Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for designing your instruction based on principles that allow all of your students to have access to the general curriculum. Every classroom is full of diverse students with their own unique learning styles. You might have a student who speaks two languages, a student who loves to draw, and a student who needs to have their text read out loud all in the same classroom.
Students bring their own needs, strengths, and weaknesses to the class, and it’s important that when we design our curriculum we consider that uniqueness. UDL uses a proactive approach to curriculum design to consider the natural variability of how students learn. The end result is curriculum that’s inclusive for all learning types.
The Three Types of Learning
Learning isn’t a singular thing. In fact, we know from science that there are three broad learning networks. There’s recognition (the what of learning), strategic (the how of learning), and affective (the why of learning).
Your students need to gain knowledge, strategies, and enthusiasm for learning. UDL helps you create lessons which target all three learning networks.
When we use the word design, we don’t just mean how the curriculum looks but also how it’s used by others.
A well-designed curriculum acts much like a well-designed building. In a universally designed building, architects plan for all types of people, with or without disabilities, who use their building. This means they’ll create ramps for those in wheelchairs and strollers, signs with braille for those visually impaired, and signs and maps for their visitors. By designing our curriculum for those in the margins, we create a curriculum that benefits everyone.