Skip to content

Universally Designed Learning Environments

The context and environment determine what is learned and how it is learned. Therefore the classroom, furniture, arrangement of that furniture, and display screens/boards establish a particular learning environment. Universally Designed Learning Environments (UDLE) are learning environments which embrace the diversity of the learners in every course.

Factors to Consider

  • Access to the physical space (Americans with Disabilities Act)
  • The learning space
      • Physical
        • Comfort - temperature, lighting, noise, seating arrangements,
        • Accessibility - movement pathways, ability for students to see and hear, etc.
      • Virtual  (online courses)
        • Highly interactive - synchronous and asynchronous, multiple options for interaction/communication
        • Multi-tasking - different devices, different roles, different virtual locations
  • Classroom social/emotional climate (welcoming and safe for all)
      • Comfortable sharing ideas and opinions
        • Transitions from brainstorming toward conclusions/perspectives
      • Encourages and supports engagement
      • Classroom management strategy
      • More on Classroom Climate – Cornell University
  • Course interactions (in and out of class)
      • Communication language, tools and strategies
        • Mapping discussions, thought pathways and decision-trees
      • Grouping options (individual, pairs, small groups)
      • Presentation materials and resources are usable, multi-format, transitional and relevant
  • Learning experiences
      • Student-centered, adaptable and meaningful
      • Organized to be flexibility/adaptability
      • Embraces student choice
      • Integrates authentic learning experiences
      • Multiple formats and opportunities for engagement and expression
  • Assessment activities and tools
      • Multiple formats
      • Matched to learning goals
      • Valid and reliable
  • Technologies and technology use/availability
      • Learning management system
      • Multiple representations of information
      • Social and learning support mechanisms
  • Instructor
      • Location and time in class
      • Movement/proximity
      • Accessibility in and out of class
      • Language and terminology used
      • Student interactions and support
      • Connecting With Your Students – Cornell University

Pertinent Resources

Last Published: Mar 12, 2021