Universal Design for Learning (UDL):

  • is a framework for instruction that considers the diversity of all learners within the lesson design and lesson delivery so as to facilitate student engagement.
  • provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials (e.g., various media technologies and assistive technology), and assessments that work for everyone; flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs rather than a one-size-fits-all solution
  • gives all individuals equal-access opportunities to learn. Students learn in a variety of ways and benefit from having a variety of learning formats, flexible assessments, and tools to help them organize new knowledge and skills
  • empowers students to become independent, confident learners

Student engagement is at the core of learning. Engagement in learning occurs when students are provided with opportunities to become more invested in their learning.

This is critical when planning and implementing learning experiences. Effective instruction engages, embraces, and supports all learners through a range of learning experiences that are both age and developmentally appropriate. Universal Design for Learning is the intersection where all fundamental pieces and best practices come together.
Differentiated instruction addresses the diverse range of learners in the classroom by tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. Differentiation characterizes how a teacher addresses an outcome or teaches a concept, when that teacher has both the flexibility and the understanding of students sufficient to be responsive to their needs. It occurs in classrooms where the climate is safe and inclusive. Educators vary the learning activities and tasks, the instructional strategies, the content demands, the resources, and modes of assessment to meet the needs and support the well-being, development and academic achievement of each child. 

One or a number of the following elements can be differentiated in any classroom-learning situation:

  • the content of learning (what students are going to learn, and when)
  • the process of learning (the types of tasks and activities)
  • the products of learning (the ways in which students demonstrate learning)
  • the context/environment of learning (where students learn and demonstrate learning)