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UDL Versus DI

UDL Versus DI

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, you will learn compare and contrast Universal Desin for Learning and Differentiated Instruction.

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In this tutorial we'll examine the similarities and differences between universal design for learning and differentiated instruction. You may be inclined to think that if you are already implementing differentiated instruction, then you are already also incorporating universal design for learning. This is not the case, however. While there are similarities between the two methods, there are also some notable differences. We'll identify some of the differences in these two methods, in particular the student impact and the differences in the planning process.

And then we'll note some of the similarities between the two methods. Let's get started. First, how does each of these methods impact students in the classroom? Well, universal design for learning has a universal impact. Since any potential modifications and accommodations are incorporated as part of the planning process, all students will have access to these variations. This means that all students, regardless of their individual needs, interests, or ability levels, may find some benefits in the particular construction of both curriculum and instruction.

Differentiated instruction, on the other hand, is focused on individual students and their particular needs. As a result, the accommodations and modifications may only be available to those select students. There are also some differences in the planning that goes into incorporating universal design for learning and the planning associated with differentiated instruction. In universal design for learning, any modifications and accommodations are embedded within the goals, the instructional methods, and the curricular materials that are implemented in the classroom.

All of these elements have the potential to be customized based on a careful consideration of student needs. In differentiated instruction, individual elements of the content, process, and products may be modified so that they appeal to student interests, readiness, and student profiles. Though we've identified some differences between UDL and differentiated instruction, there are some similarities in the two methods as well. First and foremost, the goal of both methods is to help all students achieve to their highest potential.

Both methods aim to facilitate student access to high quality content, instruction, and learning. Both methods focus on the what, the why, and the how of learning. UDL accomplishes this through the principles. And differentiated instruction does so through specific changes in content, product, and process. Both models provide for flexibility. In other words, teachers work to meet students individual needs through flexible approaches to curriculum and instruction.

In this tutorial we noted differences between UDL and differentiated instruction in terms of student impact and the planning process. We also identified several similarities between the two methods, most notably that both methods aim to provide support for all students in order to help them achieve the maximum learning possible. Here's a chance for you to stop and reflect. If you are already implementing elements of differentiated instruction, were you able to identify the differences between differentiated instruction and UDL?

To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the additional resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material. Thanks for joining me today. Have a great day.

Notes on "UDL Versus DI"

(00:00 - 00:38) Introduction

(00:39 - 01:19) Student Impact

(01:20 - 01:56) Planning

(01:57 - 02:42) Similarities

(02:43 - 03:02) Review

(03:03 - 03:33) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

Montgomery County Public Schools: Universal Design for Learning FAQ

This is a useful FAQ sheet on comparing UDL and differentiated instruction as well as other teacher resources. This fact sheet provides a useful snapshot for teachers when planning with UDL in mind.

Universal Design for Learning and Differentiated Instruction: Resolving Competing Mandates of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and No Child Left Behind 

This article includes strategies on using both UDL and differentiated instruction to meet the needs of all learners. This article is based on personal interviews, and the authors offer caution about generalizing the findings. Still, the article serves to provide practical ideas around meeting the needs of students in light of given mandates.