Given what you have learned about UDL thus far, it is likely that you have already implemented elements of it in your teaching. If you have reflected on a lesson, determined the barriers for your learners and made changes for the next delivery you have begun your UDL journey. If you have considered the diverse needs of your learners and proactively provided support, you have already started embedding UDL. If you have questioned whether the assessments you use accurately evaluate your learning outcomes, and made changes to make them more authentic, you are well on your way. Implementing UDL in your current context may seem daunting, but there are some great ways to get started to gain quick benefits for educators and learners.
The following video, Getting Started [1:14] by UDL On Campus (2015), offers some quick tips on how to start thinking about and implementing UDL into your curriculum, course and/or program.
There are a number of strategic approaches to support UDL implementation in your context. Review the ideas below and determine which approach, or combination of approaches, you feel would suit your context best.
An ideal place to begin with UDL implementation is by reviewing and refining the curriculum or course learning outcomes. Effective implementation requires content to have measurable and explicit learning goals/outcomes. Consider the following implementation steps for your context:
- Review your learning outcomes/goals and refine them, if required
- Brainstorm all of the different ways a learner could meet each learning outcome/goal
- Refine your brainstormed list by considering possible barriers in your context. Ultimately, you want a list of UDL options you can actually offer
- Embed those UDL options into your curriculum/course
When using this approach for your UDL implementation, it is important to note that the application of UDL does not modify or provide options for the learning outcomes/goals. Instead, UDL encourages offering students options to obtain knowledge, as well as options to demonstrate their learning to meet those outcomes/goals.
UDL can be implemented in diagnostic, formative, or summative assessment methods. UDL assessments are:
- Specific to the course learning outcomes
- Authentic and accurate, as the assessments are designed to measure the learning outcomes and not extraneous skills or knowledge
- Equitable and inclusive in that they provide options so learners can leverage their strengths to show their learning
The video, UDL and Assessment [3:09] by UDL On Campus (2014), offers a short, but detailed look at how UDL Guidelines can be included in assessments:
Because UDL is not prescriptive regarding the types of assessments used, post-secondary educators have the flexibility needed to create assessments that are construct relevant and provide options to learners to demonstrate their mastery of the content. Below you will find some general tips to support applying the UDL Guidelines to assessments in your context:
- Provide varied assessment methods throughout the course, when you can
- Provide assessment options, when you can
- Provide submission options, when you can
- Base your rubric on the learning outcome/goal, not on the assessment method
You will notice the phrase “when you can” is used above. It is an important note as sometimes our assessments are based on factors that are external to our curriculum/course (e.g., preparing students for governing bodies, etc.).
A Process for Getting Started
Loui Lord Nelson developed a process for UDL implementation that both starts and ends with the essential element of UDL: Reflection focused on learners.
To view the steps of this process, navigate through the slides below using the blue progress bar at the bottom of the image or the small arrow next to the 1/6 text. Click the fullscreen button in the bottom right-hand corner for a larger view of the process.
(Nelson, 2014, p. 136)
Plus One Strategy
Thomas J. Tobin, UDL implementer and author, describes UDL as “…really just ‘plus-one’ thinking.” Meaning for each learning activity, assessment or interaction that learners have, try to “…provide one more way for that interaction to happen” (Battaglia, 2019). For those not sure where to begin with UDL implementation, the +1 strategy parses UDL “into manageable, approachable chunks” (Battaglia, 2019).
To apply the +1 approach, look at what you are already doing in your teaching and learning context and then add one more option for learners. For example:
- If you have provided an email address as a communication option for learners, add an online office hour
- If you currently post lesson content as a PowerPoint, post the same content as a Word document and link to a text-to-speech tool
- If you demonstrate a skill in a synchronous class/lab, add a video of the skill for learners to review
Once you have determined the best way to proceed with your UDL implementation, planning is essential to avoid some of the challenges with time noted earlier. Remember, the implementation of UDL is a dynamic process; small changes over time will ultimately create a course or curriculum that is more inclusive, equitable and accessible. The learning activity for this topic will walk you through your UDL implementation planning process.
Considering the UDL elements you would like to include in your course, and being mindful of possible barriers in your context, determine what you can do in each situation:
- Immediately and/or with little effort
- Within the semester or academic year
- When you develop, redevelop, or create a new lesson/module/course
You are invited to reflect in the way that works best for you, which may include writing, drawing, creating an audio or video file, mind map or any other method that will allow you to reflect and refer back to your thoughts.
Alternatively, a text-based note-taking space is provided below. Any notes you take here remain entirely confidential and visible only to you. Use this space as you wish to keep track of your thoughts, learning, and activity responses. Download a text copy of your notes before moving on to the next page of the module to ensure you don’t lose any of your work!
Battaglia, A. (2019, Jun 6). “Plus-One” thinking: A framework for inclusive teaching. University of Texas at Austin Faculty Innovation Center. https://facultyinnovate.utexas.edu/news/plus-one-thinking-framework-inclusive-teaching
Nelson, L. L. (2014) Design and deliver: Planning and teaching using universal design for learning. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.
UDL on Campus. (2015, Oct 8). Getting Started [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/_HHvRzemuHA
UDL on Campus. (2014, Jun 26). UDL and Assessment [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/AzRsqPqGlPw