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Blended Learning Service

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In this brief overview, we explore the changing dynamics of inclusivity within education, particularly its intersection with blended learning. Whether you're seeking broader insights into fostering inclusivity or practical tips to enhance your teaching approach, this piece offers various insights and recommendations for everyone.

Designing our blended learning experience with flexible, iterative and user-centered designs entails carefully planning the implementation of learning materials and activities in a technological environment that addresses navigational and accessibility challenges upfront. Moreover, it entails customizing experiences to accommodate diverse teaching and learning practices, ultimately enriching the engagement and effectiveness of our education. Below, we've identified some best practices for crafting well-designed blended learning experiences to avoid certain learning, navigational and accessibility pitfalls, whether you're creating from scratch or elevating your existing materials.

Dive straight into practical tips for making your teaching more inclusive.


History and Context

Shaping Education with an Inclusive Lens

The journey towards inclusive education has evolved significantly, from early efforts focused on integrating students with individual requirements (Warnock, 1978) to a broader understanding that embraces diversity in all its dimensions (Florian and Spratt, 2013). Looking at education with a more holistic inclusive lens challenges us to re-evaluate existing norms, but also places us in an opportune position to shape the way we teach, learn and assess, collectively, by planning ahead and being mindful of our students’ and staff’s experiences and needs. In fostering inclusivity, education can transform into a collaborative endeavour where the voices of all participants, both students and staff, contribute to a richer and more responsive learning environment. This approach advocates for a shift in mind-set, recognizing that diversity in perspectives but also cultivating a sense of shared belonging (Collins, Azmat, and Rentschler, 2019) are assets that have the potential to enrich the educational experience for everyone involved.

Inclusivity at the University of Cambridge

Inclusivity is not an end point, but a continuous empathetic effort in providing the best services to students and staff. By acknowledging our current strengths and weaknesses we lay the groundwork for a constructive dialogue on how to further enhance inclusivity across all facets of university life.

Within this intricate web, based on our more recent student research we recognise that studying at university is inherently complex. As educators, we can enable students to develop confidence in engaging with challenge and complexity through the ways in which we structure learning experiences. Clear course descriptions and structure, and well-defined expectations play pivotal roles that empower students to make informed decisions and help them navigate their academic paths with confidence. Additionally, access to learning tools and resources also emerge as focal points of support, making education more accessible and effective for all students, regardless of their backgrounds and abilities.

Indeed, our exploration of educational inclusivity delves into multiple layers, from individual experiences to institutional practices, and even broader national and international contexts. Other university wide efforts in promoting an inclusive education can also be seen in the Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning (CCTL) and Accessibility and Disability Resource Centre (ADRC) work. The ADRC provides confidential and accessible advice, information, and guidance to disabled students and University and College staff working with them. Their core remit is to increase access and inclusion for disabled students across the university.


How can Blended Learning help?

Blended Learning can play a significant role in facilitating inclusive teaching, learning and assessment. A pedagogical approach that combines face-to-face experiences with digital resources, interactions and activities, can promote a more widely inclusive educational environment and embrace Universal Design for Learning (UDL) strategies. UDL is based on an intentional implementation of design that seeks to create inclusive and accessible educational environments for all students, regardless of their abilities, backgrounds and requirements,  and reduces the need for individual adjustments (Evmenova, 2018; Fovet and Mole, 2013; Hayward et al., 2022).

Complementing this approach is the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) model, which emphasizes that educators need an understanding of their subject matter (knowledge), effective teaching strategies (pedagogy), but also the ability to integrate technology into their instructional practices (Maor, 2016). This integration isn't simply about using technology for the sake of it but rather about leveraging technological tools and resources to enhance teaching, learning and assessment. This ensures that technology enhances the students’ educational experience rather than detracts from it. When combined with UDL principles, TPACK enables educators to design and deliver instruction that is both inclusive and effective, leveraging digital tools to address diverse student needs while maintaining the integrity of the subject matter.



Designing Inclusive Learning Experiences

1) Clear Course Structure

  • Refine existing courses with a clear and intuitive student experience structure.
  • Use consistent naming conventions and layout to promote familiarity and ease of navigation.
  • Organize course materials into modules with clearly defined objectives, readings, activities, and assessments.


By providing a roadmap of the course content, students can better understand expectations and monitor their progress.

