Universal design in online education: a systematic review

June 30, 2024 Off By JR

As online education becomes increasingly in demand, we need to continue to consider and evaluate how we can make learning accessible for all students. A recent systematic review sheds some light on how integrating Universal Design (UD) in online learning environments can be applied to create a more inclusive educational experience. The study focuses on applying UD within higher education and highlights a noticeable gap in K-12 settings. This suggests a critical need to extend the benefits of UD to younger learners who are equally part of the growing digital education landscape. The reviewers found that both instructors and students respond favorably to the implementation of UD principles, once educators are properly acquainted through in-depth training. Instructors appreciate the enhanced teaching methods that UD offers, while students enjoy the increased accessibility and engagement within their courses.

Highlights of the findings include:

  • Increasing publications, particularly in higher education. Limited application in K-12 settings.
  • Instructors initially lack detailed knowledge but appreciate UD post-training. Learners respond positively, noting the benefits of accessibility and course engagement.
  • Strategies include varied means of engagement, representation, and action/expression, often leveraging digital tools for inclusive education.
  • Enhanced instructor confidence and skill, improved student engagement and accessibility, and broader applicability across diverse learner demographics.
  • Challenges include the complexity of integration, lack of instructor training, and the need for more comprehensive adoption in course designs.