Topic 4: Blended learning

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.

rainbow-angel-blend-137901299308652ci9
‘The art of blending’ colours is to create a gentle transition from one to the other.

Why blend-it?

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.

To conclude…

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 :-).

References

 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.

http://www.tonybates.ca/2014/09/09/is-the-addie-model-appropriate-for-teaching-in-a-digital-age/

 http://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Topic 4: Blended learning

  1. You write: “I think that by including online activities in our courses we are giving students the opportunity to take ownership of their own learning.” I agree with you. But, personally, I would like to be a bit more specific. What is good with the blended format? How does it help students becoming more active learners? Could you help me to figure this out?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Magnus.
      Thanks for reading my blog and for your interesting questions. Unfortunately, I have very little experience with blended courses. My naive thoughts are that, with a good course design, the online elements allows customising and personalising your teaching. For example, online content and activities would help you letting the student make choices such as which content to learn, when and how. I see it more like a tool that can bring some flexibility and dynamics to my courses…

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  2. “learning about this model has helped me understanding the design of the ONL course and my own journey through it.”
    I had the same feeling. I did understand why some elements in the ONL course were set up the way they were and in which order. However, I am less certain that I as a learner felt the same way as the ideal learner in the five stage model is described at the different stages. That could be coincidental, or due to mishaps in the course design, or something that I have been thinking about: is it really a five stages (=one size) fits all?

    I am not convinced about that and think that you will have different learners (having different educational background, different personalities, different pre-existing scaffolding): for some it is essential to take every step in the five stage model in the exact defined order. For others, it may seem inefficient or uninteresting, as they prefer focusing on the task (in particular if the course is short and you are not intending to build long-term relationships with all fellow students), and get to know their peers while they are working on the task together. Much of this will probably depend on how you as a person learn and interact, and on how comfortable you are working in a group with strangers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Olov!
      Thanks for reading my post and for your comments.
      I have the same concerns regarding the 5-steps model as you. I think that ‘one size does not fit all’ and a too rigid implementation of this model could be counterproductive.

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  3. Thank you for sharing your views on how blended learning can be used to improve the student’s learning experience. Like you, this topic has challenged me to adapt my current style of teaching to incorporate more digital elements, for the students’ enhanced learning experience.

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  4. Thanks for this post! For me the most interesting were your ideas for designing blended courses. Using webinar instead of bringing faraway lectures, more online interaction with for example, students from other institutions or teachers and the use the online materials to support the lectures! A lot to think about!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post summarizing the ADDIE model. The wealth of different approaches to blended online learning methodologies that are available are a fantastic resource that I am looking forward to experiment with too. Becoming a master at Blended Learning will likely be a true longtime effort.

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  6. Thank you Victoria for your post on blended learning. Its nice to read that you are beginning to feel comfortable to include blended elements in your teaching and to read your reasoning with a focus on the learning process, (instead of just wanting to add a cool tool). I also appreciate your summary of the ADDIE and 5 step models, as I have been checking them out, – your explaining them in different words than mine has given me a more clear understanding!

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