Contact BLS to provide further guidance on this based on your specific needs. A thorough further reading on planning your blended course’s structure, content and activities can also be found on University of Manchester’s Blended Learning page.

2) User-Friendly Navigation

  • Simplify navigation within Moodle by employing clear menu structures and logical pathways.
  • Group related activities and resources together under cohesive headings to streamline access to course materials.
  • Utilize meaningful labels for navigation links to enhance clarity and accessibility.
  • Ensure that the course interface is responsive and compatible with assistive technologies, facilitating equitable access for all learners.


Got questions or need help making the Moodle navigation even better for students and staff? We're here to help! Reach out to us at

3) Accessible Content

  • Prioritize accessibility when developing learning materials to ensure they are usable by students with diverse requirements.
  • Provide alternative formats for content, such as text transcripts for audio or video materials, and descriptive captions for images.
  • Pay attention to colour contrast and font size to ensure readability for individuals with visual impairments.
  • Consider using interactive elements that accommodate different learning preferences and abilities.

For more tips on how to address various user needs simultaneously explore our accessibility design guide.

4) Integrate Multimedia

  • Incorporate audio, video, and interactive content strategically to reinforce key concepts and engage students.
  • Empower students to personalize their learning experience by providing options for content engagement by offering diverse learning resources, such as text-based readings, multimedia presentations, and interactive simulations, to cater to individual preferences and requirements.


Multimedia in Blended Learning can use:

Video/Animated Content Simplify challenging concepts and demonstrate processes and mechanisms.
Visual Aids Images and infographics can help students digest information and data and retain information.
Interactive Features Engaging learners through interactive quizzes, simulations, and games can promote active learning and create more immersion.
Audio Resources Providing feedback, or commentary through podcasts or voice recordings personalises learning, encourages engagement and makes it more accessible for some learners.
Social Media Integration Leveraging social platforms for collaborative discussions and communication among learners and instructors fosters a dynamic learning environment, stimulates discussion, and develops a range of communication skills.

For more tips and information on the implementation of multimedia into teaching you can explore Mayer’s 12 Principles of Multimedia Learning.

5) Collaborative Learning Spaces

  • Foster collaboration and peer interaction through the use of online discussion forums, group projects, and collaborative document editing tools.
  • Create opportunities for students to share ideas, ask questions, and provide feedback to their peers, promoting a sense of community and belonging within the digital classroom.
  • Additionally, provide guidelines and support for inclusive communication practices to ensure respectful, thoughtful, and productive interactions among students from diverse backgrounds.

For more strategies to deepen student collaboration you can have a look at ‘5 Strategies to Deepen Student Collaboration’ and for more tips on how collaboration can be achieved in a digital environment explore ‘How can you use digital platforms for better collaboration in higher education’.

While a more inclusive educational environment requires a careful consideration of various factors like accessibility, infrastructure and staff training, let us help you shape a more inclusive blended teaching and learning in your context! For more information on how to implement any of the suggested tips please contact us at


Collins, A., Azmat, F. and Rentschler, R. (2019) ‘‘Bringing everyone on the same journey’: revisiting inclusion in higher education’, Studies in Higher Education, 44(8), pp. 1475–1487.

Evmenova, A. (2018) Preparing Teachers to Use Universal Design for Learning to Support Diverse Learners, Journal of Online Learning Research, 4(2), pp. 147-171.

Florian, L. and Spratt, J. (2013) ‘Enacting inclusion: a framework for interrogating inclusive practice’, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 28(2), pp. 119–135.

Hayward, D.V., Mousavi, A., Carbonaro, M., Montgomery, A.P. and Dunn, W., (2022) Exploring preservice teachers engagement with live models of universal design for learning and blended learning course delivery, Journal of Special Education Technology, 37(1), pp.112-123.

Maor, D. (2016) Using TPACK to develop digital pedagogues: A higher education experience, Journal of Computers in Education, 4(1), pp. 71-86.

Mole, H., & Fovet, F. (2013) UDL - From disabilities office to mainstream class: How the tools of a minority are addressing the aspirations of the student body at large, Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching, Vol. 6, pp. 121–126.

Warnock Report (1978) Special Educational Needs. Report of the Committee of Enquiry into the Education of Handicapped Children and Young People. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office.