Making Blended Instruction Better: Integrating the Principles of Universal Design for Instruction into Course Design and Delivery

Spring 2009

Source: Action in Teacher Education, v. 31 no. 1 (Spring 2009) p. 38-48.

Online instruction in general and blended instruction in particular have gained a sizable and permanent foothold in postsecondary educational environments. In addition, student diversity has become the norm. The purpose of the present article is to demonstrate the convergence of blended instructional techniques with the Universal design for instruction, which provides faculty with a unique opportunity to address the needs of a diverse student population. 

Blended instruction is defined as the convergence of traditional face-to-face meetings with online instructional methods to provide course content.

Universal design for instruction is a framework that consists of nine principles for instructional design and delivery; it proposes that course designers proactively consider the needs of all students.

Universal Design Principles in Practice

Principle 1: Equitable Use - focuses on usability for a range of learners.

Principle 2: Flexibility in Use - emphasizes the uniqueness of the individual and the skills and preferences that he or she brings to the instructional environment.

Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive - focuses on employing instruction that is straightforward and predictable, regardless of the students' experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.

Principle 4: Perceptible Information - states that instruction is designed so that necessary information is effectively communicated to the student, regardless of ambient conditions or the student's sensory abilities.

Principle 5: Tolerance for Error - focuses on the need for instruction to anticipate variation in students' learning pace and prerequisite skills.

Principle 6: Low Physical Effort - suggests that variation in physical ability should not have an impact on academic performance (unless such physical ability is an essential requirement of successful course completion).

Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use - intends to minimize the impact of the communication, mobility, posture, and body size variability among course participants.

Principle 8: A Community of Learners underscores the need for an instructional environment that promotes interaction and communication among students and between students and faculty.

Principle 9: Instructional Climate states that students should be openly welcomed and included in all aspects of the classroom setting. In addition, instructors should clearly indicate that students will be held to high academic expectations and consistently treated as such.


UDI, in concert with the blended instructional format, provides an opportunity to address the needs of diverse learners through the development and use of inclusive instructional environments that proactively consider the needs of all students.

Updated: Nov. 18, 2009