Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a well established concept, but implementation remains at the edges of teaching. A large body of literature researching how to do it is useful but many education systems still treat it as “special” learning especially in schools. But there is some movement on UDL at The University of Sydney.
UDL follows the same concept of universal design found in other disciplines. It is about creating inclusive learning environments, tools, and activities. And in the same way that universal design benefits everyone, UDL does the same.
There seems to be a little more progress for UDL in higher education where students are adults rather than children. The right to an education becomes more evident at this level and UDL is a good way to create inclusive leaning for everyone. But it does require a change in mindset.
The Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) is a good resource for the tertiary education sector. Their one hour webinar on implementing UDL at The University of Sydney tells an interesting story.
Presenter, Sarah Humphreys, introduces the significance of UDL and how she established a pilot project in 2021 at the University of Sydney. The pilot, “Designing for Diversity” focused on one academic and one unit of study. Part of the process was developing relationships with stakeholders to find a common language to support a shift in mindset.
Sarah Humphries provides examples of the evaluation processes to illustrate how the iterative process worked and generated resources. The UDL is still in its early phase because the focus is not to prescribe or standardise how UDL is used. It is more about a cultural change over time.
The title of the ADCET webinar is, Implementing Universal Design for Learning at the University of Sydney – Lessons Learned and Scaling Strategies. It is available on the ADCET website or on YouTube below.