Keynote Blog: UDL; It’s a Win-Win Scenario for All Concerned

Our final day of the UDL conference began with an inspiring keynote by Professor Abigail Moriarty, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students at the University of Lincoln, UK.

We all recognise that Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is the premier educational framework for accommodating and supporting the diverse needs of all students. We’re all on the same page, aren’t we?

In the context of higher education (HE) in the United Kingdom (UK), UDL holds considerable significance for several reasons.

UDL promotes inclusivity by ensuring that all students, regardless of their abilities, can access and actively engage with their learning. By creating a more equitable educational environment, UDL motivates students, leading to enhanced outcomes.

In addition to motivating learners, UDL encourages educators and teachers by fostering a culture of continuous improvement and innovation in pedagogy.

In the UK, institutions are bound by the Equality Act 2010, and UDL supports compliance with these legal requirements.

It’s a win-win scenario for all concerned. In fact, universities that embrace UDL enhance their reputation for inclusivity and student support, boosting student recruitment and retention rates—something that would make any Financial Director smile! So, why is it so *$%@!&# difficult to implement UDL at scale in UK universities?

This keynote speech is a personal and professional UDL journey. Professor Abigail Moriarty, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Lincoln, detailed her path from embracing UDL in her teaching as a new staff member to leading institutional UDL adoption and now having the role and title to make educational transformation underpinned by UDL happen.

The challenges and resistance remain the same at all levels. Professor Moriarty’s presentation highlighted some of the small and big wins of UDL and how these were achieved.

She began by addressing why this conversation is still necessary, despite years of evidence demonstrating that UDL is an effective tool for higher education.

One challenge she explored was the need for systematic changes, sharing her journey through four different university settings.

She emphasised that curriculum principles for all students lead to transformation for all students and that a clear understanding of the fundamentals of teaching is essential.

UDL works best when it is part of the university’s DNA. The key to enabling an embedded implementation is proving the impact and ensuring a strategic approach to bringing the whole university on board from the first point of onboarding.

This work extends beyond the learning space, influencing recruitment and altering all aspects of the university’s operations. UDL is a crucial tool for transformative change, and the UK university sector cannot afford to delay. There are clear, data-driven arguments for the financial benefits of working through UDL principles.

Professor Abigail Moriarty shared her framework for enacting transformative change, concluding with the key idea that UDL is not rocket science. She inspired us all to keep enthusing each other with the passion to drive change.

UDL truly is a win-win scenario for all concerned.

Professor Susie Gronseth : Building Expert Learners through Goal-setting and Formative Feedback: Strategies and an Example from the International Research Experience for Students Program.

A 10 week programme – SMART ( Susie expands this goal with elaboration an define it as specific to the individual student and the context of the work they are adopting.

Supporting goal :

Here Susie shared a table with how the programme objectives were turned to students goal in the projects. Two reflections in the specified weeks of programme and provides journal prompts questions to help the thinking process for the students. How do you develop cultural competence.

Goal setting is a foundational component of UDL, scaffolding provided, and skills of self monitoring encouraged to through design and planned and preparing it with time and space.