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Universal Design for Learning (or UDL), which “focuses on the design of flexible curricula, with diverse materials and means to provide everyone with learning” (Nieves, Moya, & Soldado, 2019). The UDL guidelines “offer a set of concrete suggestions that can be applied to any discipline or domain to ensure that all learners can access and participate in meaningful, challenging learning opportunities” by providing multiple means of engagement, representation, action, and expression. The goal? Expert learners who are purposeful, motivated, resourceful, knowledgeable, strategic, and goal-directed. Sounds great, but does the science back it up? CAST, the organization responsible for the development of UDL, says that it’s based on sound research evidence. Let’s take a look at a study that applied the UDL principles.

In 2019, a group of researchers applied UDL principles to a course teaching UDL principles. So meta. The results of their pilot study indicated that learners who took the course found it to be fully accessible; the majority of participants agreed that they had an opportunity to activate prior knowledge, to achieve the objectives of the course, and to fulfill their learning goals (p. 42). With a completion rate of 27% (as opposed to the average MOOC completion rate of 5-10%), one could say this course was a success.

Key Takeaway

Instructional designers have a responsibility to design inclusive learning and consider accessible resources, and UDL principles provide guidelines for doing that.

Read More (open access)

Nieves, L.H., Moya, E.C., & Soldado, R.M. (2019). A MOOC on universal design for learning based on the UDL paradigm. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 35(6), 30-47.

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