Penn State University

Teach to Reach with Universal Design for Learning

Teach to Reach with Universal Design for Learning is a free, non-credit, and entirely asynchronous online course conducted in Canvas in four weeks. This project-based course is typically offered each Fall and Spring. Participants draw upon their own teaching or learning design experience and their existing, basic understanding of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to generate and respond to discussions, create an instructional activity inspired by UDL, and provide feedback on their peers’ activities. Participants will also receive feedback from the course facilitators, who are experienced UDL practitioners. Those who successfully complete the course may be invited to submit their UDL-enhanced activities as exemplars for future Schreyer Institute courses and events.

Participant Eligibility

Teach to Reach is open to faculty of any rank or status, teaching assistants, and post-doctoral instructors and members of the learning design community with existing teaching or learning design experience and a basic understanding of UDL. The course is not designed to meet the needs of first-time instructors/designers nor those without a basic understanding of UDL.

Teaching/learning design experience is defined as developing and implementing instructional plans and/or materials to reach multiple learners at once. For Teach to Reach, the following are examples of such experience.

  • Served as an instructor, co-instructor, or designer for a course, including college or K-12 courses (in-person, online, or hybrid)
  • Served as a teaching assistant responsible for planning and leading a lab or discussion section for a course (in-person, online, or hybrid)
  • Developed and delivered outreach or faculty development programs for groups of learners (e.g., extension service, informal learning courses, teaching and learning workshops, educational technology trainings)

Those without such teaching experience do not meet the requirements for Teach to Reach.

A basic understanding of UDL is defined as pre-existing knowledge of the framework's principles and checkpoints and their interconnections with other effective teaching and learning practices. Those without such knowledge should first take first take OL 3600: Universal Design for Learning or contact the lead course facilitator to discuss course fit. For information about OL 3600, visit Penn State World Campus Online Faculty Development's list of upcoming courses.

Course Objectives and Topics

Teach to Reach participants will attempt the following objectives.

  • Identify a barrier to learning and propose a UDL-inspired way to reduce it.
  • Apply UDL principles and checkpoints to a lesson plan, in-class or homework activity, or assignment.
  • Plan for learner variability and accessibility in designing a lesson plan, in-class or homework activity, or assignment.

Course topics include identifying common barriers to learning, learner variability, accessible learning design, and UDL-inspired teaching and assessment strategies that engage and motivate learners to help them become persistent, self-regulated, and goal-directed learners.

Course Structure and Assignments

This is not a self-directed course. Teach to Reach provides a structured but flexible means to engage in hands-on, individual activities specific to each participant’s instructional context and to exchange ideas about teaching, learning, and implementing UDL. It is divided into four online modules asynchronously conducted in Canvas, each of which may take between one and three hours to complete.

The course content consists of readings and videos, all of which are available online, in Canvas, or through Penn State Libraries; online discussions; examples of UDL; a project applying UDL to an instructional activity with a corresponding assessment; a peer edit of that project; and substantive, online interactions with other participants and course facilitators.

Professional Development Benefits

SITE awards a completion certificate to participants who successfully complete all online discussions, the peer edit, and the course project. While this course does not serve as a formal, credit-bearing certification process, it does provide you with documentation of your participation it. This certificate may be included in your teaching portfolio or annual review as evidence of your professional development.

Course Facilitators

  • Mary Ann Tobin, Lead Teach to Reach Facilitator, Associate Research Professor & Instructional Consultant, Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence
  • Lauraine Hawkins, Assistant Professor, Biology, Penn State Mont Alto


Teach to Reach is offered each fall and spring. See our events page for specific dates. Enrollment is limited to 20 participants on a first-come, first-served basis. Participants will be notified via email approximately one week prior to the start of the course. Information about how to apply will appear in this page sometime in August.


Direct questions about Teach to Reach to


Penn State University