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Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Thinking Cycle

Click the images below to find our more about each stage of the Thinking Cycle:

Created by Chrissie Butler

What do we know about the people and context?

What's the goal and purpose?

Identify possible barriers to learning in the design

Identify universal supports

Make a plan supported by UDL Guidelines

Teach, evaluate, revise

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Thinking Cycle

Click the images below to find our more about each stage of the Thinking Cycle:

Created by Chrissie Butler

What do we know about the people and context?

What's the goal and purpose?

Identify possible barriers to learning in the design

Identify universal supports

Make a plan supported by UDL Guidelines

Teach, evaluate, revise

Ask yourself,

What do we know about the ākonga?
  • Cultures, languages and identities
  • Connections to place
  • Strengths and passions
  • Prior knowledge and experience
  • Specific needs and preferences
  • What’s on top?
  • Wellbeing and morale

What do we know about the context?
  • Time of day, time in the week
  • Environment: online, F2F, field trip
  • Familiar or unfamiliar activity or setting

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Thinking Cycle

Click the images below to find our more about each stage of the Thinking Cycle:

Created by Chrissie Butler

What do we know about the people and context?

What's the goal and purpose?

Identify possible barriers to learning in the design

Identify universal supports

Make a plan supported by UDL Guidelines

Teach, evaluate, revise

Ask yourself:

  • What is the goal?
  • Why are we doing this?
  • What could success look like?

Can these be co-designed with ākonga?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Thinking Cycle

Click the images below to find our more about each stage of the Thinking Cycle:

Created by Chrissie Butler

What do we know about the people and context?

What's the goal and purpose?

Identify possible barriers to learning in the design

Identify universal supports

Make a plan supported by UDL Guidelines

Teach, evaluate, revise

Ask yourself,

What in our design or the way we teach and communicate could create inequity and discrimination or get in the way of learning?​

Think about possible barriers to: ​
  • engagement and motivation
  • accessing and understanding information ​
  • participating in learning and expressing knowledge.

Click here to see where the barriers might hide

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Thinking Cycle

Click the images below to find our more about each stage of the Thinking Cycle:

Created by Chrissie Butler

Where the barriers might hide in the design of learning:

Our choice of teaching and communication approaches

The design of the assessment

The selection and design of accessible materials and resources on offer

The design of the physical and virtual learning environment

The way goals and purpose are derived and expressed

Potential barriers to learning can be hidden in the choices we make in these five areas.


Barriers are often created when we offer single approaches that don't allow flexibility.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Thinking Cycle

Click the images below to find our more about each stage of the Thinking Cycle:

Created by Chrissie Butler

Where the barriers might hide in the design of learning:

The systemic barriers that exist in the wider system

The design of the assessment

The selection and design of accessible materials and resources on offer

The design of the physical and virtual learning environment

The way goals and purpose are derived and expressed

Our choice of teaching and communication approaches

The culture and relationships within the learning space

Potential barriers to learning can be hidden in the choices we make in these five areas.


Barriers are often created when we offer single approaches that don't allow flexibility.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Thinking Cycle

Click the images below to find our more about each stage of the Thinking Cycle:

Created by Chrissie Butler

What do we know about the people and context?

What's the goal and purpose?

Identify possible barriers to learning in the design

Identify universal supports

Make a plan supported by UDL Guidelines

Teach, evaluate, revise

Ask yourself,
What supports, options and tools can we make available to everyone?

  • Build 1:1 or differentiated approaches and supports into the design?
  • Include approaches that have worked well in the past
  • Include approaches that support wellbeing and belonging, such as kai, music, an organised space, cultural practices.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Thinking Cycle

Click the images below to find our more about each stage of the Thinking Cycle:

Created by Chrissie Butler

What do we know about the people and context?

What's the goal and purpose?

Identify possible barriers to learning in the design

Identify universal supports

Make a plan supported by UDL Guidelines

Teach, evaluate, revise

Make and implement a plan to support learner variability across all 3 UDL principles (Engagement, Representation, Action and expression):
  • Allow what you know about ākonga to influence the design​
  • Address key barriers
  • Build in useful options and universal supports aligned to the 3 UDL principles​
  • Consider how to get feedback.

Use UDL guidelines to identify useful strategies.



Click here to find out more about the UDL guidelines

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Thinking Cycle

Click the images below to find our more about each stage of the Thinking Cycle:

Created by Chrissie Butler

What do we know about the people and context?

What's the goal and purpose?

Identify possible barriers to learning in the design

Identify universal supports

Make a plan supported by UDL Guidelines

Teach, evaluate, revise

Make and implement a plan to support learner variability
  • Allow what you know about learners to influence the design​
  • Address key barriers
  • Build in useful options and universal supports​
  • Organise feedback approaches.

Use UDL guidelines to identify useful strategies

Click here to find out more about the UDL guidelines

Provide multiple means of Engagement

Provide multiple means of Representation

Provide multiple means of Action and Expression

Affective networks:
The 'WHY' of learning


“Can I connect to this learning, is it of value to me, will I be supported to be successful”?

Strategic networks:
The 'HOW' of learning


"Can I participate in this learning experience and have equity of access to tools and activities?
Will I be able to express myself and demonstrate my understanding in ways that work for me?
Will I be supported to plan and manage my learning?"

Recognition networks:
The 'WHAT' of learning


“Can I see myself and the way I communicate represented in the content, materials and approaches? Can I access everything?
Can I use the materials to build understanding in a way that makes sense to me?”

Ask yourself:​
Does the lesson or activity provide options that can help all ākonga:​
  • engage and interest all ākonga?​
  • Sustain effort and motivation?​
  • Regulate their own learning?​

Ask yourself:​
Does the lesson or activity provide options that can help all ākonga:​
  • Access the content and materials?
  • Understand the symbols and expressions?​
  • Reach higher levels of comprehension and understanding?​

Ask yourself:​
Does the lesson or activity provide options that can help all ākonga:​
  • Physically respond and participate in the learning experiences
  • Express themselves fluently?​
  • Act strategically?​

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Thinking Cycle

Click the images below to find our more about each stage of the Thinking Cycle:

Created by Chrissie Butler

What do we know about the people and context?

What's the goal and purpose?

Identify possible barriers to learning in the design

Identify universal supports

Make a plan supported by UDL Guidelines

Teach, evaluate, revise

Ask yourself:

  • What options, universal supports and strategies worked well​?
  • What didn't work so well?
  • What did the feedback highlight?​
  • What will I try next time?