UD strategies for online courses

Logo of the conference SITE 2017, Society for information and teacher educationThe days of a lecturer or instructor standing up in front of a classroom expounding their knowledge are fast disappearing. Online learning is becoming the way of the future. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) aims to provide materials with flexibility to meet each students’ learning needs. UDL is also pertinent to any presentation in any context. In a conference paper by Bauder and Simmons, digital tools and strategies are discussed that can be used in the creation and development of online and hybrid courses. The goal is to maximize student learning outcomes through a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) perspective.

The presentation slides are very informative and give good advice to anyone making presentations to any group of people – the strategies are based on inclusive thinking and practice. Lots of examples are given. You can go to the website to see the abstract and download the text version. The presentation slides are on a separate tab within the page. 

Being smart from the start. Addressing the needs of diverse learners

A roadway school sign with a red triangle and child icons. Universal Design for Learning.Universal Design for Learning (UDL) has many followers with much academic writing and conferences about the topic. Indeed, Google searches on “universal design” usually bring up more items on UDL than any other topic.

Matt Capp provides an Australian perspective in “Is your planning inclusive? The universal design for learning framework for an Australian context”. The paper published in Australian Educational Leader can be downloaded from Informit, but it will require institutional access for a free view. UDL can be applied across all learning situations and people of any age.

Capp’s key message is similar to that when designing the built environment: design at the beginning – don’t try to add it in later. It’s too messy and time consuming. 


In June 1994 the Salamanca Statement called for inclusion to be the norm for students with disability. Goal one of the Melbourne Declaration aims to provide all students, including students with disability, access to high-quality schooling. The Declaration also seeks to reduce the effect of disadvantage, such as disability, on students. Unfortunately, this is not always the reality in Australian schools.

Long standing schooling practices are ineffective for some groups of students, and continuing to do what we have always done will perpetuate rather than eliminate the achievement gap (Edyburn, 2006). One solution to addressing the needs of diverse learners, such as students with disability, is the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework.

UDL as a set of principles allows teachers to develop inclusive lessons by planning to the edges of a class, rather than to a core group of learners. Supports and scaffolds are proactively built into the instructional methods and learning materials enabling all learners’ full participation in the curriculum (Hitchcock, 2001).

Retrospectively fitting lesson plans with adjustments based on flawed assumptions about the homogeneity of a core group of students consumes much time, and money, with only modest effectiveness. These retrospective adjustments are only the first step towards inclusion (Edyburn, 2006; Hitchcock, Meyer, Rose, Jackson, 2002). By being ‘smart from the start,’ UDL allows classroom teachers to develop lesson plans that are inclusive for all students.


Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Logo of the Ed Media and Technology conference proceedingsHere are links to four published papers on universal design for learning (UDL) from Proceedings of EdMedia: World Conference on Educational Media and Technology 2016 in Canada. The papers will be of interest to education academics and researchers.

Some articles will require institutional access. Here are the links to the abstracts: 

Getting Them Excited: Designing an online course based on the ARCS Model to encourage attention, relevance, confidence and student satisfaction in a general educational humanities class.

Abstract: A required general educational humanities class can often create a lot of first day student questions of, “Why do I Have to Take This Class?” This presentation showcases best practices in creating an engaging, relevant online course.

Based on the principles of John Keller’s (2010) ARCS method of motivational design for learning and performance, the course curriculum is designed to generate and sustain attention, establish and support relevance to the learner, build the confidence of the learner and manage outcomes for satisfaction. All of these increase learner motivation, leading to a greater mastery of the subject matter and ultimately achieving the goals of the course objectives.

Participants will leave the session with practical tools in interaction, collaboration, and assessments which can be immediately applied to their own courses. The main goal of the session is to encourage new ways and ideas for getting students excited about the humanities in an online learning environment.

Using Multimedia Solutions for Accessing the Curriculum Through a UDL Lens.

Abstract: Universal design for learning (UDL) is a conceptual framework that looks how one provides instruction for all students. At the core of UDL is the premise that the curriculum is often inaccessible. Thus, the materials and lesson that support the curriculum is not flexible, often poses barriers, and as a result prevents rather than supports optimal learning experiences. However, a stumbling block in incorporating UDL ideas what and how can they be incorporated into a teacher’s pedagogy?

This session will provide participants with ideas and actual means of using UDL strategies using easy to use multimedia programs that facilitate the ideals of multiple means of representation, expression and engagement.

Theoretical Framework Regarding the Usability of Augmented Reality in Open and Distance Learning Systems.

Abstract: Open and Distance Learning (ODL) systems require the use of new and unique technological mediums, and are strengthened this way. Augmented Reality (AR) is an innovative medium which is defined as enriching objects and locations in the physical world using artificial elements. AR, which is applied through various hardware and software components, can also be used in ODL mediums.

However there has not been much research into the usability of this medium. Within this context, benefitting from dimensions of the Universal Design Principles (UDP) and ODL, a theoretical framework would be a useful guide. In this study, the term AR is first defined and its usage areas are investigated. Then we look at studies in which AR and ODL systems are associated. And in the last section, we provide an explanation of UDP and construct the theoretical framework of the study.

Designing Universal Access for Open and Distance Learning through Human Centered Ecological Design (HCED).

Abstract: Open and Distance Learning (ODL) has become an original version of a system contributed with advanced communications technologies. At the core of the system concept, which brought together in order to achieve a common goal, the important point is the common properties and the integrity of the interactive parts to each other as well as the continuity and viability of this integrity.

Before trying to solve, Human Centered Ecological Design (HCED) requires a design approach that incorporates trying to understand the system with particular challenges. The main purpose of this research is to determine the HCED based design recommendations for a living, efficient and sustainable ODL system.

This is qualitative case study. Eleven participants agreed to complete the required three rounds of the survey. The findings helps to build an approach for interactive, efficient, rich and innovative ODL experiences through HCED in the framework universal access principles.

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