UDL was first conceived by David H. Rose, at CAST (Center for
Applied Special Technology)of the Harvard Graduate School of
Education in 1990s. It is an educational framework, based on
cognitive neuroscience for developing flexible learning
environments to accommodate all types of diverse learners.
The flexibility is ensured through customized ways of
(1)presentation of information (2) engagement of learners &
(3)demonstration of achievement of learners through
providing individually customized options to learners from the
beginning which allow all learners to progress from where
they are and not where the teacher would have imagined
them to be. Through this, it aims at creating optimum learning
environment for producing expert learners with three broad
characteristics: a) strategic, skillful and goal directed; b)
knowledgeable and c) purposeful and motivated to learn more.
• Originally meant for disabled learners, the UDL researchers
realized that it is not the ‘disability’ of the learners but the
‘fixed, one size fits all’ curriculum design, aimed at an
elusive, imaginary ‘average’ learner which is actual
disability. Such an inflexible approach not only disables
those learners identified as ‘disabled’ but also most of the
‘normal’ learners because even normal learners have
diverse motivations, learning styles & preferences for
learning due to their varied personality characteristics
either inherent or resulting from their diverse socio cultural
and linguistic backgrounds. The learner characteristics are
as diverse as the human DNA or finger prints. Not
addressing this learner diversity deprives the learners of
their fair & equal opportunities of learning.
4. Limitations of TDL
TDL (Traditional Design of Learning) has failed to create
Optimal Learning Environment due to following limitations.
• Inflexible, ‘One size fits all" curricula: No consideration for
learner diversity i.e. gifted and talented, with special needs,
varied geographical & socio-economic backgrounds, speaking
different languages/dialects. ‘Imaginary average learner.’
• Information rather than Strategies & skills as Content:
Only Information, without development of learning strategies &
skills learners need to comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and
transform the information into usable knowledge.
• Limited Pedagogical Options: TDL provides very limited
instructional options in terms of Methods & Techniques or
5. MAJOR PRINCIPLES OF UDL
• Provide Multiple Means of Representation(‘what’of learning)
Since learners differ in the ways they perceive & comprehend ideas
& information, content should be presented through varied modes.
Multiple representations of content help learners to link with
previous knowledge & real life through ‘transfer of learning.’
• Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression (‘how’ of learning)
This is about the ways in which learners get involved in the learning
process & express what they have learnt. Some may prefer routine,
others variety, novelty in learning environment. Some learn in groups,
some learn individually. It implies different types of assessment also.
• Provide Multiple Means of Engagement (‘why’ of learning) This is
related to ‘affective dimension’ of learners, about their motivation.
They may have varied goals. A variety of sources may influence
individuals in affect aspect such as neurology, culture, personal
relevance, subjectivity, background knowledge & so on.
6. Expert Learners from UDL perspective
• Resourceful and knowledgeable learners: They can (a) identify,
organize, prioritize, and assimilate new knowledge with
previous knowledge (b) recognize the tools and resources that
help them find, structure, and remember new knowledge (c)
are able to apply knowledge to real life situations (d) are able to
transform new knowledge creatively into creating further new
• Strategic, goal-directed learners: Who can (a) formulate plans
for learning (b)devise effective strategies and tactics to optimize
learning (c) organize resources and tools to facilitate learning
(d)monitor their own progress (e) recognize their own strengths
and weaknesses (f) are able to identify the efficacy or inefficacy
of each strategy & plan that they have adopted for learning and
can modify, abandon or substitute them.
7. • Purposeful, motivated learners: They are (a) goal-directed in
their learning (b) know how to set challenging learning goals for
themselves (c) can sustain the efforts and resilience required
for reaching those goals (d) can monitor and regulate their pace
of learning (e) overcome social & emotional stumbling blocks
that would be distractions to their successful learning.
8. Components of UDL Curriculum
• Goals: As per UDL framework, goals are articulated in a way
that acknowledges learner variability. It offers more options
and alternatives, varied pathways, tools, strategies etc. for
reaching these goals.
• Methods: UDL curricula facilitate further differentiation of
methods, based on learner variability in the context of the task,
learner’s social/emotional resources, and the classroom
climate. Flexible and varied, UDL methods are adjusted based
on continual monitoring of learner progress.
• Materials: The unique feature of the materials within the UDL
framework is their variability and flexibility. For content delivery,
UDL offers a number of media options along with just-in-time
supports such as hyperlinked glossaries, background
information and on-screen construction.
9. Components of UDL Curriculum
• For strategic learning and expression of knowledge, UDL offers
tools and supports needed to access, analyze, organize,
synthesize and demonstrate understanding in varied ways. For
engaging with learning, UDL offers alternative pathways in
choice of content, varied levels of support and challenge, and
options for recruiting and sustaining interest and motivation.
• Assessment: As per UDL, the goal is to improve the accuracy
and timeliness of assessments, and to ensure its
comprehensiveness and effectiveness as well as guide the
instructional process further. To achieve this, it focuses more on
the goals, than on the means allowing various modes of
assessment in consonance with goals.
10. Technology in UDL
Powerful digital technologies enable more effective
customization of curricula for individual learners. However,
it is important to note that these technologies should not
be considered to be the only way to implement UDL. For
‘disabled’ students, the use of personal assistive
technologies, e.g., an electric wheelchair, eyeglasses, or a
cochlear implant – is essential for basic physical and
sensory access to learning environments. Those students
will need their assistive technologies, even during activities
where other students may not use any technologies at all.
Even in classrooms that are well equipped with UDL
materials and methods, their assistive technology neither
precludes nor replaces the need for UDL overall.
11. UDL in Indian Context
One of the major thrust areas of contemporary education
system in India is ‘Inclusive Education.’ Apart from the
learners with special needs, Indian classrooms abound in
huge learner diversity. There are learners with lot of socio-
economic, cultural & linguistic differences. To add on to
these, there are individual differences in terms of
psychological variables such as interest, IQ, attitudes,
preferred learning styles and so on. UDL can help in
successfully addressing the needs of such a diverse learner
population. UDL may serve as the basis for creating flexible
options necessary to optimize learning amidst such huge