Online Universal Design for Learning Challenge


For this challenge you will redesign an online learning activity, using the three core principles of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework, to create an inclusive online learning environment.


UDL provides useful guidelines for developing curricula, selecting materials and creating learning environments that takes into account the wide variability of learners in higher ed environments.

UDL is a Framework

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone–not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.

The UDL principles are based on the three-network model of learning that take into account the variability of all learners—including learners who were formerly relegated to “the margins” of our educational systems but now are recognized as part of the predictable spectrum of variation. These principles guide design of learning environments with a deep understanding and appreciation for individual variability.

The UDL Guidelines (2012), whose foundation includes over 800 peer reviewed research articles, provide benchmarks that guide educators in the development and implementation of UDL curriculum. These Guidelines serve as a tool with which to critique and minimize barriers inherent in curriculum as educators aim to increase opportunities to learn.


  1. Provide Multiple Means of Representation
  2. Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression
  3. Provide Multiple Means of Engagement

UDL is not a prescriptive checklist or formula with set methods and tools to be applied in every situation. The UDL framework is translational —a means for translating research and innovation into practice—providing guiding principles. From the principles, guidelines are derived for creating and choosing tools, methods, and practices, whose specifics depend upon context: learners’ developmental levels, varied schools and communities, and the proclivities of teachers who are doing the teaching, among many other variables. UDL can help reshape teaching and learning by guiding the design of an entirely new system with flexibility at its core.

Another important consideration in implementing UDL in any learning environment is including the learner in the learning process. Support students to become an “expert” about their own learning. The goal is to find a way into the learning experience, remain persistent in the face of challenge or failure, and continue to build self-knowledge. Encourage students to communicate their learning preferences and needs. Include students in designing better learning environments.

Powerful digital technologies applied using UDL principles enable easier and more effective customization of curricula for learners. Advances in technology and the learning sciences have made “on-the-fly” individualization of curricula possible in practical, cost-effective ways, and many of these technologies have built in supports, scaffolds and challenges to help learners understand, navigate, and engage with the learning environment. However, it is important to note that these technologies should not be considered to be the only way to implement UDL. Effective instructors can be creative and resourceful in designing flexible learning environments that address the tvariability of learners using a range of high-tech and low-tech solutions.

From: UDL ON CAMPUS · Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education

How the Challenge Works

This challenge is designed to help you redesign an online learning activity, using the three core principles of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework.

If you have not learned the fundamentals of online learning, we suggest you complete the Teaching Online Challenge before you take on this challenge.


  • On Monday morning you will receive  an email with the current week’s “learning path”.  Follow the path please. The learning path typically includes:
    •  Short overview of week’s topic
    • Link to a challenge webpage overviewing the week’s topic with extra resources to peruse at will.
    • Link to a worksheet you will copy, complete and change the settings to allow for commenting
    •  Link to upload and upload to the Google + Community.
    • short close of previous week
    • other info


  • Wednesday email to check-in and see how it’s going. Respond to email if you need help.
  • Reminder of Thursday posting deadline
  • Learning path repeated from Monday.
  • Notice of badges issued from previous week
  • Short blurb on week’s topic
  • other info


  • Complete your weekly worksheet by the end of Thursday, and post your results in the Google+ Community.


  • Pau hana email.
  • Thank you for posting worksheet on time.
  • Reminder of Sunday deadline
  • Short blurb on week’s topic
  • other info


  • Deadline to comment on other worksheets (2 minimum comments if you like doing the minimum).
    • Provide further insight into to the participant’s results.
    • Practice improving your online interaction with insightful commenting.

Community Tools

  • Google Groups for Weekly emails
    • Three emails per week that include a learning path to follow, updates and other announcements.
    • Look for the weekly emails to help guide you through the challenge.
  • The Challenge Website
    • Location of weekly content and assignments
  • The Challenge UH Google + Community
    • Location to post weekly Google Document worksheet and comment on other participants documents.
    • Upload worksheet to the Google + community each week.
  • UH Google Documents
    • Location of weekly worksheets you copy, complete and set sharing to allow for comments.

Challenge Schedule

NOTE:  Deadlines are suggested to help create and foster the development of an online community of inquiry. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated. You can submit anytime (we discourage late submissions since you are not in the community) but it is your responsibility to notify the challenge facilitator.

  Challenge Textbook

We suggest you create a login and use the FREE ebook for this challenge. Weekly content form the ebook will be provided on the challenge website. However when you use the ebook you can experience an actual UDL learning environment. You will need to create an account to access the free ebook.

Universal Design for Learning book cover

Content in this challenge is from:

Universal Design for Learning: Theory and Practice 1st Edition