UDL @ UVA
“The purpose of education is not to make information accessible, but rather to teach learners how to transform accessible information into usable knowledge.” -- Introduction to the UDL Guidelines (CAST, 2012)
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an educational framework that guides the design of learning goals, materials, methods, and assessments while keeping in mind the diversity of learners and the variety of characteristics and experiences brought to the academic experience.
Developed by CAST, this framework is a blueprint to improve and optimize teaching based on three primary guidelines - the Universal Design for Learning Guidelines:
- Engagement (The why of learning): Look for multiple ways to motivate your audience
- Representation (The what of learning): Provide information in more than one format
- Action & Expression (The how of learning): Suggest more than one way to interact with the material
Download the UDL Graphic Organizer
Courses designed around these theories and principles are not specifically creating an accessible environment. Rather, UDL is about designing interactions to be more accessible to all learners; offering the learner choice and control, and keeping learners engaged. Following these guidelines helps to create a learning environment which lends itself to greater accessibility.
Adopting a new framework can be daunting. Try "Plus-One" thinking. Instead of trying to create the perfect course, follow the three guidelines and in your current course structure and materials, add just one more option to each. One additional way to motivate, an additional method of providing information, and an additional way to interact with the material.
"For every interaction that learners have now -- with the materials, yes, but also with each other, with instructors and with the wider world -- provide one more way for that interaction to happen. The 'plus-one' approach helps to take what otherwise might look like an insurmountable amount of effort and break it down into manageable, approachable chunks. It also helps people to determine where to start applying the UDL framework so they can address current challenges and pain points in their interactions.” (Thomas Tobin)
Below are a number of resources to help introduce you to the UDL framework.
- TED Talk by Todd Rose: "The Myth of Average" (VIDEO)
- Universal Design for Learning Series: Definition and Principles (Oakland Univ - VIDEO)
- UDL On Campus: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education (CAST)
- UDL and the Brain (CAST)
- Applications of Universal Design in Postsecondary Education (Univ of Washington - DO•IT)
- Think UDL (Podcast)
- Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education (Thomas J. Tobin and Kirsten T. Behling)
Join the conversation!
Leaders in UDL have presented at UVA over the past few years. Their presentations and materials from their sessions are located on a UVACollab site. For access to the site and to join the UDL@UVA email list, contact the Coordinator of Academic Accessibility at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2016: Sheryl Burgstahler, University of Washington
- 2017: Luis Pérez, The AEM Center / Apple Distinguished Educator
- 2018: Elizabeth Berquist, Baltimore County Public Schools, CAST-Professional CADRE
- 2019: Lillian Nave, Appalachian State Univ / College STAR