I was looking forward to researching and discussing blended learning. Thanks to the ONL course, my interest in online education has gradually increased and I feel ready to integrate digital elements into my classes to boost the learning experience.
Blended learning can bring together the best of classroom and online learning. However, like ‘the art of blending colours’ mentioned above, it requires expertise, time and practice. Therefore, it is important to keep focused. What specific deliverables do we want? What elements of our face-to-face teaching are working well and which ones need replacement? Which gaps would we like to address?
In my case, I would like to ‘flip’ some lectures and use class time for collaborative learning, which works well in my current face-to-face format. But there are many other possibilities that I find interesting, such as organizing webinars instead of inviting lectors from abroad; providing additional online materials to give more flexibility to the students and promoting online discussions to keep the students engaged, active and involved.
In general terms, blended learning can provide individualisation, flexibility and improve the learning experience. The question is how to implement it in a balanced way, with a delivery system that works well with our classrooms. So…
How to design a blended course?
In this topic, we have been encouraged to look into two instructional design models: the ‘ADDIE model’ and the ‘5 steps model’. Both models were new to me, but sounded familiar because they are essentially constructivist. This is important for me, since I’d like to keep the leaning objectives and learners’ needs in the spotlight when implementing new technology.
The ADDIE model. Addie stands for Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. At a first glance, these stages seam like a systematic and thorough way to identify and implement good elements of a course design. I specially like the evaluation stage, which allows re-analyzing and improving the design course after course. On the other hand, a limitation of the model is that it does not provide guidance to make decisions, specially regarding choosing technologies. Another pitfall is that it does not offer early detection and correction of problems.
The 5-steps model. This model provides a framework for online learning through interaction and participation between participants (networking). It is based on a structured developmental process through 5 well-defined steps. This is a ‘’scaffolding’’ model, providing support and opportunities to growth at each step to gradually build up expertise in online learning. What I appreciate most in this model is that it portraits the teacher as a ‘facilitator’ of the online-learning process, giving clear guidelines on how to engage and support the students. Funny enough, learning about this model has helped me understanding the design of the ONL course and my own journey through it.
At the PBL group, we had the possibility of designing our own online activity using some of these models. This could be (by far) the most creative and exciting task of the ONL course, but also the most difficult and time consuming. We are still catching-up with our work, but regardless of the result, this will be a good experience.
At the end, I think that by including online activities in our courses we are giving students the opportunity to take ownership of their own learning. And this is definitely worth the effort :-).
Biggs, J.B. (1996) Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment, Higher Education, 32: 1–18.
Bates, T (2016). The 10 Fundamentals of Teaching Online for Faculty and Instructors.