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Universal Design for Learning

Image explaining udl design experience. Strategic networks - how; Affective networks - why; Recognition networks - whatUniversal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for curriculum design that fosters an inclusive learning environment. View the UDL guidelines on the CAST website [accessible PDF].

Minimizing barriers to learning reduces the need for individual accommodations and helps to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to succeed. Providing multiple pathways to achieve course outcomes motivates and engages students with different learning styles, needs, and abilities.

UDL is a research-informed approach based on current scientific understanding of how people learn. Rather than a prescribed set of steps and procedures, it is a mindset that proactively considers how to optimize the learning experience by supporting the needs of diverse students. 

A universally designed experience integrates multiple means of representation (how content is delivered), action and expression (how students demonstrate their knowledge), and engagement (how students participate).

Services

UDL Microcredential: An asynchronous Canvas course designed to teach the fundamentals of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), assignments intended to help you develop and/or redesign your engagements to include best practices from the UDL framework, and an opportunity to join a community of inquiry focused on removing barriers from the experiences we create.

Upon completion of this training, participants should be able to:

  • LO1. Identify the three principles of Universal Design for Learning
  • LO2. Summarize the concept of Universal Design for Learning
  • LO3. Apply UDL principles in the context of our work
  • LO4 Identify campus contacts and resources for support and assistance

Consultations: one-on-one or small-group meetings in which we explore specific issues, challenges, or questions related to UDL implementation or best practices. Typically, an initial consultation ranges from 45 minutes to 90 minutes in length, depending on the complexity of the issues being discussed. 

Workshops: Hands-on opportunities to engage with UDL principles and best practices. Our one-hour Introduction to UDL workshop provides foundational knowledge, models best practices, and offers implementation tips in an engaging, interactive session that is appropriate for any audience. Upon request, we will develop a custom workshop to address specific audiences, topics, needs, or challenges.

Presentations: Options range from a high-level overview of UDL to an in-depth discussion of one or more principles, guidelines, or best practices.

  • Our 20-minute "sparkshops" raise awareness of inclusive pedagogy as well as outlining the various services our team can provide. As the name suggests, these bite-sized introductions are intended to help spark discussion within departments and programs. They are designed to fit perfectly within an existing meeting structure, such as a faculty meeting, orientation program, meet-and-greet, or on-boarding event.
  • We can be booked as guest lecturers to meet with your class. This format is most appropriate for seminar courses on topics related to diversity and inclusion, course design, faculty development, and education.
  • We regularly present at campus events and conferences, such as COLTT, Graduate Teaching Program orientations and trainings, and the Diversity and Inclusion Summits. We are happy to participate by invitation or to submit a session proposal for consideration.

Exhibitor: Invite us to staff a table in an exhibit hall or showcase at an event such as a student/faculty orientation or campus services fair. We'll bring tons of helpful resources, answer questions, and share fun promotional items to help raise awareness of UDL.

Classroom observations: Observations provide a confidential, non-evaluative mechanism for providing instructors with formative feedback on their current UDL implementation and specific suggestions for enhancement. At the instructor's discretion, they can be included in personnel files or portfolios as evidence of teaching effectiveness and demonstrated commitment to ongoing professional development.

Alignment with CU Boulder's IDEA Plan

This UDL micro-credential program provides professors, graduate students, and staff with knowledge and skills to create inclusive and welcoming experiences. By publicly displaying the digital badge awarded upon successful completion of this program, faculty, graduate students, and staff will signal their commitment to Universal Design for Learning. 

This program aligns with three key goals for inclusion, diversity, and excellence in academics. It aligns specifically with two of the climate goals of the campus diversity and inclusion plan (IDEA Plan), which aims to “build a campus climate characterized by a deep sense of belonging and based on a strong commitment to respect and care for all members of the CU Boulder community” and "ensure a curriculum that fosters intercultural competence and prepares critical thinkers who innovate through embracing multiple perspectives." This program also aligns with one of the infrastructure goals outlining a commitment to “both transformational and continuous improvement.” (p.8)

Section 2: Actions of the campus diversity and inclusion plan states in action item 1 “Cultivate success for a diverse undergraduate and graduate student body with expanded financial resources, academic programming, and services.” (p.10) 

  • Sub-point 1.6 states “Expand resources for administrative units that provide services to underserved student populations.“ The plan specifically points out in 1.6 “support the Office of Information Technology in expanding proactive resources for Universal Design services related to making teaching materials fully accessible for all learners.” (p.14). 
  • Sub-point 1.7 states “Support efforts to increase accessibility of high-impact practices for student success.” This includes “High-impact practices are data driven teaching and learning practices that have been widely tested and have been shown to be beneficial for college students from many backgrounds.” (p.15)
  • Sub-point 1.12 states “Implement targeted measures to improve campus climate for graduate and professional students.” This includes “create new avenues and incentives for faculty advisors to seek professional development regarding inclusive advisor-advisee relations.” (p.18)

Departments/primary units will be able to effectively measure equity and inclusion professional development as staff, faculty and graduate students complete this program, which aligns with the IDEA Plan's overarching recommendation that "All units should evaluate and take deliberate efforts to improve support of diversity, inclusion, and equity as pertains to climate, recruitment, and retention." This should include "growing accessible mentoring, leadership, and professional development opportunities." (p.14)

Departments/primary units will be able to effectively measure equity and inclusion professional development as staff, faculty and graduate students complete this program, which aligns with the IDEA Plan's overarching recommendation that "All units should evaluate and take deliberate efforts to improve support of diversity, inclusion, and equity as pertains to climate, recruitment, and retention. This should include: growing accessible mentoring, leadership, and professional development opportunities." (p.14)

Get Started with UDL

OIT staff are available to provide on-demand training and support for individuals, departments, or groups. Any of our offerings can be tailored to address issues specific to instructors, courses, programs, and/or disciplines. Please contact us to determine which services are most appropriate for your needs:

Resources