Blended learning course design, a deliberate combination of face-to-face and online learning, requires a shift in thinking in what it means to teach and what it means to learn.
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designing blended courses
Blended learning is often described as the best of both worlds because it combines elements of face-to-face and online learning. For an instructor getting ready to teach his first blended course, the temptation may be to look at his traditional course syllabus, pick which classes can be moved online and then leave the rest of the syllabus as it has always been.
When I heard a teacher tell me that they were creating recorded lectures for courses as homework assignments and spending classroom time on discussions and more active learning, I knew right then the value of the lecture capture tools.
When we maintain our focus on learning, the means used to help students learn dominates our thinking. Too often teachers can fall into the trap of testing students only on lower-level material (knowledge and comprehension questions). When exams become the only means to assess learning, a teacher becomes a carpenter with only a hammer: all problems start to seem like nails.
Blending learning involves using a combination of face-to-face interactions and online interactions in the same course. Students still regularly meet in the classroom in a blended course, but the frequency of those meetings is usually decreased. The goal of blended learning is to facilitate greater student learning and could thus fit within a learner-centered paradigm.
Blended learning — a strategy that combines online and classroom learning activities and resources to reduce in-class seat time for students in a face-to-face environment — can be a tremendous boon for a university. It can help the institution enhance under-enrolled programs, complete faculty teaching loads, and improve cost effectiveness. However, convincing the institution’s constituents that a blended course or program is a good idea may take some work.
“Hybrid education” has become a hot catchphrase recently as faculty blend face-to-face learning with online technology. But the growth of hybrid education has been steered by the unstated assumption that hybrid technology should be used to facilitate discussion outside of the classroom, while classroom time should be spent lecturing.
Blended learning is gaining momentum in higher education…and for a very good reason. According to the U.S. Department of Education, blended learning can improve learning outcomes. To achieve better learning outcomes, however, blended courses need to be carefully structured to engage learners.
When you undertake a blended learning course, you can’t just think about what assignments and activities you are going to move online. You have to reconceptualize the entire course. This means starting with your learning goals. The place to begin is by asking yourself: What do I want students to learn?
Blended learning, which combines face-to-face learning with a mixture of online activities, has been hailed as both a cost-effective way to relieve overcrowded classroom and a convenient alternative to the traditional classroom experience. But it has quickly become much more than that.