UDL Tools and Considerations

Tips and Advice for Teachers on Implementing Universal Design for Learning

UDL Enhances Rigor Through Accessibility

As mentioned on the About UDL Page, the focus of Universal Design for Learning is providing students with access to course materials and concepts in multiple ways.  We can't predict what each individual student will remember from each type of resource or how each student will take up a specific assignment, so we aim to provide flexible means of engagement.  However, flexibility in engagement does not imply reduction in course rigor.  We allow more types of engagement in order to solidify course concepts — the goal is to help students better learn, understand, and appreciate course materials so that they're better able to retain information and apply it in their lives beyond the classroom.

Fundamentally, the aim is to maximize student potential, increasing what our students can accomplish and want to accomplish.

As Todd Rose explains, fighter pilots have jagged size profiles — there is no such thing as an "average"-sized pilot.  By "designing to the edges," the Air Force and aircraft manufacturers improved the function of high-performance aircraft while expanding the number of potential pilots.  "And today, we have the most diverse pool of fighter pilots ever.  But…many of our top pilots would have never fit in a cockpit designed for average" (emphasis mine).

"Plus One" Lesson Planning with UDL

In an ideal world, you'd integrate UDL before your semester begins, examining how best to explain complex concepts to your students.  In reality, it's likely that you've landed on this website mid-semester, and you may be looking at how to use UDL either in your present course or for a future course.  For UDL, we use the concept of "Plus One" lesson plan updates: simply choose one item to change, make that small change, and see how it goes.

How "Plus One" Helps:

Why "Plus One" Is Not "Plus Everything Ever":

Resources: Bringing UDL to Your Classroom

Video: Dr. Nico Osier, "Plus-One" Thinking in Genetics

Video: Dr. Brandon Campitelli, "Plus-One" Thinking and Learning Outcomes

Integrating Digital Resources

Although UDL may recommend short videos and images in places where a traditional course might solely depend on long lectures or assigned readings, this does not mean a reduction in the readings or workload.  Instead, we use images, "microlectures," and other multimodal resources prepare students for more complex tasks such as reading academic articles, interpreting lecture materials, and writing research papers.  By providing memorable overview information about complex course concepts, we enable students to better apply these concepts in their work.

Building Websites

Integrating Multimodal Resources

We communicate through words, of course, but nonverbal cues are a key part of sorting and prioritizing information.  Sounds, images, gestures, and the juxtaposition of concepts should be fundamental considerations when you present information to your students.

The Multimodal Tools Page provides a description of the Five Professional Modes of communication.  In particular, the pages on Video Design and Presentation Planning may be helpful in helping you plan and create these materials.