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Professional Learning Series: Exploring UDL through Cycles of Design, Action, and Reflection

Professional Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), in collaboration with CAST, a nonprofit organization that has pioneered the development of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), now offers a new Professional Learning Series: Exploring UDL through Cycles of Design, Action, and Reflection, where educators will learn the foundations of the UDL framework, apply it to their settings in real time to develop an action plan, and receive personalized coaching and support as they begin to implement UDL into their practice.

UDL Professional Learning Series

To address the remarkable variability among students and across learning environments, educators are increasingly turning to Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL offers a framework for guiding the design of learning opportunities that are inclusive and challenging for all learners.

Finding time to explore, apply, and implement new frameworks and practices can be difficult, which is why we’ve designed a comprehensive yet flexible UDL experience. The progression through the UDL content reflects the process of new initiatives in schools. The learning pathway begins with discovering the content, explored as either an individual, small team, or group. The next step comprises action planning through application in one or a few areas of your specific educational context, transforming into a team-based process — enabling scalable change and shared understanding across a school or system.

The Universal Design for Learning Series is designed for individuals and teams of educators hoping to build toward meaningful practice by learning about UDL and experiencing it as participants. The series includes three coordinated program offerings:

  • Universal Design for Learning: Explore: a three-week asynchronous online workshop in which you’ll learn and begin to apply foundational content, individually or alongside a team or group of colleagues
  • Universal Design for Learning: Apply: a three-week virtual institute where you’ll participate in weekly synchronous online sessions* with the UDL teaching team as you work to refine your UDL action plan, individually or with your team, supported by expert practitioner facilitators
  • Universal Design for Learning: Implement: a twelve-week interactive support network with regular feedback from your dedicated UDL coach to guide your team through the iterative implementation of UDL in your setting

*synchronous online sessions will be recorded and available for viewing on the online course platform.

Full participation in this flexible learning community will enable educators to deepen their understanding and application of UDL; be supported to design and iterate on an action plan that addresses a problem of practice from a UDL perspective; and, receive continuous support in implementing, reflecting on, and refining their action plan. Further, participants will build connections and become a part of a vast virtual community that will support them to grow and sustain their UDL practice into the future.

Who Should Attend

We look forward to collaborating with participants who have a basic understanding of UDL, are eager to deepen their UDL practice, and are motivated to develop into UDL leaders at their schools. Please note that a strong background in UDL is not required to begin this Professional Learning Series.

Individual educators may participate in both UDL: Explore and UDL: Apply. Team enrollment is encouraged throughout the series, and required for the final step of the UDL: Implement program. We strongly advise that teams include a cross-section of stakeholders, including:

  • School staff: teachers, paraprofessionals, instructional leaders, principals, grade level leads, curriculum specialists, department leads, coordinators, and other school and classroom-based leaders
  • District staff: superintendents, chief academic officers, union leadership, instructional coaches, and other district-based leaders
How to Apply

Educators must apply to each offering in the UDL Professional Learning Series separately. The recommended pathway is to participate in all three within the same academic year in order to maintain momentum through the learning and implementation process. However, participants may space out their participation across time as best fits their needs and their availability.

  • If you are an individual, you are welcome to enroll in UDL: Explore and UDL: Apply. If you enroll in UDL: Apply, you will be placed on a “virtual team” with other individuals to receive support from an expert practitioner during the program.
  • If you have a team of at least 3 educators, you may enroll in any of the UDL offerings. There is not a group or team element for UDL: Explore, but you’ll remain together as a team guided by an expert practitioner facilitator during UDL: Apply and by a dedicated UDL coach during UDL: Implement. You may add to your team or form additional teams over time, provided at least 2 team members of each team have participated in the previous step in the UDL series.
  • If you are interested in supporting the participation of educators from your community, you have the option to enroll groups of individuals or groups of teams through our group enrollment process. Click here for more information and to begin this process.

Prerequisites:
To enroll in UDL: Apply or UDL: Implement, participants must have completed the previous step in the UDL series. For UDL: Apply, you must have completed either UDL: Explore, or any of the following CAST-offered prerequisite programs.

Additional Learning Opportunities - CAST

CAST offers a wide range of professional learning opportunities for educators. For more information, visit their website.

Additional Learning Opportunities - PPE

Professional Education at HGSE has a large portfolio of teacher-focused professional learning opportunities, aimed at sharing the research and practice of our HGSE Faculty community with educators from around the world. Visit any of the below program pages to learn more: