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Universal Design for Learning: What Is It And How Do We Learn From It?


Since FEV Tutor's founding 12 years ago, we have made it our goal to continuously evolve and improve our services & platform based on collaboration and feedback from educators, education leaders, and our partner schools and districts throughout the nation. This has facilitated organic growth based on incremental improvement and success in accelerating students' learning outcomes, especially the highest need and special student populations in our partners' academic communities.

Many educators are shifting their thinking to consider new, innovative ways to support learners in multiple forms and expressions with Universal Design for Learning (UDL). As an organization with a social impact mission and a commitment to studying and learning from emerging research and evidence in K-12 Education, we were very curious to learn more about incorporating the UDL Principles and Guidelines into our fundamental product design. 

Universal Design for Learning

The research and development of the Universal Design for Learning, or "UDL," for short, originates with an organization called CAST. On their website, they explain, "Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn."



Using their research in psychology, neuroscience, and evidence-based educational practices, researchers at CAST set out to explore how to use technology to create curriculum, software, and policy that better serves students with disabilities. They concluded that each student brings a different background, set of strengths, needs, and interests to learning, all of which affect their ability to learn. Therefore, these aspects need to be considered when planning curriculum and designing technology to create a learning environment that is equitable and inclusive. 

Our Shift in Framework

FEV Tutor is committed to designing equitable educational opportunities for students that account for and empower every student's different backgrounds and needs. As such, FEV Tutor is shifting to incorporate the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Framework into our curriculum, platform, and assessment design. At FEV Tutor, we believe that these unique learning capabilities should be embraced and developed. By designing our High Dosage Tutoring in line with UDL Principles & Guidelines, we focus on removing barriers to learning through Multiple Means of Engagement.


Kinesthetic Tools

Students and tutors meet in a synchronous 2-way virtual classroom interacting through a series of clickable tools and manipulatives. Tools Include: Pencil, Highlighter, Text, Geometric Shapes, Drag-and-Drop, Symbols, and more!


Auditory Experience

Students can simply plug in a set of headphones to hear their tutor's commentary, explanations, and feedback. Audio is provided through Text-to-Speech technology.


Verbal Experience

Verbal options are available for students who benefit most from interpersonal interaction and talking out loud. Students have the opportunity to speak back to their tutors using a headset or microphone.


Digital Communication

Virtual tutoring sessions provide students the opportunity to improve their digital communication skills. Tutors model exemplary digital communication to set students on the path from typing sentence fragments and acronyms like "idk" to complete sentences and proper grammar.


English Language Learners

Our FEV Tutor platform is based on an English Immersion Model with multilingual site capabilities to guide every student. We have built a Google Translate toggle into the student platform, allowing students to switch the content on the screen from English to their preferred learning language. We can offer tutoring in over 40 languages via this multilingual tool. We also provide support to multilingual families through our bilingual staff on the Family and Student Engagement team.

FEV Tutor's Live 1:1 Online Tutoring has earned the Research-Based Design Product Certification from Digital Promise for having a foundational Evidence-Based Logic Model. We developed this model and methodology based on extensive research related to UDL and evidence-based instructional practices. Stay tuned for more information coming soon about FEV Tutor's latest certification from Digital Promise, the Learner Variability Certification!

Additional Resources