Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a curriculum design, development and delivery framework used to create inclusive and accessible learning environments. UDL Guidelines are based on three primary brain networks: Affective (the why of learning), Recognition (the what of learning), and Strategic (the how of learning).
Each network is identified by a principle to provide multiple means of engagement, representation, and action and expression.
The curriculum, as referenced in the literature on UDL, has four parts: instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments. UDL is intended to increase access to learning by reducing physical, cognitive, intellectual, and organizational barriers to learning, as well as other obstacles. UDL principles are connected to implementing inclusionary practices in the classroom.
Learners differ in the ways that they perceive and comprehend information that is presented to them. For example, those with learning disabilities (e.g., dyslexia); language or cultural differences, etc. may all require different ways of learning the content.
Learning occurs when multiple means representations are used because it allows students to make connections within, as well as between, concepts. In short, there is not one means of representation that will be optimal for all learners so providing options for representation is best (CAST UDL Guidelines, 2018).
How learners are affected by content is essential to the learning process. People differ markedly in the ways in which they can be engaged or motivated to learn. There are a variety of sources that can influence individual variation in affect such as neurology, personal relevance, and background knowledge.
Some learners are highly engaged by spontaneity and novelty while others are disengaged by those aspects, preferring routine. Some learners might like to work individually, while others prefer to work in groups. There is not one means of engagement that will be optimal for all learners; providing options for engagement is essential (CAST UDL Guidelines, 2018).
Learners differ in the ways they navigate a learning environment and express what they know and have learned. For example, some individuals may be able to express themselves well in written text but not speech, and vice versa. It should also be recognized that action and expression require significant strategy, practice, and organization; this is another area where learners can differ. There is not only a single means of action and expression that will be optimal for all learners; providing options for action and expression is necessary (CAST UDL Guidelines, 2018).