Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone--not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs. UDL is a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that:
The concept of Universal Design originated in the field of architecture, with the goal of creating places and things that were accessible to as many people as possible. For example, curb cuts were originally designed to enable people with wheelchairs to move more smoothly about their community. Yet, as we know, curb cuts not only accomplished that, but also improved access for people with strollers, bikes, and skateboards. Hence, the term “universal.”
In a sense, Universal Design for Learning is a curb cut for the classroom. That is, UDL is an approach to designing educational environments and products so they can be used by the widest range of students without adaptation. This flexible design of curriculum anticipates the full range of diversity found in American classrooms and puts supports in place before they are needed. With flexible curriculum, all students can succeed.
While this video depicts a universal design scenario from an architecture point of view, the ideas presented can be applied to the classroom.
The video depicts some of the obstacles that the Normals encounter in their trip to get pizza. The steps illuminated in the video used to address the obstacles can be leveraged to think about all facets of the learning environment. Lets look at each.
Individuals bring a huge variety of skills, needs, and interests to learning. Neuroscience reveals that these differences are as varied and unique as our DNA or fingerprints. Three primary brain networks come into play:
|Recognition Networks||Strategic Networks||Affective Networks|
|The "what" of learning||The "how" of learning||The "why" of learning|
|How we gather facts and categorize what we see, hear, and read. Identifying letters, words, or an author's style are recognition tasks.||Planning and performing tasks. How we organize and express our ideas. Writing an essay or solving a math problem are strategic tasks.||How learners get engaged and stay motivated. How they are challenged, excited, or interested. These are affective dimensions.|
|Present information and content in different ways||Differentiate the ways that students can express what they know||Stimulate interest and motivation for learning|
|More ways to provide Multiple Means of Representation||More ways to provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression||More ways to provide Multiple Means of Engagement|
Source: CAST - What is UDL? (http://www.cast.org/research/udl)
The UDL Guidelines are a framework for thinking about how to develop learning experiences that are accessible and inclusive to all learners. You can find them on this website. The viedo below is a helpful introduction about the guidelines.