What about UDL vs Differentiated Instruction?

As I think about the differences in UDL and DI, I am reminded of the part of the video we watched where Katie Novak talked about DI have the focus on the teacher and the planning or assessments she has the student participate in vs UDL where the student makes his or her own choices to show what they are learning and what they chose to work on.  “DI recognizes that learners differ in factors such as culture, learning style, and gender. In order to address those differences, teachers need to approach each student by their unique readiness, interest, and learning profile.(CAST, 2013)” gluten free, vegan, dairy free labels

This description in the article along with the video, made me think of planning for a dinner party as an analogy for DI and UDL planning for a course. If you are thinking like someone using DI to plan the party, you might assess each guest by asking about food allergies and giving each guest a specific plated meal according to their food preferences or allergy. (Have you ever seen these kinds of labels at a banquet meal?)

In comparison, I think the UDL dinner party would plan for a variety of guests by serving options that are vegetarian, gluten free, vegan and dairy-free on a buffet. This way each guest could make choices according to their own diet or appetite.buffet options Everyone achieves the same goal of having a yummy meal, however the combination of what each person eats can be unique. Also, you don’t have to disclose your food preferences to the host in the buffet model.

In the classroom, the UDL approach allows for each student to be empowered to make some choices for themselves, but in the differentiated model it appears that the teacher already knows what might work for you based on prior assessments and so that method is chosen for by the teacher for the student.

I think the UDL method provides more opportunity for instructors to plan for a diverse set of learners without knowing exactly what makes each individual diverse. The focus is on the goal and the path to the goal can be varied by the learner.


Article: UDL Intersections – National Center On Universal Design for Learning

Image credits:Place cards imageBuffet food choice image


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