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UDL Symposium: 2F. Adapting UDL for your context - Designing for Diversity

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Interactive workshop

Using the combined experience of educational designers in collaboration with unit coordinators, this workshop explored implementing and scaling uptake of universal design for learning (UDL) in the University of Sydney context. These teaching teams have been working iteratively on improving their student learning experience by adopting UDL principles to re-design elements of their units and consultative practices. The participants of this workshop were taken through the 5 steps in their journey to design for diversity. These might be understood as five core questions educators need to ask themselves:

  • Who are your learners?
  • What are the learning goals?
  • What are the barriers to learning (and how can these be framed in terms of the learning environment rather than the student)
  • What solutions could be implemented remove barriers?
  • How will you evaluate and iterate?

For each step, the workshop facilitators quickly went over how their team approached the challenge, showing the similarities and differences in the way each re-designed aspects of their teaching and Canvas sites. Participants then asked questions while reflecting and discussing these steps in addressing their own learning and teaching challenges.

In promoting designing for diversity this workshop aimed to showcase how the principles of UDL can be adapted for your context in order to remove barriers to engagement and understanding, and to facilitate and promote cross institutional uptake.


Dr Ella Collins-White is an educational designer at the University of Sydney, working on the designing for diversity project and specialising in universal design for learning. As an academic, Ella has taught across a range of subjects, receiving commendations for cultivating a practice of inclusive teaching and collaborative learning. She enjoys weird and innovative novels, exploring this in her PhD, Keeping the Novel “Novel”: Reading Embodied, Borderless and Untranslatable Experimental Fiction, which unpacked the powerful rhetorical capacity of literature to communicate and persuade when audiences are invited by authors to co-participate in the creation of the textual world.

Sarah Humphreys is an Educational Design Manager with the University of Sydney’s Educational Innovation Team. She leads the implementation of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) at the University in response to the University’s strategic plan that outlines a commitment to transformational, student-focused education that embraces equity, diversity and inclusion. Sarah’s background is in teaching, inclusive education and curriculum development. 

Dr Samantha Poulos is an educational designer at the University of Sydney working on the designing for diversity project. Samantha is a feminist literary theorist with a background in first year teaching and working to develop inclusive teaching practices and student engagement. Building on their PhD "'Who cares about pretty?': Examining the construction and performance of femininity in Young Adult literature" Samantha draws on this expertise in queer and gender theory to inform their teaching pedagogy which works to develop creative, inclusive and safe spaces.

(September 2023)