Online Instructors’ Teaching Practices with the Use of Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The implementation of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in designing and facilitating online learning addresses diverse learning needs and preferences. UDL provides multiple ways for students to engage in learning, various methods to display content, and diverse options to demonstrate knowledge. Integrating UDL into online teaching and learning approaches requires considerable preparation and support. A case study was used to explore online instructor practices for the development of teaching capacity in the design and facilitation of a graduate program based on UDL principles. The following research question guided the investigation: How do instructors develop their capacity to design and facilitate online learning using UDL principles? Multiple stakeholders including instructors, academic leaders, instructional designers, and educational development providers participated in the study. The aim of the research was to provide a holistic picture of the UDL implementation process from preparation through final outcomes. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews and documents. The findings from the study indicated that effective UDL integration requires strong leadership presence to set the stage through having clear vision and strategic plans, ensuring sufficient resources and educational development opportunities are in place, and creating a recognition and reward system. Further, the use of community of practice as an educational development method was a major factor in supporting the development of teaching capacity for the online instructors, thus fostering UDL integration. For example, the online instructors and the Academic Coordinator met regularly to collaboratively design the courses, provide peer feedback, exchange resources, and reflect on their teaching practice. Having such a learning community influenced the instructors’ sense of belonging and satisfaction; accordingly, the instructors were more engaged in the development process. The findings and implications of this study contribute to the body of knowledge regarding UDL integration in higher education context. Meaningful UDL implementation involves thoughtful considerations of what to do before, during, and after the integration.
Higher Education, Online Learning, Building Teaching Capacity, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Community of Practice
Altowairiki, N. (2018).Online Instructors’ Teaching Practices with the Use of Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from