Implementing Universal Design for Learning to Promote Inclusive Learning for Distance Students

Poster Description: The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework will be introduced with practical techniques shared to make online instruction more inclusive. The UDL initiative began in the library and expanded across campus to promote inclusive learning for both distance and traditional students.

Poster: Yotube video available via this link.

Presenter Name: Breanne Kirsch

Presenter Bio: Breanne Kirsch is the University Librarian at Briar Cliff University. Her research areas include universal design for learning and instructional technologies. In addition to her MLIS, Breanne has an M.Ed. and is working towards a doctorate in instructional design and technology. She can be reached at

19 replies on “Implementing Universal Design for Learning to Promote Inclusive Learning for Distance Students”

Thanks Mara and nice to see you here! You are always welcome to send me things. 🙂 Thanks for the link to EBSCO’s accessibility page.

Hi Mara,
It is my life’s goal to dispel learning style myths so I just had to jump in and say that anyone with vision is a visual learner. Learning styles do not exist, just learning preferences.

This is true. Although learning styles do not exist according to the literature, there are certainly learning preferences, which is one of the reasons I like UDL so much. Additionally, there are still plenty of learners with learning disabilities that make different formats important to consider and offer.

Thanks for this presentation! What active learning activities have you found most effective in one shots?

Hi Abby. I have found any kind of pair or group activities to be pretty engaging for students during one shots. Sometimes I use a Boolean candy activity to get students thinking and sharing boolean phrases about their candy with each other and the group. The sugar tends to wake them up and engage them. I’ve also had success with Kahoot quizzes as an entrance or exit ticket.

Hi Bree, How does your candy Boolean terms activity work? That sounds like students would be interested in it.

HI Amy. After showing a short video on Boolean operators and answering any questions that may arise, I have students take a piece of candy (that I provide), eat it, and describe to their neighbors what the candy is without saying what it is and using Boolean connectors, then I have a few share with the entire class. I give the example of a Reese’s saying (“peanut butter” AND chocolate) NOT fruity.

Thank you for this very succinct and engaging overview. I thought it was great how the animals’ different pathways to learning were imagined! I notice on the last slide you talk about a UDL seminar for faculty and how you spread the word across campus. (If there is something additional) I wonder how UDL best practices are shared across librarians in terms of professional development and making sure everyone considers UDL in design and execution in IL instruction?

Hi Joy. Thanks for your question. We are a very small university (2 full-time librarians, 1 tech services/ILL person, and 1 part-time tech services person as well as our student workers). So myself and the other full-time librarian are the ones that consider UDL in design and execution in IL instruction and we team-taught our UDL Academy for faculty last summer and plan to this coming summer. So we are on the same page and bounce ideas off of each other for how to incorporate the UDL principles in our instruction.

Hi Breanne,
During your workshops, are students allowed to choose which active learning activity they do?
Also, I read that you are working on your doctorate for ID, congrats! I’m looking into this myself. What school are you attending?

Hi Darlene. It depends on the context. For our LIBS one-credit courses, we can offer more choice and autonomy of which active learning activities students complete (for example, offering a menu of assignment options for them to choose from). For one shot sessions it’s a bit harder. So for those, time constraints usually cause me to have students complete the same active learning activity (such as posting their boolean search phrases to a Padlet page or completing a worksheet). I try to provide choices when the contextual constraints allow it, but in general students always have a choice over their search topic at the minimum. The nice thing about UDL is that it is a flexible framework allowing for contextual and environmental constraints while still supporting student choice and autonomy when possible.

My instructional design and technology program is a fully online, synchronous PhD program through the Education department at Old Dominion University. It is one of the few that is fully online. Feel free to email me if you have further questions about ODU/my experience in the IDT PhD program.

Bree, very informative! I find I do some of this, but need to be more intentional about offering options. Entrance and exit tickets–can you elaborate? Students have to do something to “earn” their way out?

Hi Jodie- nice to see you here! Entrance and exit tickets can be a short list of questions (usually 2-4 or so) that can help you see what students have questions about that you can focus on during the instruction session OR as formative assessment to check their knowledge of what you covered during the session to see if anything needs further clarification before they leave. The exit ticket can also refresh their memory of what was covered during the session and help students realize if they picked up what you wanted them to pick up from the session. These can be a half page handout with questions for them to fill out, poll everywhere questions, a kahoot gamified assessment quiz, etc.

Greetings from Oklahoma, Bree! Great video! I simply want to give a shout-out to the Okstate Library Youtube video in your presentation. I was full-on Leonardo Dicaprio Pointing Meme-ing it. I use that video in my one-shot research basics lessons. Ha.

Haha, glad you spotted it! Yes, I like to reuse content others have already created when possible to avoid reinventing the wheel. I’ve created some videos, but it’s hard to find time when we are such a small library without a lot of time to devote to creating videos like the Okstate Library has. I am thankful that there are other libraries out there creating awesome instructional content that we can all benefit from!

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