Life by Design

Blended Learning: The Best of Both Worlds

Posted on: February 27, 2015

In taking ELI’s BlendKit15 course on blended learning, I am exposed many new readings and ideas about what blended learning is and what it is not.  As online learning research accumulates, clearly blended learning models are coming out ahead as the most effective form of online learning with exceptional learning results for students.  As cited in the U.S. Department of Education’s (2010) “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practice in Online Learning:  A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies”, “Students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruciton (p.xiv) and noteably, “Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction that did purely onlien instruction.” (p.xv).

Why is this?  There are several reasons to consider.  By combining online components that the student can engage with and explore on their own terms with a face-to-face component that allows for building knowledge through connection, collaboration and discourse, you have a well rounded experience that benefits the learner and provides a refreshing role for the instructor as a guide or facilitator.

This model is also highly beneficial to several learning styles and allows both the introverted and extroverted student areanas in which they can shine.

I am a huge fan of George Siemans and his learning theory of connectivism.  Blended learning moves us …”towards a networked model requires that we place less emphasis on our tasks of presenting information, and more emphasis on building the learner’s ability to navigate the information.”  It is in this navigation, that the student sharpens critical thinking skills and develops into an independent life-long learner.  I especially like the way that George Siemans describes the links and connections formed by the learners themselves as, “…the creation of the knowledge ecology.”

In order to achieve the best balance of both worlds and create an enriched learning experience for the student, these 5 ideas are useful to remember:

  •  Context is always at the core of the planning and design process.  Who are the learners?  What do they need to learn? What kinds of learning experiences will optimize that effort?
  •  Keep learning and not technology at the center of the design process.  Use technology to leverage learning.
  •  Be aware that creating an online or blended learning class will take more time and thought to prepare it properly.
  •  Be prepared to adapt any learning model you use as you get into the design process
  • “Creating a blended learning strategy is an evolutionary process.”  (Singh and Reed, 2001).

I’m looking forward to exploring this topic and online course design style more in depth.  What appeals to me is the interplay between online and f2f components and how to optimize that volly to find just the right mix to create a vibrant learning community that ignites with the love of self-directed learning.

References

Siemens, G. (2002, September 30, 2012).  Instructional Design in Elearning. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Article/InstructionalDesign.htm

Singh, H. & reed, C. (2001). A white paper: achieving success with blended learning. Centra Software.

Retrieved from:http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi+10.1.1.114.821&rep=rep1&type=pdf

U.S. Department of Education. (2010).  Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning:  A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, Washington, D.C.  Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf

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