Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and differentiation are the same.
“The difference between UDL and Differentiated Instruction is that UDL proactively evaluates the classroom instruction and environment and provides access to the content on the front end; differentiated instruction reactively evaluates individual students and retrofits and modifies on the back end.” UDL is a framework that is used to design a lesson and learning environment with the intent to remove barriers. Using the options suggested within the framework, teachers can establish structures and supports to meet students’ variable learning needs. When using the UDL framework, the goal is to design, from the beginning, a lesson or learning environment that can be accessed by all students.
I am using a UDL product or program, therefore I’m doing UDL.
UDL is not a product or something you do. Rather, UDL is a framework supported by research with a specific set of principles and guidelines.
Good teaching is Universal Design for Learning.
There might be good teaching happening already, but it does not mean UDL is being used. One must use the UDL framework and it's principles and checkpoints to be able to inform intentional instructional practices. Specifically, the instructor must reference the UDL framework and apply the UDL principles in order to make decisions, assess, and inform.
Teachers must have technology to implement UDL.
Implementation of UDL can occur without technology. Yes, technology can support learning and be a support, but technology is only one tool. As UDL classrooms focus on flexible learning methods to support learning, teachers can still support student learning with no-tech or low-tech options.
UDL is only for learners with disabilities.
UDL aims to remove barriers to learning and support inclusive teaching practices for ALL learners. Teachers need to consider using UDL in their pedagogy, even if they do not have learners with disabilities in their courses. It is important to remember that those students who vary in age, gender, cultural background, first language, and abilities will also benefit from UDL.
Source: Nelson, L.L. & Basham, J.D. (2014). A blueprint for UDL: Considering the design of implementation. Lawrence, KS: UDL-IRN. Retrieved from http://udl-irn.org.