Blended Learning

This month, our guest editors, Lucas Wright, senior educational consultant, and Manuel Dias, educational consultant, from the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT) have curated the first part of this edition, where they will be exploring the topic of blended learning.

Blended learning is becoming an increasingly common course design approach in higher education. Classrooms are integrating technology ranging from students using personal response systems to answer questions, creating and grading assessments in learning management systems to using course blogs for discussion and sharing.

As learning technology and online learning become more embedded in almost all aspects of university teaching, it is becoming more challenging to define blended learning and separate the concept from effective teaching. Some researchers define blended learning by the extent that online content and activities replace face-to-face classroom time (Allen et al., 2007), (Bates, 2019). Other definitions suggest that blended learning refers to the careful combination of the appropriate technology and modality to achieve learning objectives (Alexander et al., 2019).

Instructors approach blended learning in different ways, with a wide array of formats determined by context-specific criteria (e.g., student engagement, performance, instructor’s comfort with the technology) or curriculum level requirements. Approaches include the ‘flipped classroom’ where students complete online pre-work to increase in-person interaction or ‘hybrid learning’ that reduce the time students spend in the classroom.

The diverse range of formats embedded in blended learning offers various ways of measuring its impact. Research shows that students generally respond positively to having more flexibility in their learning with access to online materials and activities. Many blended learning approaches leverage technology to enable more active learning in the classroom, and particularly in the STEM disciplines, active learning correlates with increased student satisfaction and improved learning outcomes (Freeman, 2014).

If you are interested in exploring blended learning in your teaching, the CTLT offers a four-week blended course that guides instructors through the thoughtful integration of classroom learning experiences with online experiences.

Blended learning in higher education: Three different design approaches

This article presents a literature review on the concept of blended learning and describes three processes of designing blended learning courses from low-impact, medium-impact to high-impact blend. The authors discuss the benefits and challenges for each level and provide recommendations to help instructors successfully adopt blended learning in their teaching.
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Implementing active learning and student-centered pedagogy in large classes

In this article, Dr. Nisha Malhotra, a senior instructor in the School of Economics at the University of British Columbia, describes her experience with incorporating active learning strategies in an undergraduate course of 110 students. She adopted a flipped-classroom approach to reduce lecture time by having students watch short video clips online before engaging in group activities or question polls in the classroom.
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2019 Horizon Report – EDUCAUSE

This report provides a summary of blended learning designs and current perspectives from instructors and students on the different formats of this teaching approach. It also offers useful reading such as a blended learning toolkit and blended learning design framework.
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Teaching in a digital age

In Chapter 9, Choosing between face-to-face and online teaching on campus, Tony Bates suggests adopting blended learning based on the instructional approach and learning objectives, to address a significant challenge with this format, finding a harmonious balance between face-to-face and online activities.
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Teaching in blended learning environments

In Chapter 9, Choosing between face-to-face and online teaching on campus, Tony Bates suggests adopting blended learning based on the instructional approach and learning objectives, to address a significant challenge with this format, finding a harmonious balance between face-to-face and online activities.
Read More


Enjoyed reading about Blended Learning? Learn about other topics we covered in the December 2019 edition by reading the complete Edubytes newsletter. To view past issues, visit the Edubytes archive.

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