Think of UDL as a Learning Buffet

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CAST, a nonprofit education research and development organization, created the Universal Design for Learning framework in the 1980s.

CAST’s mission is to transform education design and practice until learning has no limits.

I’ve been reading and learning about Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for many years and have often found it difficult to explain UDL to others. I recently came across this 17 minute video created by Allison Posey of CAST, The fundamentals of Universal Design for Learning. It offers two analogies to explain and help us think about UDL. I especially like the analogy of the dinner party buffet. She explains that allowing guests to select the ingredients they want helps them feel more engaged and empowered leading to more strategic thinking about the choices they make.

Another important point made in the video is the emphasis on a learning goal. Defining the goal(s) helps us as educators design our buffet of choices to meet the needs of our learners and, likewise, helps learners make informed choices about how they will engage with the content and express their knowledge and understanding.

Allison concludes by saying, “The UDL guidelines become a tool to help us design our learning buffet.” Find more information about CAST and the UDL guidelines on the website.

Contact the Learning and Applied Innovation team ( if you have questions or are interested in exploring ways to incorporate UDL into your course design.

Sharon Trerise