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Center for Teaching Excellence

What is Universal Design for Learning?

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 (CAST, 2021). UDL has direct application at MATC since we have such a diverse student population.

There are three main guidelines that provide inclusive education experiences and learning environments. When following these guidelines, instructors will provide multiple means of:

  1. Engagement (the why of learning)
  2. Representation (the what of learning)
  3. Action and Expression (the how of learning)

This short video will introduce you to UDL and these three guidelines. Please see this graphical organizer for more detailed information about the guidelines. This information is found on the CAST website, which is a nonprofit education research and development organization that created the UDL framework.

Many instructors at MATC already have multiple means of engaging students, providing multiple ways of presenting curriculum to students, and encouraging multiple ways of student actions and expression in things such as learning activities and assessments. As more and more instructors consider equity within their courses, more ideas and opportunities arise for instructors to bring UDL to higher levels within their courses.

The CTE will continue to bring more information and resources surrounding UDL, so check this web page for updates for your continued growth in this area. We encourage you to share your experiences and ideas surrounding UDL so all instructors can benefit from your expertise. Email CTE@matc.edu.

Below you will find sections pertaining to resources in which you will find interesting articles and technologies that will help you to further incorporate UDL in your courses. We encourage you to share resources with the CTE so all instructors can benefit. Email CTE@matc.edu

How do I Incorporate UDL Guidelines in my Course?

You are likely already incorporating UDL in some ways. By presenting lectures in an engaging ways you are stimulating interest in your students. By varying your learning materials to include books and articles, you are presenting information in motivating ways for resourceful learners. When you vary your assessments that not only includes papers, but also presentations and other interesting assessments, you are allowing learners to express their knowledge in different ways.

To further incorporate UDL in your course, consider your student's learning diversity. Instead of having multiple topics in an entire lecture, consider presenting some concepts in a video or infographic. Perhaps you can incorporate project-based assessments or interactive group work that allows learners to express themselves, but also learn from their peers.

Learning more about UDL and UDL technology will help you better understand how to apply UDL. To help with this, you will find some technologies that will help incorporate UDL in your courses. There's also trending articles and peer-reviewed articles to dive deeper in your understanding of UDL and learner needs.

UDL Technology Resources

The enormous advantage of using various technologies in your courses is how they might allow you to present curriculum in multiple ways, and may allow students to engage learning activities and assessments in different ways. Not all technology will be applicable to your course(s), but perhaps there may be a few to consider. We have included whether there is a cost associated with the technology. We included some in which there is a small cost involved in case an instructor would like to inquire if their Department or Pathway would like to pay for it. Note: some video creation tools are not included below because Yuja is available and its integration with Blackboard and auto-captioning are superior.

The below technology platforms apply to instructors and students.

Blackboard
Blackboard may be overlooked for its features that enhance UDL. The Discussion Forums and Group tools allow students to interact, express themselves, and learn from each other. Blackboard isn’t just for online learning; it can be used to enhance face-to-face courses, and other multi-modality courses. Free at MATC.

Yuja
Yuja is connected to the courses in Blackboard. Instructors can make recordings as an alternative way to present curriculum. It also has a Quiz feature that allows instructors to ask questions of students. This may be done with or without grading and is another way of providing multiple ways for students to engage. Free at MATC.

Social Annotation Platforms
Social annotation platforms allow instructors and students to make comments on text sources such as articles and books. This allows students to express their ideas immediately in response to the text in the source. Hypothes.is is probably the most well-known, but Diiago, Perusall, NowComment, and Dropbox Paper are similar platforms. NowComment and Dropbox Paper have a bit more capability with pictures. All have free versions.

Canva
Canva is a graphic design platform that allows instructors to create infographics and other media as an alternative way to present material. If students use it, it allows them to express their ideas in different ways. A free version is available.

Draw.io
Draw.io allows instructors and students to draw and create almost anything, including mind maps and infographics. A free version is available.

Nearpod and Peardeck
Nearpod allows the teacher to broadcast a presentation with embedded polls and quizzes. Peardeck is similar, but offers more self-paced options for students. Both have free versions.
Plickers and Menitmeter
Plickers allows instructors to ask formative questions to quickly gauge understanding. Best used when students have smartphones or devices immediately available.

Mentimeter is similar to Plickers, but also integrates word clouds to gain student interest in topics. 

Flipgrid
Flipgrid is a platform that allows instructors to create presentations and prompts in which students can respond in video format. It is very popular among students and increases engagement and interactivity as students learn. A free version is available.

Project-based Platforms
In addition to Google Drive used here at MATC, project-based platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Slack allow students to share data and files as they work toward a common project. Instructors may use them to manage student activity on projects. Both have free versions.

VoiceThread
VoiceThread is a tool in which students provide comments on a video. A good comparison is that of a text discussion forum in Blackboard, but with VoiceThread the interaction is video-based. The cost is $99 for a year for 1 instructor and 50 students. Add students for $2 per student.

UDL Informational Resources

The below resources contain information that allows you to dive deeper into UDL and to learn of new articles related to UDL. Although some information is a bit older, keeping it available allows anyone new to UDL to gain a better understanding of UDL.
[list resources here]

Aguiar, C., Elshobokshy, F., Huron, A., (2021, Sep 13). Bringing Theories to Practice: Universal Design Principles and the Use of Social Annotation to Support Neurodiverse Students. Faculty Focus.

Grant, K., and Perez, L. (2021, Feb 9). 30+ Tools for Diverse Learners. International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

 

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