Presenting Content in Multiple Formats
A Universal Design for Learning approach

Presenting Content in Multiple Formats

by Heather Leslie

Presenting content in multiple modalities follows the principles of Universal Design for Learning. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) seeks to design a learning environment that is accessible by all students, hence the term universal. Educators can build lessons that are educationally accessible to all students. Students have different learning preferences such as auditory, kinesthetic, or visual (or a combination). Students also bring with them multiple intelligences such as interpersonal, intrapersonal, musical, or existential among others (Gardner, 1983). UDL is based on brain research that addresses how learners make sense of presented information, how they are engaged and motivated by learning, and how they express their understanding of the learning. UDL is comprised of three principles: 1. Representation is how educators present information to reach all students. 2. Engagement is how educators motivate and encourage all students to participate in learning. 3. Action, or Expression, relates to how students demonstrate what they know (The National Center on Universal Design for Learning, n.d.).

Content can be presented in different ways that appeal to diverse learner preferences and include variations in audio, visual, and kinesthetic elements. For example, having the same content presented as text-based reading, video, audio lecture, and an interactive eLearning module can add variety in the ways learners choose to consume the content which can increase learning engagement (Cramer, 2007). Learners can pick and choose which materials to review which gives the learner choice and freedom, as a choose-your-own-adventure approach, that can result in more self-directed learning and motivation due to self-determination (Merriam & Bierema, 2014; McDonald & Yanchar, 2005).



Cramer, S. (2007). Update your classroom with learning objects and Twenty-First Century skills. The Clearing House, 126-132.

Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiples intelligences. New York, NY: Basic Books.

McDonald, J. Yanchar, S.C., & Osguthorpe, R.T. (2005). Learning from programmed instruction: Examining implications for modern instructional technology. Educational Technology Research & Development, 53(2), 84-98.

Merriam, S. & Bierema, L.L. (2014). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

The National Center on Universal Design for Learning. (n.d.). What is UDL? Retrieved from The National Center on Universal Design for Learning: