Nov 12, 2018

Blended and Personalized Learning, UDL, and AEM in a Nutshell

Students and teacher in the classroom with iPads

These words and acronyms have been quite the buzz in the education world. info@ is here to provide more information and resources on all of them and how they fit together as we work to provide successful learning opportunities for all the learners in the Grant Wood AEA service area.

Blended Learning in Action

Blended Learning includes a variety of ways that students experience or learn their content. Differentiation of instruction happens naturally in a blended learning environment and takes into account not only student struggles, but also their strengths and interests. Having options for receiving the information in multiple ways such as print, video, audio, infographs, simulations, or physical activity (to name a few) allow for learner differences and increase the likelihood that a learner will be able to access and gain the information needed After learners experience their learning, having varied ways to show their learning also increases the learners’ ability to show what they truly know. While some learners still prefer “sit and get” learning, blended learning allows for different learning styles. In a world where people can create their own playlists for music, stream television or Youtube when and how they want, learning in this manner creates student ownership increases motivation and success for all. Just like a blended learning activity, blended learning will look different in each classroom. There is no ONE WAY to blend.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a research-based system where all learners will be able to participate in the learning experience. Rather than realizing there is a student need for alternate materials and creating alternate content for that one student, an ideal UDL would have content already designed to meet the needs of diverse abilities and disabilities. “What is essential for some is useful for all” is a phrase often used when discussing UDL. While some students need to have text read aloud to them in order for them to get access to the content, some might find listening to audio useful or prefer as they workout or ride the school bus. That audio format makes learning possible for one student as well as useful for another. Intentionally designing your learning meet the needs of the broadest possible and allowing student voice and choice in how they obtain and demonstrate their knowledge, is a solid path towards personalized learning.

Whether creating original learning resources or gathering various content to use with your learners, Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) will help with personalized learning and UDL. AEM include print and electronic resources designed so that the formats are accessible to the widest audience regardless of their visual, auditory, or physical ability. What makes them accessible is the format or the options to modify the format. Large print text, text to speech, translations, and closed captioning (CC) capabilities are a few of the types of features to look for or to include in your creations.

“Access for Learning.” National Center on Accessible Educational Materials, 31 Oct. 2018,

Salend, Spencer J., and Catharine R. Whittaker. “UDL: A Blueprint for Learning Success.” Educational Leadership, vol. 74, no. 7, Apr. 2017, pp. 59–63. EBSCOhost,

To learn more about these topics, check out our professional collection.

New titles in the Grant Wood AEA Media Center on Blended and Personalized Learning:

New titles on UDL and AEM:

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