“Blended Learning is an approach to course design that brings together the best of both face-to-face and online strategies. This combination aims to build from each approach to create an innovative and effective learning experience for students.” (Ragan, 2007)
Why Blended Learning?
Blended learning allows…
- Differentiation of participation and pacing of learning
- Enhanced and greater depth of learning in the face-to-face component due to front loading asynchronously
- Interaction with resources and collaboration outside the physical classroom
- Community building which may be absent in solely online courses
- Increased student empowerment in the learning process
- Flexibility for learning: any-time, anywhere
- Preparation for future alternative instructional delivery modes
- Opportunities to practice technology skills in authentic ways
- Possibility for instruction to continue in the event of school closings (natural disaster, epidemics, etc)
Essential Considerations in Designing a Blended Course
- Allow adequate time to prepare the course – six month minimum suggested to set in place tools plus instructional design team
- Determine the teams to design course (subject matter expert, instructional designer, web/media designer, IT staff)
- Determine the best platform and tools to be used for course delivery and assessment based on school context
- Determine who will manage the platform: full-time administrator, existing department head or IB/AP coordinator, curriculum coordinator, tech integration staff member
- Establish standards for developing, designing, and implementing courses
- Determine the course content and organise content into “chunks”
- Determine how the knowledge/skills of the course will be assessed
- Ensure appropriate infrastructure is available to provide reliable access and student experience
- Decide how to best select course instructors/facilitators
- Select or develop the design template to standardise online course delivery (navigation etc)
- Ensure sufficient professional development is provided for teachers in designing and facilitating the course
Essential Considerations for a Blended Course Template
- Create a calendar/schedule of assignments/lessons
- Align course with school determined curricular framework (standards and benchmarks)
- Clearly post a course description including goal and outcomes with unit objectives heading each section
- Determine course objectives with online learning activities and assessments
- Ensure uniform methods for posting resources and handing in assignments
- Allows for easy development by design team and easy navigation by all users
- Course template has a recognisable “brand” or visual school identity
Questions to consider….
- How will the development of differentiated student learning be implemented within the online portion of the course?
- Will a blended course substantially change current thought of teacher and student scheduling/room assignments?
- How will on-line learning transform the “face-to-face”concept of education by more incorporation of “doing, collaboration, and interaction” among the class community?
Making the Most of a Blended Course
- Utilize a variety of tools to effectively communicate with learners and engage them online
- Employ instructional strategies that allow for all learners (regardless of learning preferences) to be successful.
- Grow as a professional in your curriculum area to more effectively present your material online (scholar/practitioner)
- Frequently assess the learning process and the effectiveness of instructional strategies and tools
- Integrate online with face-to-face so that there is continuity in the course
- Become proficient in the use of course technology/tools
- Interact with instructors and other students in online forums and other discussions
- Are prepared for face-to-face interactions by completing required online activities
- Develop time management skills and self discipline to meet course goals
- Become proficient in the use of technology tools
Dziuban, C. D., Hartman, J. L., Moskal, P.D., “Blended Learning,” EDUCAUSE Research Bulletin, Volume 2004, Issue 7, March 30, 2004, <http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERB0407.pdf>.
Irlbeck, S. (2008). Implementation of best practices for online teaching and learning in an online institution. Performance Improvement, 47(10), 25-29. doi:10.1002/pfi.20036.
Ragan, L. (2007, August 28). Best Practices in Online Teaching – Pulling It All Together – Teaching Blended Learning Courses. Retrieved from the Connexions Web site: http://cnx.org/content/m15048/1.2/
Tremblay, R. “Best Practices” and Collaborative Software In Online Teaching. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning v. 7 no. 1 (2006) p. 1-5.
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