What is Universal Design for Learning & how does Jamworks aid UDL?

Universal design for learning (UDL) is a well-recognised framework for developing inclusive and accessible learning environments. This approach enables educators to anticipate and remove barriers to learning for all students, regardless of their ability, existing knowledge, or unique characteristics. Using a proactive approach, UDL welcomes student diversity and tackles the standard one-size-fits-all curriculum. 

Educators can use UDL principles to develop flexible learning pathways, using a multitude of methods, assessments, and materials. These principles can be integrated with technology to allow educators greater opportunities for engaging all of their learners. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the principles and guidelines behind universal design for learning, and how assistive technology, like Jamworks, can play a key role in developing accessible learning experiences. 


What is Universal Design for Learning?

Universal design for learning is a theoretical framework developed by CAST, a nonprofit for education research and development. It is rooted in scientific insights that outline how humans learn, especially the role that individual differences play in learner’s responses to their learning environment. 

The framework features three core principles that align with networks in the human brain. According to modern neuroscience, the learning brain is made up of the:

  • Recognition network that defines the “what” of learning.
  • Strategic network which establishes the “how” of learning.
  • Affective network that is responsible for the “why” of learning. 


Core Principles of Universal Design for Learning 

Using these insights, UDL highlights three key areas for learning that educators can focus on. The three principles of the framework are:



Students need multiple means of representation to understand what they are learning. This allows students to choose how they access their learning materials. Educators can present information in a variety of ways, which can include visual aids, supporting materials, and assistive technology. Flexible learning materials can emphasize critical learning points and activate students’ background knowledge for effective representation of the learning content. 


Action and Expression 

How can students demonstrate their learning? This principle helps educators consider multiple ways for students to express their knowledge. A flexible approach with multiple means of assessment, feedback, and support can highlight the skills and strategies students use in their learning. Students might have physical, cognitive, or communicative barriers to learning, and require different means of action and expression to demonstrate their knowledge. 



Motivation and engagement play a key role in effective learning and give students the why behind their learning. UDL proposes that educators provide multiple options for engagement to keep students interested, focused, and motivated. Educators can do this by offering learners more autonomy, varying levels of challenge, and relevant feedback for growth. In addition, students can benefit from developing the right beliefs, expectations, coping skills, and strategies for being a motivated learner.

UDL further breaks these three core principles down into nine guidelines, and various checkpoints to guide educators through inclusive lesson planning. 


Benefits of Universal Design for Learning 

Empowers Educators

The UDL framework helps educators anticipate and minimise barriers for all students early on. This allows them to meet the needs of students who have special educational needs, but also reach all learners in their classroom. Educators can design flexible learning pathways, while still meeting curriculum goals, and accounting for the variability of their students. 


Beyond Accessibility 

UDL is not limited to improving the accessibility of education for students. Instead, it aims to ensure students are supported and challenged. Learners can not only access their learning, but also benefit from varied options to express their knowledge and to feel engaged. This provides genuine learning opportunities for students and allows them to meet learning goals. 


Expert Learners

This framework recognises that students have different abilities, strengths, needs, interests, and unique backgrounds and experiences. From their home environments to their own personal characteristics, each student will vary from one another. UDL considers this variability and allows educators to design learning pathways that develop expert learners. That is, students who can be purposeful, resourceful, and engaged learners with goals and strategies. 


Enhancing Universal Design for Learning with Technology 

Research has shown that technology can offer more options for choice and variation in learning environments. Using the principles of UDL, educators can harness the power of technology to provide more individualized support. This can lead to rich and engaging experiences that optimise teaching and learning. 

Assistive technology (AT) is known to remove barriers to learning for students, by providing alternative means of representation of learning materials. For example, speech-to-text software, or text-to-speech software improve the accessibility of content. AT can also enhance student engagement by offering students more autonomy, with tools for mind mapping, planning, and reading. 

Generally, AT is known for improving the learning experience of individuals with special educational needs. However, all students can benefit from alternative ways to learn, study, and revise. Technology supports the role of UDL in crafting flexible learning experiences and raises more opportunities for educators.


Jamworks: AI-Powered Assistive Technology for UDL

Jamworks, an assistive note taking tool, is the perfect example of how technology can aid UDL-based learning experiences for all. This powerful note taking software is designed with inclusive and accessible learning in mind.

Using the power of AI, Jamworks automates the note taking experience for students and transforms their learning content into interactive study materials. The core features of this tool align with the principles of universal design for learning, making it easier for educators to meet all their students’ diverse needs. 


Jamworks and Universal Design for Learning 


Jamworks offers students multiple means of representation using multimedia notes. Using the latest AI, Jamworks records and organizes learning content into key highlights, which offers a seamless and automated note taking experience. Students can access live captions, and later revisit their content in a wide variety of formats. Jamworks turns highlights into audio chapters, captioned video clips, word-for-word transcripts, and AI-powered summaries. 

As an assistive note taking software, Jamworks also offers a range of accessibility adjustments, such as customisable text size, screen reader compatibility, keyboard navigation, and pre-built profiles for students with differing needs. These are just a few of the features that enable students to use Jamworks. 


Action and Expression

Just like the UDL framework, Jamworks goes beyond making learning simply accessible. Students can demonstrate their learning and check their knowledge using Jamworks’ AI-powered learning features. First, Jamworks offers students AI-generated flashcard quizzes that link back to their original learning materials. Students can test their knowledge, and revise the content using multimedia notes. 

Second, Jamworks offers a personalized tutor chatbot known as JamAI, which is trained exclusively on students’ learning materials. This offers students a safe, wall-guarded experience to express and demonstrate their knowledge. JamAI can summarize, explain, simplify, or expand upon the captured learning content.

Students can use JamAI to explore and interact with their learning materials, and seek feedback to facilitate their understanding. This kind of individualized and accessible support can enhance learning for all students, and help them develop their skills and strategies for learning. 


Student Engagement  

Jamworks is an all-in-one tool that can create a personalized and accessible learning experience for all students. This software minimizes many barriers for students, allowing them to focus on learning without worrying about organization or generating effective study materials. Instead, students can explore and interact with their learning content with ease. 

This can help students feel more engaged and motivated to learn by providing more autonomy in their learning. Jamworks presents alternative ways for students to understand, study, and revise, and receive feedback which can help them feel more empowered and encouraged. Students can also use Jamworks with no prior specialized training, making it easy to access an enhanced and tailored learning experience. 


If you’d like to view an example of Jamworks’ AI powered interactive notes – click here.

To discuss how Jamworks could aid Universal Design for Learning at your college or university – click here to arrange a personal product walkthrough.

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