View Dyslexie font  |  View high contrast
Subscribe to the ADCET newsletter

ADCET UDL Symposium: Fostering Inclusive Learning - Southern Cross Model

The recordings will be added here in late September

Online presentation

Dr Polly Lai, Kelly Hill, Alison Bundock and Ruth Greenaway, Southern Cross University

This presentation introduced a set of standards that delineate specific criteria for the design, development and evaluation of online unit sites. The aim of the Southern Cross Model (SCM) Unit Site Standards is to ensure all units place students at the centre of the design process to foster a meaningful, inclusive educational experience for diverse individuals.  

To establish the underpinning structure for the standards, online learning theories such as Moore's (1989) Three Types of Interaction, Garrison and Akyol's (2013) Online Community of Inquiry, and Biggs' (2011) Constructive Alignment were adopted.

Subsequently, three domains were identified:

  • Domain 1: Teaching presence and communication 
  • Domain 2: Learning materials and activities 
  • Domain 3: Constructive alignment and assessments

The criteria within each domain of the framework were established with reference to the ACODE Benchmarks, the TELAS Framework, Quality Matters and the three pillars of The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines.

For instance, Domain 1 aligns with the first UDL principle as it advocates for establishing relationships through effective orientation and introductions. Domain 2 supports the UDL checkpoints 'Self Regulation' and 'Perception' as it highlights the significance of accessibility and providing opportunities for feedback and reflection. Domain 3 aligns with the third UDL principle as it prioritises learners’ goals and focuses on how the alignment of learning outcomes, activities and assessments can facilitate higher-order thinking skills and knowledge transfer.

By basing the framework on established benchmarks in the sector, the SCM Unit Site Standards contribute to quality, accessibility, inclusivity and usability assurance within online learning environments. The implication is that every student has equitable opportunities to access and interact with the content, enabling them to shape their learning experiences and construct knowledge through interactions with content, educators and peers.


Dr Polly Lai is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Southern Cross University. She has obtained significant research achievements and made significant contributions to learning sciences research in connecting the design of technology-enhanced learning environments with learning outcomes. Her research interests include seeking optimal pedagogical approaches and understanding why they work in an online learning environment for professional development. These include approaches such as Analogical Comparison, Productive Failure, and Agent-Based Modelling.

Dr Lai has published in high-rank journals in Learning and Instruction and Educational Technology. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Associate Editor of the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET).