Hi, I’m Braddlee, and I serve as Dean of Learning and Technology Resources at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Virginia. While there are a range of definitions of blended (also known as hybrid) online learning in higher education including those from the Online Education Consortium and Clayton Christensen Institute. Essentially, blended courses typically bring together both face-to-face and online instruction. This raises complications for administrators, instructors, and evaluators wanting to know when blended learning should be used and what makes for a well-designed course.
Blended learning has often been described as the “best of both worlds” allowing students the flexibility of online together with the richness of the face-to-face learning experience. When programs and courses are well designed and implemented, blended has the potential to improve learning outcomes, reduce time-to-degree, and expand access for learners who might otherwise not be able to participate. It has the potential to increase access in higher education, but is also used in PK-12 when digital and online sources expand course offerings.
Lesson Learned: Definitions for blended learning vary, but broadly include formal education that happens in part through online learning and in part in brick-and-mortar locations. There is also an expectation that at least some of the learning is student-controlled taking place remotely.
Lesson Learned: Courses and teaching require redesign when moving from face-to-face to partially online. Blended learning should be evaluated differently from either face-to-face or totally online courses. Key elements include how instructors use face time, and how successfully students can learn when working on their own.
Hot Tip: For those looking to review current scholarly research, a new title from Routledge, Blended Learning: Research Perspectives, Vol. 2 contains an excellent selection of the latest research on blended learning, including an section specifically devoted to the evaluation of blended learning.
Rad Resource: The Blended Learning Toolkit from the University of Central Florida contains a wealth of resources, including professional development resources, course examples, and links to its own Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on blended learning.
Rad Resource: Planning and Designing an Online Blended Course from the University of New South Wales, Australia includes not only an in-depth set of resources for faculty, but also starting points for evaluation of blended courses.
Rad Resource: Online Learning Consortium, formerly known as Sloan-C, remains a go-to site for professional development, state-of-evolution, and research on online and blended learning. In addition to the well-known Quality Matters program the OLC’s Blended Learning Mastery Series is a well-developed boot camp program covering the research, teaching, and assessment of courses.
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