UDL as an “Adaptable” Curriculum

Author: Laura Cunningham - May 29, 2020

As educators, we inherently know that each student is different. Each student has different likes and dislikes, aptitudes towards different subjects, skill sets, and prior learning and experience, yet the curriculum that teachers use often does not recognize these differences. The curriculum is not nimble enough to adapt to a student’s learning differences. We, as educators, have placed the burden of adaptation on the student. But shouldn’t that burden be placed on the curriculum?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) may be the solution to that problem. UDL provides the framework, based on scientific research, to enhance the teaching and learning experience for all. It is grounded in how people learn and framed within a set of networks within the brain that address the “why,” “what,” and “how” of learning1. A UDL curriculum is one that engages students by providing modification for learning, allows for information to be presented in different ways, and gives students multiple means of expressing what they know.

Online learning can be an effective way for students to learn.

When curriculum is designed to follow the UDL framework, it is inherently adaptive. UDL doesn’t fit in with an “adaptable” curriculum. It is in. An “adaptable” curriculum does not follow a one-size-fits-all approach that we are so accustomed to seeing and using. The curriculum needs to be flexible in its approach and in its methods of engaging learners and measuring student learning. We can achieve this by creating a motivating and engaging learning experience that optimizes student choice and voice, fosters collaboration, provides options for self-regulation, offers alternatives to how curriculum is displayed, and provides options for expression and communication. Students should not have to adapt to the curriculum. The curriculum needs to be able to adapt to the student. 

To learn more about CSA Education’s work with UDL, please email us at info@csaedu.com.

  1. CAST. About Universal Design for Learning, 2020, http://www.cast.org/our-work/about-udl.htm. Accessed 23 Apr. 2020.
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