Tertiary teaching in New Zealand/Blended learning/Why blended learning?/What goes into the blender?

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What goes into the blender?

Up to 2006, most research told us that there was little significant difference between the results of online and face to face learning at the tertiary level, but there was a higher attrition (drop-out) rate in distance courses. However, it was also pointed out that many more students could access distance courses than face to face (F2F)... so perhaps one factor cancelled out the other.
However, more recently it has been shown that F2F and purely online courses have similar outcomes - but a blend of both produces much better outcomes than either of the above. here is a link to an excellent meta-analysis of online learning practices from the U.S. Department of Education which clearly shows that a blend is the best way to go, both for in-house and distance students. Learning preferences can be met, and media appropriate to particular content can be chosen, such as animations. Hava a look at this example of a very simple animation that shows how an airbag press for grapes works.
Sound and video files are obviously helpful in the classroom, and they can also be used online, although the bandwidth and quality of the internet connection will need to be considered.

Here is an excellent summary of blended learning with a literature review and case study by Michael Smythe of Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. You might find this presentation on the Slideshare site useful.

Giving learners control of their interactions with content and prompting reflection is important - it's not just about delivery!

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