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mLearning: Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) History

History of UDL

Please watch this short video for the history of UDL.

How has UDL been defined?

A concise definition of Universal Design for Learning was provided by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA), which stated:

From the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 ...

The term UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING means a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that:

(A) provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and
(B) reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and  challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are limited English proficient. 

Principles of UDL

Three Main Principles of UDL

UDL is a framework for how to develop lesson plans and assessments that is based on three main principles:

  • Representation: UDL recommends offering information in more than one format. For example, textbooks are primarily visual. But providing text, audio, video and hands-on learning gives all kids a chance to access the material in whichever way is best suited to their learning strengths.
  • Action and expression: UDL suggests giving kids more than one way to interact with the material and to show what they’ve learned. For example, students might get to choose between taking a pencil-and-paper test, giving an oral presentation or doing a group project.
  • Engagement: UDL encourages teachers to look for multiple ways to motivate students. Letting kids make choices and giving them assignments that feel relevant to their lives are some examples of how teachers can sustain students’ interest. Other common strategies include making skillbuilding feel like a game and creating opportunities for students to get up and move around the classroom.

Other examples of UDL in the classroom include letting students complete an assignment by making a video or a comic strip. To get a deeper understanding of UDL, it also helps to see how it’s different from a traditional approach to education. Explore this chart that compares UDL and traditional education side by side.