Discussion 2: Universal Design for Learning


EDUC 631


The essence of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is to provide students with options throughout the learning process in order to best meet the needs of those students. CAST (2010) outlines three main principles to UDL: representation, action and expression, engagement. The key is to provide multiple options in all three areas (CAST, 2010). Distance learning must adjust to fit the needs of all learners. By developing online curriculums and programs that align with the UDL, educators can reach students with several types of learning, all at the same time.

CAST provides guidelines for educators to follow as they are developing curriculum and activities (2021). In distance learning, teachers must find ways to help students receive information in different ways, which could mean audio, video, multiple languages, and readability, or a combination of options (CAST, 2021). By providing students with the same information through multiple means of representation, students have a choice in how best to take in the information that is provided. In the same way, teachers can provide activities that involve accessibility tools, multimedia oral and written expression, appropriate organizing and facilitating information (CAST, 2021). Students can act in different ways to express their learning. Through distance learning, images, videos, and audios can easily be captured and submitted, just as written documents and presentations are submitted. Each student can choose the method of expression that best suits their individual needs. Teachers look for ways to engage students every day. This same principle should be incorporated into distance learning. Teachers use their vocal level, expressions, and actions to bring and sustain student attention during a learning task (CAST, 2021). Teachers may use specific colors, images, or themes for activities and lessons that meet the interests of their students. For instance, a kindergarten student that really responds to dinosaurs can do letter and number activities that incorporate images of dinosaurs (flashcards, hands-on games, worksheets). The student can be doing the same task as the other students, only with a theme specifically chosen to meet their personal interest. “Optimistically, supporting UDL alignment will advance the field’s understanding and acceptance of basic accessibility to a more advanced consideration of building product and systems with a focus on all learners” (Basham et al., 2016, p. 153).

In Jesus’s parable of the lost sheep, Jesus spoke of the shepherd who would leave his ninety-nine sheep to go and retrieve the one lost sheep (NIV, 1973/2011, Matthew 18:10-14). Jesus emphasized how important that one lost sheep was to the shepherd. Jesus showed us how to meet the needs of each individual through His ministry and miracles. Matthew 4:24 says, “News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them” (NIV, 1973/2011). Jesus set an example for us by healing all that came to him, no matter what circumstances they were coming from. When others said that the children should be showing proper respect and leave Jesus alone, Jesus called the children to him, “‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these’” (NIV, 1973/2011, Luke 18:16b). In the same way, we must strive to meet the needs of all of our students. We cannot expect them to all fit into our little box of expectations. Instead, we must find a box that fits each student.




Basham, J. D., Smith, S. J., & Satter, A. L. (2016). Universal design for learning: Scanning for alignment in K–12 blended and fully online learning materials. Journal of Special Education Technology, 31(3), 147-155. https://doi.org/10.1177/0162643416660836

CAST (2010). UDL at a glance [Video]. CAST, Inc. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDvKnY0g6e4&t=8s

CAST (2021). The UDL guidelines. CAST, Inc. https://udlguidelines.cast.org/?utm_source=castsite&lutm_medium=web&utm_campaign=none&utm_content=aboutudl


EDUC 631

Created by:  Casey Jo Burrus © 2021
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updated: October 3, 2021

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