Blended Learning

The term ‘Blended Learning’ certainly isn’t a new one and has been in common usage for some time now. Some of you may have heard the term and thought no more of it, and some of you may have decided that it isn’t for you, as you might feel face-to-face teaching is the best method.

What is blended learning?

Blended learning is a mixture of face-to-face teaching and any form of online interaction. Garrison & Vaughan (2008) describe the basic principle of blended learning as: “That face-to-face oral communication and online written communication are optimally integrated such that the strengths of each are blended into a unique learning experience congruent with the context and educational purpose”.

This includes module-based online learning that is regarded as a ‘mandatory’ component of face-to-face delivery, and all students are expected to participate. Blended Learning may also include work-based learning, carefully structured online lectures, seminars or discussions, as well as activities to prepare for and reflect on classroom sessions.

Why should I think about a blended learning approach?

Blended learning can greatly enhance the student’s learning experience by offering the benefits of face-to-face teaching and extending the classroom contact time with both teachers and peers by creating online resources and workspaces.

Today’s student, and the student of tomorrow, are more familiar and comfortable with using electronic devices, and connecting to the internet for information and social and professional contact is becoming the norm.  There have been several studies around how young people today have more or less grown up with ubiquitous technology and methods of connecting/communicating with the world around them, especially in an educational context.  Also, the workplace is becoming ever more reliant on communicating via communication technology and the internet (Skype, email).  Therefore, students will benefit from using online teaching and learning spaces for the duration of their time at university and beyond.

This is an argument used to promote blended learning in academia as stated by Garrison & Kanuka, (2004) “blended learning is an effective and low-risk strategy which positions universities for the onslaught of technological developments that will be forthcoming in the next few years. As society and technology fundamentally alter the manner in which we communicate and learn, this inevitably alters how we think”.

Examples of blended learning activities

Some examples of activities which can be created using the University’s DLE and other supported technologies are:

  • Discussion forums
  • Online quizzes
  • Personal Response systems and software
  • Lecture capture
  • Podcasts
  • Learning objects (self-contained resources)

If you are interested in finding out more around blended learning, please contact asti@plymouth.ac.uk and one of our Learning Technologists will get back to you.

References

Garrison, D.R., & Vaughan, N. D. (2008).  Blended learning in Higher education: Framework, principles and guidelines.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
Garrison, D.R., & Kanuka, H. (2004).  Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in Higher Education.  The Internet and Higher Education, 7 (2), 95-105.

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