Designing Inclusive Courses for Diverse Learners: Using Universal Design for Learning Principles


Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a theoretical framework rooted in the neuroscience of learning and use of technology, which can be used by educators to guide the structural design of courses, assessments, and learning environments (Meyer et al., 2014). UDL offers educators flexible guidelines on how to proactively make their course(s) more accessible, useable, and inclusive, regardless of learner diversity, minimizing the need for academic accommodations, while offering the benefits to all learners. As post-secondary nursing education learner diversity has become the norm, it is essential that nurse educators in these settings create an inclusive learning environment to optimize their potential and success. An inclusive learning environment involves offering equitable opportunities for everyone to succeed. Learner success hinges on accessibility to course resources and the comprehension of this material. In this course, nurse educators will explore key concepts and principles associated with the UDL framework, while further establishing how these guidelines can be integrated into the proactive design of a curriculum to support the success of diverse learner populations in post-secondary environments.

Audience: Nurse educators

Delivery: Online (Zoom & Moodle)

Timeframe: 3 weeks




  • Exploration of the content in three course modules on Moodle platform.
  • Participation in three live webinars.
  • Revise an existing course syllabus using UDL principles.


  1. Identify key terms relevant to UDL in post-secondary nursing education: learner diversity, inclusivity, accessibility, disability, and academic accommodations.
  2. Discuss the historical evolution of Universal Design and its expansion into post-secondary education.
  3. Describe the advancement of the UDL theoretical framework developed by CAST (2018) including the three main principles, nine guidelines, and thirty-one checkpoints.
  4. Examine potential learning barriers, within our own organizations, courses, and classrooms, considering both online, and face-to-face learning environments.
  5. Compare the findings from a face-to-face and online case studies of a first-year baccalaureate nursing course redesigned using UDL theoretical principles.
  6. Consider, critique, and select appropriate UDL based strategies to support inclusivity in instruction, assessment, learner resources, and in the classroom environment.
  7. Modify an existing course syllabus using UDL theoretical principles.


$275 CAD for members

$300 CAD for non-members


Ann Celestini RN, BA, BScN, MHST

Lecturer, Trent/Fleming School of Nursing, Trent University


Lilian Chumbley, MA (Learning and Technology)

Systems and Data Analyst, Trent University

Catherine Thibeault RN, PhD

Associate Professor, Trent/Fleming School of Nursing, Trent University

About the course INSTRUCTOR

Ann Celestini is a lecturer at the Trent/Fleming School of Nursing at Trent University. She has over 25 years of experience as a registered nurse in various clinical, administrative, and educational roles.  Her research interests lie primarily in instructional design, curricular development, and distance learning. Through Athabasca University, Ann completed her Masters of Health Studies with a focus in Teaching and is currently finishing a Doctor of Education in Distance Education. Her dissertation explores the integration of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles into a large undergraduate nursing course to support the inclusivity of diverse learne​r needs in an online environment. As a nurse educator, Ann has extensive teaching experience in both theory and clinical courses in all four years of the undergraduate BScN program. In 2021, Ann was honoured to be nominated as part of a co-teaching team by colleagues for the Educational Leadership and Innovation Award and Alan Blizzard Award for Excellence in Collaborative Teaching. In 2020, Ann was invited as a panelist at Trent University to speak about her experiences with UDL and then again regarding her successes in How to Plan for Large Online Courses. Ann felt privileged to be nominated in 2019 for the Symons Award for Excellence in Teaching. As the recipient of the 2019-2020 Wickerson Foundation grant, she led a study titled: A Universal Design for Success: A Mixed Method Case Study of a First-year BScN Course; to capture student experiences of a large face-to-face first-year nursing course which was redesigned using UDL principles to promote a more inclusive classroom environment for all learners. In 2018, with her curricular development expertise, Ann co-led the development of the first graduate-level nursing diploma program in mental health and addiction for the School of Nursing.



  • Registrations that are cancelled up to one week before the start of the course will be refunded minus a $50 administrative fee.
  • Registrations that are cancelled with less than one week’s notice will not be refunded, though the participant will have the option to defer the cost of the course to apply to another CNEI/CASN course.
  • There will be no refunds issued once the course begins.
  • CASN reserves the right to cancel this course if it does not meet minimal group requirements.

Participants are responsible for access to any course materials, including articles and textbooks.

Please see our complete academic policies online at

This course is available in English only.

If you have any questions or would like more information about the course, please contact Don Flaming, Senior Education Coordinator by email at