Foundation Skills/Using Moodle to engage students in a blended environment/Blended learning

From WikiEducator
Jump to: navigation, search

What exactly is blended learning?

The term blended learning normally refers to a combination of face-to-face (offline) and online learning. However, the mix can also include any learning outside the classroom - for example, workplace learning. Both online and face-to-face learning have distinct advantages: for example, face-to-face learning can provide direct personal interaction, and online learning can provide greater flexibility of time and place and opportunities for asynchronous learning (anytime) as well as synchronous learning (real time). Workplace learning and learning in the community or at home (informal learning) occurs in environments that are relevant to the learner (real world) and also need to be taken into account. However, for the purpose of this module, blended learning will refer to face-to-face and online learning.

Blended learning is a strategy with the potential to make use of the benefits of each approach while avoiding any disadvantages. But this requires careful planning - the unfortunate connotations of a kitchen blender where different items are whisked together are not helpful! Perhaps a carefully assembled jigsaw is a more appropriate metaphor for the process of combining face-to-face and online components.

In a 2012, New Zealand research project led by Lynn Jeffery, the project team used the following definition from Garrison and Kanuka (2004): “at its simplest, blended learning is the integration of classroom face-to-face learning experiences with online learning experiences” (cited in Jeffrey, Milne, Suddaby, & Higgins, p. 1).

The researchers recommended that:

"Teachers should redesign their courses for blended learning, not just by adding an online component to their regular teaching. The best courses we saw had been thoughtfully considered and the online and classroom components coherently integrated (p. 15).

Ten engagement strategies critical to the enhancement of student learning in a blended learning setting were identified. You may want to read more about the Strategies for engaging learners in a blended environment. These are summarised below.

Getting students started
  • Primers for getting student attention: curiosity, relevance.
  • Social presence and belonging: Teacher enthusiasm, immediacy and an inclusive environment.
Maintaining engagement
  • Clear content structure.
  • Clear, unambiguous instructions and guidelines.
  • Challenging tasks.
  • Authentic tasks.
  • Timely feedback.
  • Elaborated feedback.
Re-engaging students who drift away or fail to engage
  • Monitoring and early identification of issues.
  • Personal contact and negotiated conditions for re-engagement.

The flipped classroom model using a blended learning approach is an example of a strategy which aims to combine face-to-face learning with online learning to make best use of both.

OP icon activity.gif


Find out how blended learning approaches are being used in your organisation: not just which courses use blended learning, but how these courses combine specific face-to-face and online components.

  • Outline how the 'blend' occurs.
  • Post to your portfolio and share on the discussion forum.