Life by Design

Student Interaction: The Life of Blended Learning

Posted on: March 3, 2015

As more and more research comes out on blended learning, clearly student interaction is a topic that cannot be ignored.  Without sufficient quality and quantity of student interaction, any form of online learning, especially blended learning models, have little chance of success.

Dziuban, Hartman, and Mehaffy (2014) observe that:

Blended learning, in all its various representations, has as its fundamental premise a simple idea:  link the best technological solutions for teaching and learning with the best human resources….encourag[ing] the development of highly interactive and collaborative activities that can be accomplished only by a faculty member in a mediated setting. (p.322)

In creating a blended course model, here are recommendations I have to maximize student interaction.

In the online component of the course, have these activities planned:

a.  Syllabus review with a discussion board activity where students weigh in on the syllabus and their own

learning goals

b. Student profile creation which facilitates student-to-student interaction

b.  Readings

c.  Video viewings

d. Quiz or application of learning (This could be the evaluation of a learning object needed to complete the final project of the course)

e.  Reflection writing

These activities in the online component of a course demonstrate the following:  “In the best of circumstances technology allows professors to offload responsibilities that can be taken up by technology.” Dzuiban, Hartman, and Mehaffy( 2014).

In the face-to-face component of the class:

a.  Have a synchronous weekly chat that centers around the main topic of the week and allows time for questions

b.  Have a final face-to-face meeting where students (or groups) deliver their final presentations for the course with an opportunity for peer review

The face-to-face components of a blended course tap into interaction as a human need which is closely tied to intrinsic motivation.   Synchronous activities and meetings can provide a sense of community and the necessary connections that hold an online (or blended course together).  In this community setting, it is important to consider who the students will be expressing themselves to in their presentations.   Students should be prepared to make their case, express their opinions and answer questions from peers and instructors.  Not only are these skills valuable in an academic setting where students are working toward a degree, but they can also be considered part of what it means to be career-ready.

Whether activities are online or face-to-face, it is very important to provide clear instructions, expectations and exemplars of good work. Creating rubrics for each different kind of activity gives students a roadmap toward defining their learning and achievement goals.


Dzuiban, C.D., Harman, J.L., and Mehaffy, G.L. (2014).  Blending it all together, In A. Picciano, C. Dzuiban, and C. Graham (Eds.), Blended learning:  Research Perspectives volume 2. NY: Routledge.


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