Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a curriculum design, development, and delivery framework used to create inclusive and accessible learning environments. The goal of UDL is to ensure access to learning, while encouraging the development of expert learners.
The three central principles of UDL are:
- Provide multiple means of engagement – Develop learning options to produce and sustain interest.
- Provide multiple means of representation – Provide content in multiple ways.
- Provide multiple means of action and expression – Offer options that allow students to fully demonstrate knowledge.
Research identifies UDL as a “best practice” approach to curriculum design, development, and delivery in all educational settings, including face-to-face, blended and online learning. Meaning, UDL is not in addition to the work required to educate, it is the means by which that work is done. Mohawk College feels that UDL provides the most comprehensive way for us to support and grow inclusion and access, college-wide.
Benefits of Universal Design for Learning
UDL has benefits for both learners and educators. While the greatest benefits of universal design implementation are often felt by students who are on the margins, there are numerous reasons to implement UDL in higher education. Typically, UDL implementers find:
- A reduction in the need for, and time required to arrange, individual accommodations.
- The proactive design supports a more diverse student population.
- A greater opportunity for learners to more fully demonstrate knowledge.
- Better development of more self-aware and knowledgeable learners.
- Meeting the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is easier.
Universal Design for Learning and You
Many educators at Mohawk College have already applied UDL to their courses. Some general ideas for UDL application include:
- Provide multiple means of engagement
- Give choice and promote autonomy.
- Ensure that learning is relevant and contextualized.
- Support communication and collaboration.
- Encourage self-reliance, reflection and personal assessment.
- Provide multiple means of representation
- Use a variety of media to deliver content.
- Offer options to change how content is displayed.
- Be explicit with instructions and offer clarification.
- Provide context to support new concepts.
- Provide multiple means of action and expression
- Employ multiple tools and media for communication.
- Facilitate planning and goal setting for learning opportunities.
- Organize course content and workload.
For more specific examples and ideas, review the UDL Standard, UDL Course Assessment, and/or videos found on this webpage. The UDL Implementation webpages also provide a variety of ideas and resources to support including UDL in your courses.
The UDL Standard for Mohawk College can be a tool to support your UDL implementation, as it provides direction regarding UDL considerations for curriculum design, development, and delivery. You can access this Mohawk College’s UDL Standard using the links below and to learn more you can watch the video on the UDL website landing page.
UDL Course Assessment
Take the UDL Course Assessment to determine the UDL elements currently in your course(s) and gain additional, targeted resources to support further UDL implementation. You can access the UDL Course Assessment by using the link above, or clicking the image below.
The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guide | For Fully Online Learning Environments offers you some UDL elements to consider when designing, developing, and delivering curriculum for an online learning environment. This guide has been adapted from the online UDL Course Assessment and while you are still welcome to use the tool, at this time you may find it helpful to have a more streamlined resource solely focused on online learning environments.
Examples of Universal Design for Learning from Mohawk College Educators
Universal Design for Learning and Us
If you are interested in learning more about UDL, or would like support for your implementation you can:
- Review Mohawk College’s UDL Standard.
- Use the UDL Course Assessment.
- Connect with the Centre for Teaching & Learning and/or attend curriculum design workshops offered through the Centre for Teaching & Learning.
- Contact Darla Benton Kearney, UDL Curriculum Consultant, at darla.benton [at] mohawkcollege.ca or 905-575-1212 extension 3688.