universal instructional design principles

What is Universal Instructional Design?

Almost everyone can agree that individuals learn differently. Learning style differences are formed from various factors, including age, neuro-diversity, socialized gender norms, race, income, geographical location, and much more that we don’t fully understand. These factors lead to learning preferences, such as visual, auditory, or kinesthetic.

All schools, colleges, and universities are full of students who learn differently but are equally capable of absorbing complex concepts and performing tricky tasks. We need educators and corporate training professionals, now more than ever, who are dedicated to providing inclusive, accessible, and flexible educational opportunities so every student can reach their total capacity.

Universal Instructional Design (UID) provides a framework for inclusive teaching, learning materials, and pedagogy. Through this framework, educators ensure all their teaching materials, from lectures to labs and fieldwork, are accessible, usable, and inclusive of all students.

Below we define universal instructional design, what a career as a universal instructional designer looks like, and how individuals can pursue this exciting career path.

What is Universal Instructional Design?

Universal instructional design (UID) utilizes the universal design for learning (UDL) framework, which affords all learners equal access to content and varied opportunities to demonstrate success.

Universal Design for Learning is a teaching strategy that activates learners to be purposeful, motivated, resourceful, knowledgeable, strategic, and goal-directed, regardless of their backgrounds, disabilities, or learning styles.

This strategy offers students multiple means of engagement, representation, action, and expression that recognize the diversity inherent in all students and classrooms through its three principles:

1. The principle of engagement: By focusing on building genuine interest, creating clear goals, and encouraging self-monitoring, the principle of engagement allows teachers and learners alike to create an inclusive and accessible learning environment.

2. The principle of representation: This principle provides flexible multimedia resources to foster and cultivate student comprehension. It also enables students to apply new learning skills to existing materials to build supplementary knowledge and conceptual connections.

3. The principle of action and expression: The principle of action and expression allows students to communicate their learning that plays to their strengths or in the mode of their choice. For example, a student can select their preferred strategy to share their knowledge verbally, visually, or written.

Universal Design for Learning is also instrumental in ensuring all the matters, methods, and activities utilized adhere to the universal instructional design principles:

  • Accessible and fair
  • Flexible
  • Straightforward and consistent
  • Explicit
  • Supportive
  • Minimize unnecessary physical effort
  • Accommodate students and multiple teaching methods


Want to help remove learning barriers for your students? Learn more about Goodwin University’s online, UDL-based Master of Educated in Teacher Leadership program today!


What is a Universal Instructional Designer?

Universal instructional designers are responsible for creating engaging learning experiences for students within schools, businesses, and other institutions. They are passionate about advancing professional learning opportunities for all individuals in their organizations or for all students in their classrooms.

These designers use the science of learning to create content, design how it looks and feels, organize topics, and even add interactivity to achieve learning outcomes and goals. Not to mention that candidates can decide to work with instruction design tools or manage and help others implement these tools and strategies in learning management roles.

As discussed, students and professionals have different learning needs depending on their backgrounds, learning styles, home environments, and more.

Hence, universal instructional designers must do everything they can to accommodate these needs through a variety of methods, including:

  • Different assignment options include video, slideshow, paper, and speech options.
  • Flexible learning environments like quiet, independent work, or group work.
  • Accessible materials, including online and printable worksheets, audiobooks and traditional books, and sharing content in different ways (auditorily or visually).
  • Setting goals for each student.
  • Providing positive and constructive feedback to help students reach their goals and further their learning experience.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that instructional coordinators, which universal instructional designers fall under, make a median annual salary of $63,470 and have an employment growth rate of seven percent by 2031.

That growth rate equates to about 20,900 openings for instructional coordinators each year, making this an in-demand career path, especially as schools and businesses emphasize achievement data.

The Universal Instructional Design Program at Goodwin University

To become an instructional designer, a graduate-level education is recommended.

The Goodwin University Universal Instructional Design graduate certificate program enables candidates to advance professional learning opportunities for all individuals in their organization or school.

Our students learn from expert educators and researchers in the science of teaching and learning. They also collaborate with their peers from various industries to understand how to apply the universal instructional design principles and strategies to their professional practice. All of which ensure you create a flexible learning environment that supports diverse learners.

Our entirely online program includes courses in:

  • Introduction to Universally Designed Learning Experiences
  • Assessment for Learning
  • Engagement for Learning
  • Instruction for Learning

Students learn to develop and implement educational courses and instructional materials to pursue careers in businesses, educational institutions, governmental organizations, healthcare companies, and Pre-K-12 school districts.

Our Universal Instructional Design certificate is perfect for current and aspiring Pre-K-12 educators, higher education instructors, professional development coaches, training and development professionals, and instructional designers looking to become the learning experts employers are looking for.

Furthermore, full-time students can complete the program in as few as two semesters, ensuring you maximize and tailor your education to fit your busy schedule.

Learn more about our Universal Instructional Design program and comprehensive support services that ensure you get through college and into a great career. Financial aid is also available.

There’s no better time to crush your career and personal goals. Apply today!