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Inclusive Design Approaches for Adult Learning

This article focuses on inclusive design methods for adult learning.

This article focuses on inclusive design methods for adult learning and, as a result, deciphers strategies that can be used to ensure that all adult learners receive an education while meeting their necessities. As a method for achieving education for everyone, inclusive learning is the process of improving the ability of the educational system to reach out to all students. Inclusive design involves investing in research and development methods that comprehend and empower people of all experiences and abilities (Tennant, 2019). Ease of access, age, heritage, state of the economy, education, gender, geographical area, dialect, and ethnical group may all be addressed by inclusive design. The emphasis is on meeting as many user requirements as potential rather than simply as many individuals as possible.

At its center, inclusive design is about commiserating with clients and adjusting interactions to meet those users' various requirements. Inclusive design trends are generated by universal design (Kieran & Anderson, 2019). Take the following example of an inclusive-design pattern. The rapid rise in the number of adult learners and a boost in their trend for effective learning has increased the need for high-quality course material intended for the broadest possible viewer of learners. Learning cannot take place without cognitive and physical access to the material. Trying to design for every adult learner introduces three main objectives for curriculum developers and teachers to guarantee content access. It is aimed at those who construct, create, or produce information to mature students.

The methods and tactics for inclusive adult online learning also include increasing demands for adult higher-tier teaching and internet content distribution, which presents both challenges and issues. It is a chance to provide adults with skills valued in the learning environment. It is a significant challenge to provide online course information and delivery that meets the requirements of diversified adult learners. There is proof that using Universal Design for Learning (UDL) precepts improves teaching (Diep et al., 2019). Applying UDL precepts to online adult courses will likely improve course delivery for students. While UDL is not limited to online courses, it is simple to see how the methods can be used in conjunction with innovation.

Three primary principles guide UDL. Educators should provide learners with:

  1. Multiple means of representation
  2. Multiple means of engagement
  3. Multiple means of action and expression (CAST, 2018).

Portraying information in various ways allows learners to choose between display, oral, and auditory modes of perception. Possibilities to stimulate, illustrate, and mentor the implementation of information improve learner understanding.

When learners have multiple options for action and expression, they can choose methods of reply and route planning, as well as building and achievement that enable them to teach more effectively (Vander Hart et al., 2022). Providing various interaction methods allows the learner to choose options according to their preferences to express interest in learning actions, persevere, and self-regulate. Adult students, including those with special needs, have many learning choices for which online teachers should be prepared. According to J. W. Gravel (2018), online classes must meet the requirements of students with special needs and adult learners.

To guarantee adherence, institutional learning techniques can be amended. On the other hand, personal course material created by an online instructor might or might not be subordinate to systemic review (Gargiulo & Metcalf, 2022). It implies that a proactive design method and continuous review are required to ensure all students have quick access to course material. Universal design methods in higher education provide a plan for incorporation. As users of UDL, adult students should be involved in its development. It encourages debate about pedagogical choices and improves access to course content.

Teaching staff in higher education may be perplexed by the connection between individual learner living arrangements and UDL when confronted with the complexities of Universal design execution (Rogers-Shaw et al., 2018). Educators may be unsure how to offer accessibility to students who do not meet the criteria for individual accommodation options but would benefit from increased access to content. According to recent studies, nearly 25% of university students may have a learning disorder that does not necessarily require individual accommodation facilities (Evmenova, 2018). Classes designed using Universal design precepts benefit all students. While low learners and people from low-income families may not be eligible for personal accommodation options, they would benefit from as few obstacles to cognitive content as conceivable.

One instance is in the course materials, where the core concepts of the class are team worker and responses when designing the assessments and exercises. First, before the semester begins, teams are established to include students from various upbringings, skills, and ethnicities (Boothe et al., 2018). To decrease free riding and increase interaction in online environments, the course used various teaching tools to provide ample opportunities for self and social-reflective thinking. Adult students can effectively track their growth and compare it to the progress of others, allowing them to evaluate their current progress (Frumos, 2020). Similarly, educators can use the approach to monitor students' progress and assess the efficacy of the approaches used, allowing them to identify areas for improvement and changes that can be implemented to ensure that students get the most out of the program.

Finally, inclusive methods benefit students because, rather than pulling students out of the learning environment to provide personalized instruction, support is provided in the auditorium in an inclusive setting. It enables adult educators and experts to collaborate in the same educational environment, which benefits all students by providing additional assistance and resources. This assistance frequently leads to more extraordinary achievement for adult learners with special needs and learners without learning difficulties.



Boothe, K. A., Lohmann, M. J., Donnell, K. A., & Hall, D. D. (2018). Applying universal design principles for learning (UDL) in the college classroom. Journal of Special Education Apprenticeship, 7(3), n3.

CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from

Diep, A. N., Zhu, C., Cocquyt, C., De Greef, M., Vo, M. H., & Vanwing, T. (2019). Adult learners' needs in online and blended learning. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 59(2), 223-253.

Evmenova, A. (2018). Preparing teachers to use universal design for learning to support diverse learners. Journal of Online Learning Research, 4(2), 147-171.

Frumos, L. (2020). Inclusive education in remote instruction with universal learning design. Revista Romaneasca pentru Educatie Multidimensionala, 12(2Sup1), 138-142.

Gargiulo, R. M., & Metcalf, D. (2022). Teaching in today's inclusive classrooms: A universal design for learning approach. Cengage Learning.

Gravel, J. W. (2018). Going deep: Leveraging universal design for learning to engage all learners in rich disciplinary thinking in ELA. Teachers College Record, 120(3), 1-40.

Kieran, L., & Anderson, C. (2019). Connecting universal design for learning with culturally responsive teaching. Education and Urban Society, 51(9), 1202-1216.

Rogers-Shaw, C., Carr-Chellman, D. J., & Choi, J. (2018). Universal learning design: Guidelines for accessible online instruction. Adult learning, 29(1), 20-31.

Tennant, M. (2019). Psychology and adult learning: The role of theory in informing practice. Routledge.

Vander Hart, R. J., Wilson, M. T., Schultz Jr, W., & Eden, B. L. (2022). Creating Accessible Online Instruction Using Universal Design Principles: A LITA Guide.

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