There are two things I am certain of in education. First, learner variability is the norm, not the exception. Second, technology is here to stay. So, how do we design and facilitate learning experiences to remove barriers and allow all students to succeed? How can we leverage technology to provide meaningful choices within a learning experience and create the time and space needed to work with individual students or small groups of learners?

In my upcoming book, I teamed up with Dr. Katie Novak to explore the complementary nature of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and blended learning. Below you will find italicized excerpts from the first chapter of our new book woven into the text below.

UDL is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn.” UDL celebrates learner variability as an asset in the classroom. UDL recognizes that every class comprises a wide range of learners with various needs, skills, experiences, knowledge, and interests. Each student will encounter unique barriers, enjoy engaging with information in different formats, thrive in different learning scenarios, have particular preferences, benefit from varying levels of support, and communicate their learning differently.

Every student, regardless of variability, deserves the best opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge regardless of the learning landscape. For too long, schools were designed for those students who were the mythical average learners at the expense of students who had unique needs and challenged teachers to the limits of their commitments, insights, and skills. When we accept that learner variability is the norm, we begin to design with that reality in mind.

However, the events of the last year have made it clear that educational landscapes can shift at any time. In the last 15 months, teachers have been asked to teach in person, online, and various combinations of the two. As soon as teachers got their bearings in one teaching and learning landscape, things shifted. It was an exhausting and often frustrating experience. Moving forward, Katie and I want teachers to have a skill set nimble enough to navigate any teaching and learning landscape.

Education today requires flexibility and agility. We are called to design and deliver curriculum and instruction that engages learners in face-to-face settings, during hybrid instruction, and when learning is remote, and back again. We don’t need two vehicles, or two different sets of skills, to meet the needs of learners in a flexible learning landscape. Instead, we need to develop a skill set that is adaptable enough and flexible enough to travel from the bumpy, cobblestone streets of traditional education to the choppy waters of learning in the cloud.

To meet the needs of diverse learners in flexible landscapes, educators need more than a single framework. UDL provides a foundation that reminds us that the goal of school is to teach students how to become motivated, resourceful, innovative learners, and help them prepare for the lives they want to live. To do this, we have to embrace blended learning so they can seamlessly traverse from in-person, hybrid, online, and back again.

In my previous books, I’ve defined blended learning as the combination of active, engaged learning online with active, engaged learning offline to give learners more control of the time, place, pace, and path of their learning. This definition is grounded in constructivist principles and positions students at the center of learning. This fundamental shift in control from teacher to learners is key to helping us reach those goals of developing more motivated, resourceful, and innovative learners.

In my previous books, I’ve explored what blended learning looks like in action, encouraged leaders and coaches to power up blended learning by building a professional learning infrastructure, and described how teachers can leverage blended learning to partner with students and create more balance in their lives. This book creates a bridge between the UDL framework and blended learning. This bridge will help leaders and teachers understand how to universally design blended learning. We want to universally design to celebrate learner variability, remove barriers, give students agency, and cultivate expert learners. This book highlights how blended learning, in general, and the models, specifically, can make those objectives easier to accomplish!

Katie and I are excited to share this book with you later this month! In the meantime, we wanted to invite you to submit your questions about our new book, UDL, and blended learning. We will be responding to your questions and posting the answers! You can post your question on Twitter using the #BlendedUDL or submit your question to this form!

21 Responses

  1. Is there research to demonstrate how UDL increases ALL learners capacity vs reminiscing some learners capacity?

  2. I am so excited for your new book to come out! This idea of BlendedUDL that you and Katie are talking about is exactly in line with my beliefs and what I share with others! Is there a way to preorder your book? Thank you!

    • Hi Jennifer,

      I’m very excited about this book too! I’m thrilled educators like you are looking forward to reading it and spreading the word!

      It comes out on May 29. There isn’t a pre-order option on Amazon yet. As soon as preorder is an option, I’ll tweet about it 🙂

      Take care.

  3. What is it called? You two are my dream team and I want to purchase it right away!!

  4. I have been doing UDL PDs with Katie through my district. I am so excited for this book to come out soon.

  5. Catlin, you mentioned that educator nowadays need to be “adaptable enough and flexible enough to travel from the bumpy, cobblestone streets of traditional education to the choppy waters of learning in the cloud”?

    I would really love to hear your experiences in guiding teachers, who struggled to grow from fixed mindset of traditional education to a more open-minded learning ways; teachers who keep their students in the safe-space of one or two preset activities to teacher who constantly allowed themselves to be challenge by the growth potential of their students.


  6. Good Morning Dr. Tucker
    It is my understanding from a contact at Focused Schools that you and Katie Novak are actually working together in schools. Could you give me more information on this Professional Development program or direct me where to go for information? My district is certainly interested in having both of you come in to work with us on UDL & Blended Learning. Please feel free to contact me via my email address with any information you can give me.
    Thank you for your time.

  7. When is this book being released? What is the Title so I can add it to my watch list? Thank you!

  8. I am so excited for this book to come out! I am hoping to do a book study and read it with our staff at Longmont High this summer. When will it be available for purchase and how long will it take to come in? Hope you are well Catlin! I miss having you here in St Vrain:)

    • Hi Anne! The book is titled UDL and Blended Learning: Thriving in Flexible Learning Landscapes and is scheduled to be released May 29th! Each chapter has book study questions that you can use to facilitate a book study with your AMAZING teachers in Longmont.

      I miss seeing you all too! I am sure the incredible work you’ve done in the blended learning space has made this crazy year easier to navigate.

      Take care.

  9. Congratulations on your new book! It sounds exciting and I look forward reading it and to learning new strategies to better support our students.


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