5 Tips on Universal Design for Learning

Keeping students engaged in the classroom can be a challenge for instructors and presenters. Jessica Phillips, ODEE Instructional Designer, shared tips on increasing engagement at this year’s EDUCAUSE Conference. Phillips is our resident expert on Universal Design for Learning.

Phillips shared five course design tricks to maximize student interest and activity that every course creator can use:

  1. Plan for differences between students
  2. Give students options or variety in completion of assessments
  3. Present information in multiple ways (videos, articles, demonstrations, etc.)
  4. Make key points stand out
  5. Give students options and variety for how they interact


Universal Design for Learning (UDL) uses design techniques to keep students active throughout a presentation or course. UDL meets the diverse needs of a wide variety of learners, and adapts course materials to accommodate learning disabilities. These techniques help design learning experiences from the student’s perspective. UDL can combat learning barriers and increase learning comprehension, creativity and engagement.

Jessica Phillips, Headshot

 "I realized quickly you can’t always predict who will enter your classroom and what their needs will be ... with this unpredictability in mind leads you to create activities that will serve a wider audience, lead to higher engagement, higher retention, and an overall more personally relevant and positive learning experience" - Jessica Phillips, Universal Design and Accessibility Coordinator.