Universal Design for Active Learning (UDAL)

What is Universal Design for Active Learning? (UDAL)

UDAL is UW Bothell Universal Design for Learning initiative. It comprises principles, research and best practices of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) with added emphasis on learner engagement and flexible learning environments, both digital and physical. UDAL is being integrated in faculty development, student support materials, online and hybrid course design, classroom design and faculty learning communities.

UDAL promotes:

  • Equitable access to electronic materials
  • Use of best practices in course design and pedagogies
  • Active learning and engagement

UDAL at UW Bothell

Andreas Brockhaus, Director of IT digital learning at UW Bothell, coined the acronym UDAL (Universal Design for Active Learning) in 2016 as a UW Bothell effort to integrate Universal Design for Learning principles in supporting student active learning and engagement.

UW Bothell UDAL Core Team

Leading this UDAL effort is a core group comprised of:

  • Rosa Lundborg, Academic Services-Assistant Director (Student Affairs/DRS)
  • Ashley Magdall, Web Support Specialist (Advancement & External Relations/Web Communications)
  • Ana Thompson, Learning & Access Designer (IT Digital Learning)

UDL, Accessibility and Active Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

UDL is a framework that uses “research-based set of principles to guide the design of learning environments that are accessible and effective for all” (Cast.org website).

Universal Design for Learning is used to design courses and content that provide an inclusive environment for our all of diverse students as well as use neuroscience principles to educate strategic, empowered and independent learners. You can access the Getting Started page for more information and access vast resources of UDL research evidence.

The following short video created by the Boston College Center for Teaching Excellence highlighting UDL principles and how to apply them in a higher education setting.


What do we mean by accessibility?

An accessible product or service is one which can be used by all its intended users, without any accommodation. Accessibility starts with understanding that a user’s ability to create and perceive content may be limited. The limitation can be either permanent or temporary and may be due to various physical, mental, or environmental conditions. A thoughtful, intentional approach to designing courses and learning materials attempts to remove barriers arising from such limitations.

In education, we usually think of being compliant to the law requirements and providing students with disabilities reasonable accommodations that affords equal access to course content, learning activities, assessment, and other aspects of the student experience. For instance, a student with impaired hearing may be accommodated by providing captioned videos and transcripts to audio files. Or a student with dyslexia may be accommodated by using an app to read assigned articles. But this is not enough.

To support the UW mission of equity, diversity, excellence, innovation and respect, we must strive to create content that is universally accessible from the start. This is everyone’s responsibility.

To learn more about accessibility at UW Bothell, go to our accessibility website.

Active Learning

Active learning is an instructional model which focuses on having the students be an active part of the learning experience, rather than a passive listener as with a traditional lecture. This can be done by inserting individual and group activities during class time in between lecture pauses. It can also be done by flipping the classroom, where students watch videos of the lecture, read materials and then go to class to work on activities and homework.

UDAL brings together the best of accessibility, universal design for learning and active learning so learning is encouraged, supported and maximized for our diverse learners.