Using UDL Principles to Create a Syllabus 

An image of two students sitting on a desk. One student is writing on a paper. The other student has a computer on her desk and a teacher is pointing to her computer as he stands next to her.

As FIU Online Insider continues the UDL mini-series, this article will be supporting you with the best tips in creating a syllabus with a Universal Design for Learning framework.  

A syllabus provides students with the first impression of an upcoming learning environment. Therefore, it is important to recognize the syllabus as an inclusive roadmap for students. Taking into consideration the UDL framework, the syllabus can provide multiple means of engagement, action, expression, and representation.  

Provide multiple means of engagement 

A great way to engage students is by developing a personal introduction for your course. Instructors can upload a photo or video and share information on the course and the expectations. 

Additionally, it can be helpful to create a virtual tour of the course by sharing a screen recording of the Canvas site. Developing a virtual tour as a walkthrough of your course can allow you to share your course purpose, outline, and further support you will be providing students.  

An image of a professor recording themselves explaining a sheet of paper they have on their hand.

Provide multiple means of action and expression 

Use the syllabus to develop an expected routine for the semester. Including a Weekly Calendar allows students to recognize the format of assessments, assignments, and other activities that they are expected to complete.  

Within this calendar, incorporate opportunities that allow students to demonstrate learning in different ways. This can include videos or presentation submissions in place of written assignments when appropriate. Providing different outlets gives all students an opportunity to organize their own learning as well as express themselves through a format that is best fit for them.  

Provide multiple means of representation 

When possible, offer multiple forms of instructional material for your students. This can include PowerPoints, PDFs, and relevant videos. It provides students with different opportunities to access the content in the course.  Additionally, emphasize where students can access additional resources and information for your course.  

Using UDL in the development of your syllabus provides a variety of options to share the information that will be presented within the course. It creates an accessible and supporting environment at the start of your class.  

You are welcome to review our Introduction to Universal Design for Learning article, to get an overview of the framework. 
FIU instructors may request more information by opening case ticket through FIU Canvas Help

Cora Fernandez is an Instructional Designer with FIU Online at Florida International University. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in 2015, and a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction in 2018 from FIU. Previous to working at FIU Online, she was employed as the Undergraduate Office Specialist in the English Department and later as the Writing and Rhetoric Office Specialist. Also, she has taught First Year Experience, SLS1501. Teaching this course allowed her to gain experience as a facilitator in a hybrid setting. Currently as an Instructional Designer at FIU Online, she assists faculty in developing courses and earning Quality Matters certification.

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