Universal Design for Learning

What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning based on scientific insights into how humans learn. Many instructors at MATC already have multiple means of engaging students, presenting curriculum, and encouraging student actions and expression in learning activities and assessments. As equity issues within our courses are addressed, more ideas and opportunities arise for instructors to incorporate UDL concepts into the classroom.

The application of three main UDL guidelines can create inclusive education experiences and learning environments. When following these guidelines, instructors will provide multiple means of:

  1. Engagement (the why of learning)
  2. Representation (the what of learning)
  3. Action and Expression (the how of learning)

UDL’s graphic organizer provides more detailed information about the guidelines. This information is found on the CAST website, which is a nonprofit education research and development organization that created the UDL framework.

How do I incorporate UDL Guidelines into the Classroom?

Faculty are most likely incorporating UDL in some ways. By presenting lectures in engaging ways you are stimulating interest in your students. By varying learning materials, faculty are presenting information in motivating ways for resourceful learners. When faculty vary assessments, learners are empowered to express and exhibit the competencies in different ways.

To further incorporate UDL, faculty can continue to consider students’ learning diversity. Instead of having multiple topics in an entire lecture, perhaps present some concepts in a video or infographic. Consider incorporating project-based assessments or interactive group work that allows learners to express themselves, and also learn from their peers.

UDL Technological Resources

Learning more about UDL and UDL technology will help faculty better understand how to apply UDL. The enormous advantage of using various technologies in your courses is how they might allow you to present curriculum in multiple ways, and may allow students to engage learning activities and assessments in different ways. Not all technology will be applicable to your course(s), but perhaps there may be a few to consider.


The Discussion Forums and Group tools allow students to interact, express themselves, and learn from each other. Blackboard isn’t just for online learning; it enhances face-to-face courses, and other multi-modality courses. MATC provides free access.


Yuja is connected to the courses in Blackboard. Instructors can make recordings as an alternative way to present curriculum. It also has a Quiz feature that allows instructors to ask questions of students. This may be done with or without grading and is another way of providing multiple ways for students to engage. MATC provides free access.

Social Annotation Platforms:

Social annotation platforms allow instructors and students to make comments on text sources such as articles and books. This allows students to express their ideas immediately in response to the text in the source. Hypothesis is probably the most well-known, but Diiago, Perusall, NowComment, and Dropbox Paper are similar platforms. NowComment and Dropbox Paper have a bit more capability with pictures. All have free versions.


Canva is a graphic design platform that allows instructors to create infographics and other media as an alternative way to present material. If students use it, it allows them to express their ideas in different ways. A free version is available.


Draw.io allows instructors and students to draw and create almost anything, including mind maps and infographics. A free version is available.

Nearpod and Peardeck:

Nearpod allows the teacher to broadcast a presentation with embedded polls and quizzes. Peardeck is similar, but offers more self-paced options for students. Both have free versions.

Plickers and Menitmeter:

Plickers allows instructors to ask formative questions to quickly gauge understanding. Best used when students have smartphones or devices immediately available.

Mentimeter is similar to Plickers, but also integrates word clouds to gain student interest in topics.


Flipgrid is a platform that allows instructors to create presentations and prompts in which students can respond in video format. It is very popular among students and increases engagement and interactivity as students learn. A free version is available.

Project-based Platforms:

In addition to Google Drive (which is used at MATC), project-based platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Slack allow students to share data and files as they work toward a common project. Instructors may use them to manage student activity on projects. Both have free versions.


VoiceThread is a tool in which students provide comments on a video. A good comparison is that of a text discussion forum in Blackboard, but with VoiceThread the interaction is video-based. The cost is $99 for a year for 1 instructor and 50 students. Add students for $2 per student.

UDL Informational Resources

The below resources contain information that allows faculty to dive deeper into UDL.

Aguiar, C., Elshobokshy, F., Huron, A., (2021, Sep 13). Bringing Theories to Practice: Universal Design Principles and the Use of Social Annotation to Support Neurodiverse Students. Faculty Focus.

Grant, K., and Perez, L. (2021, Feb 9). 30+ Tools for Diverse Learners. International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

UDL Framework Webinar Recordings

Nichole North Hester of True North presented this series of four webinars on the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Framework to MATC faculty.

Webinar sessions: