Inclusive Blended Learning Design

In this guide:

Introduction to inclusive blended learning design

This guidance aims to help course teams adopt an inclusive blended learning mode of delivery. It builds on the UAL Inclusive Core Practice and the Checklist for Supporting Maximum Participation (PDF 166 KB) guides. The guidance on offer outlines an approach underpinned by asynchronous online delivery suitable for students regardless of location, time zone, device and quality of internet connection, as well as allowing for flexibility of modes in course delivery and student engagement.

We have created a series of inclusive blended learning designs to illustrate how this can work in practice. They are non-subject specific and cover typical UAL learning scenarios. These include knowledge building, studio practice and peer evaluation. There is also a template you can use as a guide to creating designs from scratch. Consider how you might adapt each design for your own teaching context.

Each design is a sequence of learning activities aimed at helping students achieve a set of learning outcomes. Each activity:  

  • Involves students engaging with one or more core practices such as interacting with course materials, producing an artefact (content) or dialogue with tutors or peers (contact)
  • Is either asynchronous or synchronous. Asynchronous is the default option for content-focused activities. Either asynchronous or synchronous is the default option for contact-focused activities
  • Is informed by feedback from the preceding activity in order to build continuous formative assessment into the designs. Read about UAL’s Blueprint initiative and the benefits of formative assessment for student attainment. A UAL login is required
  • Is delivered online. Note that synchronous contact-focused activities can be adapted for on-site delivery as needed.

Explore the example learning designs

Knowledge building

This design enables students to achieve a basic understanding of new knowledge in advance of a synchronous session. The latter is used to check, reinforce and develop student understanding through application and discussion activities.

Scaffolding critical engagement with texts 

This design aims to build students confidence in reading, analyzing and interpreting academic and subject related texts. The scaffolded approach supports students to develop personal and collaborative interpretations of texts in a reading group setting. 

Blended studio practice 

In this design, students are asked to begin work to a brief. Some students will be asked to present work in progress for informal feedback in a synchronous session. There will be an asynchronous opportunity to demonstrate and test knowledge on the skills required to begin work on the brief. There is also a synchronous opportunity for all students to continue with work in progress. 

Understanding the assessment criteria 

This design introduces students to assessment criteria and learning outcomes before their first assessment is due. On successful completion of the activities in this design, students will be able to explain how their assignment will be assessed and apply assessment criteria as part of a peer-evaluation activity 

Peer evaluated assignment  

This design relies on asynchronous peer feedback to help students develop a portfolio over a period of time leading up to submission. Using tools like Workflow, students will formatively assess others’ work following a rubric provided by their tutor. The design enables students to consolidate their learning before it is summatively assessed. 

Create your own inclusive blended learning design

Use our design template and method to create your own inclusive blended learning designs

Considerations for using synchronous activities

To ensure all students have the opportunity to engage, we recommend asynchronous delivery for content-focused activities wherever possible.  Synchronous delivery should be reserved for contact-focused sessions that aim to support group cohesion and collaboration. This also makes it easier to adapt the designs if physical spaces become available for use, as only changes to synchronous activities are needed. 

Bear in mind some students may be unable to participate in synchronous activities due to time constraints, caring responsibilities and so on. Therefore, it is good practice to record sessions so they can still engage in consolidation activities. 

To learn more about when to use synchronous delivery in your blended learning design, review An Affinity for Asynchronous Learning and navigate to the section headed Questions to consider when making decisions about synchronicity. 

Additional resources:


The inclusive blended learning design toolkit was developed in collaboration between the Digital Education and Academic Enhancement Model (AEM) teams, respectively part of the Digital & Technology and Teaching, Learning and Employability Exchange, and other colleagues across UAL.

To discuss Inclusive Blended Learning Design with someone, submit a request on MySupport to Digital Education.

Thanks to the following authors, researchers and editors for their contribution:  

  • Danielle Tran
  • Darren Gash
  • David Webster
  • Emily Salines
  • Hannah Hyde
  • Jacqueline Downs
  • Lee Leewis
  • Peter Beare
  • Sheldon Chow
  • Silke Lange
  • Siobhan Clay

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