexible, and student friendly and share them with learners frequently. Goals must be introduced in the learning experience and revisited throughout the lesson to help learners remain goal-directed and purposeful in their work.
Once teachers articulate a goal for learning, they must be proactive in anticipating the barriers that may present themselves in that learning experience.
The UDL framework provides teachers with a proactive way to design solutions to these barriers through both choice and scaffolding. Download the practical classroom example of the thinking and design process teachers must go through in order to universally design for their learners.
We've teamed up with Think UDL to bring you podcast episodes centered around designing and implementing strategies in post-secondary settings, with learner variability in mind.
While UDL is a common phrase in many schools today, it can be difficult to practically implement in the classroom. To help with this, we’ve put together a list of 7 Universal Design for Learning examples and strategies for the classroom.
Check out this short video to find out how one school in New Zealand is embracing Universal Design for learning across all areas of the curriculum.
UDL is a phenomenal framework that can help transform learning opportunities but right now it's not well enough known, not well enough understood. So, we need to both spread the love, get the message out there.