Module 1: Introduction to Blended Learning
Will your course be online this Fall? Will you teach on-campus using a mix of virtual and in-person class time? Perhaps you’re still awaiting news of what is safely feasible for the upcoming semester. We don’t know when we will return to our campus classrooms, but we do have solutions to structure your course in such a way that will allow you to the flexibility to pivot and adapt as necessary, thus preparing you for a myriad of situations.
What is “Blended Learning”?
Blended learning, in brief, involves 3 elements:
- Online learning: The student completes some portion of material virtually, as their own pace. They consume traditional lecture material on their own, and are in control of their learning; they set the pace, are able to pause/rewind/reflect as needed, and choose when they complete their work (within given timelines). This flexibility in pace allows each student to work when and how is best for them.
- Instructor-supervised learning: This element allows the opportunity to practice learned material in a supervised setting. Face-to-face time typically involves active learning, discussion, working on assignments, and facilitated group work, the latter two of which students struggle with when completing outside the classroom.
- Integrated learning: Students intentionally consume material that is required to successfully complete in-person tasks. Each learning modality complements the other; this integrated process brings the first two elements together.
This may remind you of a flipped classroom. Here’s where it differs: flipped classrooms are timeline-based; blended learning is mastery-based, allowing for more or less time per the student. Flipped classrooms are teacher-focused; blended learning environments are student-focused. Blended learning intentionally uses and integrates technology into the learning; it is not merely a tool or afterthought.
Research-Driven Blended Learning
Successful blended learning environments require thoughtful alignment between lecture material and in-class activities. Most importantly, the instructor must design course components in such a way as to help students understand these connections. It’s difficult to do well, but that’s where Katie Linder’s The Blended Course Design Workbook comes into play.
Using backward course design, Linder walks the reader step-by-step through the course development process. She begins each chapter with a literature review and grounds her processes in research-driven principles. Beginning with course goals and learning objectives, Linder illustrates how to communicate student expectations, develop learning activities, align in and out of course content, create effective assessments, and map activities to learning objectives and outcomes.
Linder emphasizes the relationship between student and instructor, particularly in how you articulate the structure of the course. Instructors must show students you’re paying attention to and value the learning they do on their own. Blended learning is relationship-based learning: it is work they do with you (the instructor) and with others (fellow students). You must help them draw the connection between the importance of what they do online (on their own) and what they with you (in class). Linder’s workbook is designed for all disciplines and for all levels of comfort with technology.
Online learning does not need to be impersonal; rather, it can be designed to benefit and engage all students. Both instructors and students frequently report hybrid classes as most valuable to their critical thinking and success in future work.
Want to design your course using blended learning?
An e-version of the Workbook is available via IUCAT; see Linder’s personal site for hard copy purchase options and links to the handouts found within the text.
As part of CITL’s Summer programming, Jennifer Turrentine and Shannon Sipes are facilitating a Faculty Community of Learning cohort through The Blended Course Design Workbook. This is the first blog in a series covering the topics and content of this Learning Community.
Whether completing the workbook on your own or with others, we suggest structuring it into six modules. Our timetable allows two weeks per module; you may need to adjust accordingly. Each module covers two chapters and a few workbook tasks.
- Weeks 1 & 2: Fundamentals, Course Goals, and Learning Outcomes
- Weeks 3 & 4: Assessment
- Weeks 5 & 6: Learning Activities & Mapping your Course
- Weeks 7 & 8: Social Presence and Open Ed Resources
- Weeks 9 & 10: Media Resources & Student Success
- Weeks 11 &12: Syllabus and Wrap up
Please reach out to Shannon and Jennifer if you’d like to discuss Blended Learning and/or how you can facilitate a group with your colleagues.
Linder, K. E. (2017). The blended course design workbook: a practical guide. Sterling, Virginia: Stylus Publishing, LLC.