Universal Design for Learning

Advances in online and multimedia technology have been driven by many forces, like the seemingly insatiable demand for funny cat videos. While perhaps not the driving force, education is the beneficiary of many newly created opportunities.  A good example is Universal Design for Learning (UDL). In 2017, many aspects of UDL can be easily addressed with online and multimedia technology that were difficult or impossible 50 years ago.

As I read King-Sears (2009) 7 principles of UDL, I was pleased to recognize most of the principles in my own courses. I must confess that when I created the course material I had not heard of UDL, so it was not considered in the design of the content. I wish I had known of, and followed Edyburn’s (2010) proposition #3: UDL Is Ultimately About Design. Many of UDL aspects in my courses are amendments and changes I have made were in reaction to students’ interaction with the material.

I have had a variety of disabled students, and many ESL students in my classes and there are aspects of the student’s experience I just did not foresee. I am constantly making changes in response to student experience and feedback. Often, changes are as simple as the wording of textual material for clarification.

Recently, I have been (slowly) trying to create online versions of my in-class content. I hope to give some students the option of completing the course at a distance. TRU is not 100% mobility-friendly as many of the buildings were constructed before the architectural version of UDL was standard. For some students just getting to campus and class is a challenge. I know many disabled students are more comfortable working from home where the environment is friendlier and customized for their needs.

What I’m doing is diligently removing roadblocks, while UDL is an instruction design approach with the goal of building a path with no obstacles in the first place.


Edyburn, D. L. (2010). Would You Recognize Universal Design for Learning if You Saw it? Ten Propositions for New Directions for the Second Decade of UDL. Learning Disability Quarterly, 33(1), 33-41.

King-Sears, M. (2009). Universal Design for Learning: Technology and Pedagogy. Learning Disability Quarterly, 32(4), 199-201.

1 thought on “Universal Design for Learning

  1. Hi Rick,
    I also found that I already use many of the principles or propositions for UDL in my lesson planning. I have found that no matter how many times I revise things to remove the obstacles there will always be a student for whom things don’t work. Kudos for remaining diligent, sometimes I give up and just go with what is working the best for the most.

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