So the first week’s reading in the BlendKit course is on Understanding Blended Learning. It starts with defining the term, which is simply a mix (blend) of online learning and face-to-face learning. How much of one versus the other may vary from course to course and depends on various factors, including the level of the students/course, the subject matter, and the geographical spread of the students. While exclusively online learning offers modest benefits over exclusively face-to-face learning, Blended learning has proven advantages over both. The two approaches complement each other well when done well.
How to do blended learning well is a good deal of the reading. The planning process must begin with learning goals. I’ve always said that education must lead technology, not the other way around. It may be useful to consider ways to present and engage with a topic on a continuum from online at one end to face-to-face on the other. One should also consider synchronous–whether online or in-person–and asynchronous activities.
There were two approaches outlined, one illustrating blended learning as a controlled process and the other as an emergent process. While the former included a helpful list of key ingredients, the latter was described as “making patterns from clouds.” I think, even if you use the first option, you’ll still need to be an agile teacher when the rubber meets the road. Both offered structure, very helpful when teaching in multiple venues/media.
Then there were two case studies, one featuring a nice grid of different considerations for each type of learning:
- Online Instruction
- Facilitated Online Instruction
- Blended Instruction, and
- Studio-based Instruction
All of this was helpful in understanding blended learning in greater detail. The course is geared toward people planning or preparing to actually offer blended learning courses. I hope I get to share this knowledge I’m gaining with the faculty here. Perhaps a Teaching Circle or faculty lunch seminar presentation. It would also be nice to actually consult and advise on blended course design.