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ADCET Webinar: Designing Online Education that Works for All Students - A 7-Step UDL Approach

The number of students with disability in higher education has continued to increase proportionately across universities in the Western world (Kilpatrick et al., 2016). In Australia, it is estimated that 7.3% of domestic students have a disability. This represents an increase in the enrolment share of domestic students with disability by 64.9% over the past decade. It is likely that this increase has been facilitated by new programs aimed at improving the inclusion and full participation of students with disability in higher education (Gale, 2015).

However, research has shown that students with disability are less likely to complete their studies than their non-disabled peers, and, if they do graduate, are less likely to engage in meaningful and competitive employment post-graduation (Kilpatrick, 2016; Equity Challenge Unit, 2014). One way to support the inclusion and participation of students with disability is by incorporating the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) into online learning design. UDL is a framework to improve and optimise teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn ( It is an approach for designing curriculum, learning materials, and learning activities that eliminates barriers to learning (Dinmore & Stokes, 2015). UDL allows students with disability to access courses without adaptation (thus reducing the need for students with disability to disclose their disability), while allowing the coursework to be available in a variety of formats for all students. In principle, UDL is designed to make coursework easier for everyone to access.

In this presentation, Laura and Erin described a seven step UDL approach for designing inclusive and accessible online instruction that meets the needs of diverse learners, including students with disability and they shared illustrative examples from their own practice.

Audience: TAFE and University Lecturers and Teaching Associates, Learning Designers


Erin Leif photo

Dr Erin Leif is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst and Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education, Monash University. Erin’s research involves the exploration of strategies for building the capability of educators to deliver inclusive instructional practices. She has a special interest in evaluating strategies for designing inclusive and engaging online learning spaces. Erin has incorporated the principles of universal design for learning into her own teaching for the past several years.

Laura Alfrey photo

Dr Laura Alfrey is currently Course Leader for the Bachelor of Education (Health and Physical Education) within the Faculty of Education at Monash University. Laura's research focuses on Health and Physical education (HPE), sport and physical activity contexts, and the ways which policy, professional learning and practice contribute to inclusive and educative experiences for young people.

Questions and Answers not discussed during the webinar

Q    How do you manage repetitive information - e.g. getting started book plus syllabus? Does having it in more than one place help or hinder?
A    Our context may be unique but we do not have a syllabus or unit guide, our Moodle is the only space where unit information is communicated. I think you are right, it's best to have clarity around where key information can be found (and avoid repetition).
Q    Do you find the Moodle forum or something more easily accessed such as padlet  works better for the get-to-know-you?
A    A few thoughts here. Firstly, I would say it depends on the year level, and how comfortable they are with each other (and you) - Padlet is anonymous and usually better for first year students. For the later years, I find Moodle best for asynchronous (monitored, counted in analytics, and can be more easily returned to at a later date) and Padlet for synchronous (variety of platform/engagement and we can see all posts at the same time).
Q    I’d like to add that the size of student cohort matters as well. Padlet won’t the most effective tool if you have large student numbers in the unit (eg 400-1000).
A    Indeed. I usually have one padlet per class, but with cohorts of 1000 that would be a challenge.
Q   For live lectures, is there a software that is more accessible? Ie Zoom Webinar or MS Teams Live, etc?
A   The live transcriptions in Teams is the most accurate at the moment.
Q    We have trouble getting students (and staff!)  to engage with Moodle discussion forums... any hints?
A    You could embed in assessment (e.g. post and respond once weekly for a 10% grade)? Or embed it within class as an activity (online or remote)?
Q    The first slide mentioned Quality Matters. Is that an organisation you would recommend?
A    We found the rubric really useful as a tool to assess accessibility.

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